Benn, Gottfried

(1886-1956)
   writer; his work combined elements of Expressionism* with a disturbing realism. Born in the West Prussian town of Mansfeld, he studied language and philosophy. On military scholarship, he took a medical doctorate in 1912 from the Kaiser Wilhelm Academy in Berlin* and then served briefly at the front as a medical officer. Through ties with Berlin's Expressionists he became the lover of Else Lasker-Schüler.* His medical prac-tice, specializing in venereal and skin diseases, lasted from 1917 until 1935; yet he sustained contact with the Republic s intellectual community, which led in 1932 to his induction into the Prussian Academy of Arts. His collaboration in the 1920s with Paul Hindemith* resulted in the oratorio Das Unaufhorliche (Change and Permanence), first performed in 1931.
   Benn s writing was inseparable from his medical training. His poetry exhib-ited an aggressive and cynical Naturalism, inconceivable without his profession and most strikingly represented in Morgue (1912). He once claimed that art should be concerned exclusively with "style, not truth, an assertion trouble-some to many admirers. Relativism was also central to his prose and essays, genres he favored in the 1920s (see Gesammelte Prosa [Collected Prose] and Konnen Dichter die Welt andern? [Can poets change the world?]). While he alleged that his work was morally indifferent, he expressed contempt for the Republic s social structure and politics.
   Since Hitler* infatuated Benn, the early years of the Third Reich are a sordid period in his biography. In 1933 he was the leading German writer to commend Nazism as the fulfillment of a valid artistic ideology. But by 1935, when he reenlisted and coined the term innere Emigration, he had broken intellectually with the regime. His mature poetry, appearing after 1945, reflected a despon-dency associated with Germany s defeat.
   REFERENCES:Benz and Graml, Biographisches Lexikon; EP, vol. 1; Ritchie, Gottfried Benn.

A Historical dictionary of Germany's Weimar Republic, 1918-1933. .

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  • Gottfried Benn — (2 May 1886 ndash; 7 July 1956) was a German essayist, novelist and expressionist poet. A doctor of medicine, he became an early admirer, and later a critic, of the National Socialist revolution. Benn had a literary influence on German verse… …   Wikipedia

  • BENN (G.) — BENN GOTTFRIED (1886 1956) Aujourd’hui reconnu comme l’un des tout premiers poètes allemands de ce siècle, Gottfried Benn est également l’auteur d’une œuvre d’essayiste et de prosateur considérable. La réflexion théorique nourrit toute la… …   Encyclopédie Universelle

  • Gottfried — (as used in expressions) Benn Gottfried Bürger Gottfried August Ehrenberg Christian Gottfried Gottfried von Strassburg Herder Johann Gottfried von Leibniz Gottfried Wilhelm Freiherr baron von Leibniz * * * …   Universalium

  • Gottfried — (as used in expressions) Benn, Gottfried Bürger, Gottfried August Ehrenberg, Christian Gottfried Herder, Johann Gottfried von Leibniz, Gottfried Wilhelm Strassburg, Gottfried von …   Enciclopedia Universal

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