Mein Leben - A Social and Political Critique of Life in Eighteenth-Century Germany: The Autobiography of Johann Gottfried Seume (1763-1810) Translated by Klaus Musmann

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This is a translation of Mein Leben by Gottfried Seume, an autobiography of an influential 19th century author. First issued in 1813, this translation is based on a critical edition of the work by Joerg Drews done in 1993. This is the first time it has been translated into English from German. Some of Seume’s writings were banned for their controversial political overtones. This book was never published during his lifetime and the first uncensored edition appeared in 1879. In addition, the autobiography recounts his famous walks across Europe, which were also described in the book A Stroll to Syracuse where he went to Sicily. Early on in his life he was forced to serve in the Hessian and Prussian militaries and several times he attempted to flee. In 1782 his Hessian regiment was sold to the British and he was shipped to Canada which he describes in some detail in this autobiography. Through it all he never saw military action.


“Provides a unique and authentic view of German living conditions during the second half of the eighteenth century. It shows how difficult it was for a young man without means, but with a literary and philosophical education, to forge his own way and to overcome the impediments of an unjust society...One can hear the austere language of an individual who has experienced life and was enriched by it.”
Dr. Albert Meier,
University of Kiel

“The efficacy of Seume’s writings show an astounding fluctuation in public opinion. In the nineteenth century, his books stood beside Goethe in ever well-appointed library. In the twentieth century, by contrast, interest in him waned at times. The author became a victim of political abuse and exploitation. His books became reservoirs for political slogans and pointedly aphoristic maxims for daily living…these translations could form the foundation for an international reception and understanding of this writer.”
Prof. Urs Meyer,
Fribourg University

Table of Contents

My Life by Johann G. Seume
Addendum by Georg J. Goeschen
Addendum by Christian A.H. Clodius
Index to Persons and Places

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