Saturday, August 22, 2009


Simplicissimus was a satirical German weekly magazine started by Albert Langen in April 1896 and published through 1967, with a hiatus from 1944-1954. It became a biweekly in 1964.[1] It took its name from the protagonist of Grimmelshausen's 1668 novel Der Abenteuerliche Simplicissimus Teutsch.
Combining brash and politically daring content, with a bright, immediate, and surprisingly modern graphic style, Simplicissimus published the work of writers such as Thomas Mann and Rainer Maria Rilke. Its most reliable targets for caricature were stiff Prussian military figures, and rigid German social and class distinctions as seen from the more relaxed, liberal atmosphere of Munich. Contributors included Hermann Hesse, Gustav Meyrink, Fanny zu Reventlow, Jakob Wassermann, Frank Wedekind, Heinrich Kley, Alfred Kubin, Otto Nückel, Robert Walser, Heinrich Zille, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Heinrich Mann and Erich Kästner.
In 1898 Kaiser Wilhelm's objections to being ridiculed on the cover resulted in the magazine being suppressed. Langen, the publisher, spent five years' exile in Switzerland and was fined 30,000 German gold marks. A six-month prison sentence was given to the cartoonist Heine, and seven months to the writer Frank Wedekind. Again in 1906 the editor Ludwig Thoma was imprisoned for six months for attacking the clergy. These controversies only served to increase circulation, which peaked at about 85,000 copies. Upon Germany's entry into World War I, the weekly dulled its satirical tone, began supporting the war effort, and considered closing down. Thereafter, the strongest political satire expressed in graphics became the province of artists George Grosz and Käthe Kollwitz (who were both contributors) and John Heartfield.
The editor Ludwig Thoma joined the army in a medical unit in 1917, and lost his taste for satire, denouncing his previous work at the magazine, calling it immature and deplorable. He left the magazine in the 1920s. During the Weimar era the magazine continued to publish and took a strong stand against extremists on the left and on the right. As the National Socialists gradually came to power, they issued their pattern of verbal accusations, attacks, threats, and personal intimidations, followed by arrests against the artists and writers of Simplicissimus. It continued publishing, in declining form, until finally ceasing publication in 1944. It was revived from 1954-1967.
Other graphic artists associated with the magazine included Thomas Theodor Heine, Olaf Gulbransson, Edward Thöny, Bruno Paul, Josef Benedikt Engl, Rudolf Wilke, Ferdinand von Reznicek, and Karl Arnold.

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