Birthplace: Eisfeld, Thuringia, Germany
Location of death: Dresden, Saxony, Germany
Cause of death: unspecified
Race or Ethnicity: White
Sexual orientation: Straight
Occupation: Playwright, Novelist, Critic
Executive summary: Der Erbförster
German dramatist, novelist and critic, born at Eisfeld in Thuringia, on the 11th of February 1813. His father, who was syndic of Eisfeld, died when the boy was twelve years old, and he was brought up amidst uncongenial conditions. He had devoted his leisure to poetry and music, which unfitted him for the mercantile career planned for him. The attention of the duke of Meiningen was directed to one of his musical compositions, an opera, Die Köhlerin, and Ludwig was enabled in 1839 to continue his musical studies under Felix Mendelssohn in Leipzig. But ill-health and constitutional shyness caused him to give up a musical career, and he turned exclusively to literary studies, and wrote several stories and dramas. Of the latter, Der Erbförster (1850) attracted immediate attention as a masterly psychological study. It was followed by Die Makkabäer (1852), in which the realistic method of Der Erbförster was transferred to an historical milieu, which allowed more brilliant coloring and a freer play of the imagination. With these tragedies, to which may be added Die Rechte des Herzens and Das Fräulein von Scuderi, the comedy Hans Frey, and an unfinished tragedy on the subject of Agnes Bernauer, Ludwig ranks immediately after Friedrich Hebbel as Germany's most notable dramatic poet at the middle of the 19th century. Meanwhile he had married and settled permanently in Dresden, where he turned his attention to fiction. He published a series of admirable stories of Thuringian life, characterized by the same attention to minute detail and careful psychological analysis as his dramas. The best of these are Die Heiteretei und ihr Widerspiel (1851), and Ludwig's masterpiece, the powerful novel, Zwischen Himmel und Erde (1855). In his Shakespeare-Studien (not published until 1891) Ludwig showed himself a discriminating critic, with a fine insight into the hidden springs of the creative imagination. So great, however, was his enthusiasm for William Shakespeare, that he was led to depreciate Friedrich von Schiller in a way which found little favor among his countrymen. He died at Dresden on the 25th of February 1865.
Father: (syndic, d. 1825)
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