Wilhelm Jordan - Encyclopedia




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WILHELM JORDAN (1819-1904), German poet and novelist, was born at Insterburg in East Prussia on the 8th of February 1819. He studied, first theology and then philosophy and natural science, at the universities of Konigsberg and Berlin. He settled in Leipzig as a journalist; but the democratic views expressed in some essays and the volumes of poems Glocke and Kanone (1481) and Irdische Phantasien (1842) led to his expulsion from Saxony in 1846. He next engaged in literary and tutorial work in Bremen, and on the outbreak of the revolution, in February 1848, was sent to Paris, as correspondent of the Bremer Zeitung. He almost immediately, however, returned to Germany and, throwing himself into the political fray in Berlin, was elected mamber for Freienwalde, in the first German parliament at Frankfort-on-Main. For a short while he sided with the Left, but soon joined the party of von Gagern. On a vote having been passed for the establishment of a German navy, he was appointed secretary of the committee to deal with the whole question, and was subsequently made ministerial councillor (Ministerialrat) in the naval department of the government. The naval project was abandoned, Jordan was pensioned and afterwards resided at Frankfort-on-Main until his death on the 25th of June 1904, devoting himself to literary work, acting as his own publisher, and producing numerous poems, novels, dramas and translations.

Among his best known works are: Demiurgos (3 vols., 1852-1854), a "Mysterium," in which he attempted to deal with the problems of human existence, but the work found little favour; Nibelunge, an epic poem in alliterative verse, in two parts, (1) Sigfriedsage (1867-1868; 13th ed. 1889) and (2) Hildebrants Heimkehr (1874; 10th ed. 1892) - in the first part he is regarded as having been remarkably successful; a tragedy, Die Wittwe des Agis (1858); the comedies, Die Liebesleugner (1855) and Durchs Ohr (1870; 6th ed. 1885); and the novels Die Sebalds (1885) and Zwei Wiegen (1887). Jordan also published numerous translations, notably Homers Odyssee (1876; 2nd ed. 1889) and Homers Ilias (1881; 2nd ed. 1894); Die Edda (1889). He was also distinguished as a reciter, and on a visit to the United States in 1871 read extracts from his works before large audiences.

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