Definitions

Ricarda Huch

Ricarda Huch

Huch, Ricarda, 1864-1947, German novelist, historian, and poet. She is best known for her historical romances of Garibaldi, Defeat and Victory (1906-7, tr. 1928, 1929), and of the Thirty Years War, Der grosse Krieg in Deutschland (1912-14). Other works include the novels Recollections of Ludolf Ursleu (1893, tr. 1913-15) and The Deruga Trial (1918, tr. 1929), two historical studies on romanticism (1899, 1902), and poems (1891, 1904, 1929, 1944).

Ricarda Huch (1864-07-18 - 1947-11-17) was a German writer and poet. Her name is pronounced like "hook", but with a hard "ch" in the end, like in Scottish "loch".

Life

Huch was born in Braunschweig and died in Schönberg (Taunus) (today it belongs to Kronberg). She was the daughter of wholesale merchant Richard Huch and his wife Emilie (nee Haehn). She also used the pseudonym Richard Hugo and published her first poems under the alias R. Ith Carda. She prepared for university work privately and studied at Zürich, where she took her doctor's degree in 1891. Her brother Rudolf and her cousins Friedrich and Felix were also well known writers.

Huch studied philosophy, history and philology at Zürich University as women were still not able to be certified in German universities. In 1890, she was one of the first women to attain a doctorate from Zurich based on her writings detailing a history of Switzerland. Shortly after attaining her doctorate, she published poetry under the alias of Richard Hugo. After working as a librarian, Huch left to Bremen where she was a teacher of German and history. She later moved to Vienna and in 1898 she married Italian dentist Ermanno Ceconi. She moved to his Italian homeland of Triest for several years and had a daughter with Ceconi but would eventually divorce him in 1906. She would later marry her brother in law and cousin, writer Richard Huch. These would be her only two marriages.

Huch was a member of the "Preußische Akademie der Künste", but left this institution in 1933 when the national socialists took over and excluded Alfred Döblin. Though she remained contradictory to the new ruling powers, Goebbels and Adolph Hitler sent her congratulatory telegrams on her 80th birthday despite her stance. Huch dedicated much of her lives to Italian, German and Russian history and historical novels that were psychological biographies.

Perspectives

Huch from the Perspective of Clive James in Cultural Amnesia: Necessary Memories from History and the Arts pages 328-333: “To save Germany was not granted to them; only to die for it; luck was not with them, it was with Hitler. But they did not die in vain. Just as we need air if we are to breathe, and light if we are to see, so we need noble people if we are to live” (Ricarda Huch, Fur Die Martyrer Der Freiheit, March/April 1946, cited in Briefe an die Freunde, p. 449 as quoted in James p. 329).

Clive James describes Huch as the first lady of German humanism and as a bridging figure between Germaine de Stael and Germaine Greer. Describing her as a poet, novelist, and historian of culture, James mentions that Huch was one of the first female graduates from Zurich University where she studied history, philosophy and philology. He describes her gift for talking about the powerless as if they had the importance of the powerful as shown in the Thirty Years' War. James describes how Huch publicly rejected the Nazis in 1933 who were trying to “co-opt her prestige.” She quit her position as the first woman ever elected to the Prussian Academy of the Arts and then went into an internal exile in Jena. In 1947 she was also honorary president of the First German Writers Congress in Berlin.

James goes on to speak about a subject of Huch’s writing; the young men who were involved in the July 20 Plot against Adolf Hitler’s life in 1944. James then mentions how Huch was a voice that spoke early against Hitler and was deserving of the title that Thomas Mann gave her, “The First Lady of Germany.” According to James, when the Nazi’s came to power in 1933 the Nazis sought to recruit Huch into the party but she refused. She even wrote a letter to composer Max von Schelling, president of the Prussian Academy, insisting that the concept of Germanness that the Nazis spoke of was not her Germanness.

After denouncing the Nazis, Huch retired into private life. Under the Third Reich, Huch was allowed to hold the party in contempt so long as she was not too vocal. James then juxtaposes this lack of speech with Huch’s younger rebel years. Intellectually, she admired Mussolini’s and Bakunin’s anarchist origins. He then mentions how Huch stole her sister's husband and treated men and suitors in a manner that was stunning considering this period of time in Germany. James believes this rebel attitude never died as evidenced in her writing of profound enjoyment in the first air raid she witnessed in June 1943. Even in her 80’s she enjoyed the destroyed buildings and rubble. It was during this time that she wrote with admiration about the young men involved in the July plot to assassinate Hitler.

Publications

  • E. A. Regener, Ricarda Huch, eine Studie (Leipzig, 1904)
  • Elfriede Gottlieb, Ricarda Huch, ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der deutschen Epik (1914)

Texts

  • Erinnerungen von Ludolf Ursleu dem Jüngeren 1893
  • Fra Celeste 1899
  • Die Blütezeit der Romantik. 1899
  • Ausbreitung und Verfall der Romantik. 1902
  • Aus der Triumphgasse. 1902
  • Vita somnium breve 1903 (Titel ab 1913: Michael Unger)
  • Von den Königen und der Krone 1904
  • Die Geschichten von Garibaldi. 1906
  • Menschen und Schicksale aus dem Risorgimento. 1908
  • Der letzte Sommer. (Briefroman) 1910
  • Das Leben des Grafen Federigo Confalonieri. 1910
  • Der große Krieg in Deutschland. Three volumes, 1914
  • Natur und geist als die Wurzeln des Lebens und der Kunst. 1914
  • Wallenstein. 1915
  • Das Judengrab. 1916
  • Luthers Glaube. 1916
  • Der Fall Deruga. (Krimi) 1917; online: http://www.gutenberg.org/etext/17169
  • Der Sinn der Heiligen Schrift. 1919
  • Michael Bakunin und die Anarchie. 1923
  • Gesammelte Gedichte. 1929
  • Deutsche Geschichte. 1934-49
  • Frühling in der Schweiz, Jugenderinnerungen 1938
  • Herbstfeuer. 1944
  • Urphänomene. 1946

References

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The Riverside Dictionary of Biography. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2005.

  • Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism. Excerpts from criticism of the works of novelists, poets, playwrights, short story writers, and other creative writers who died between 1900 and 1960, from the first published critical appraisals to current evaluations. Volume 13. Detroit: Gale Research, 1984. Biography contains portrait.
  • Women in World History. A biographical encyclopedia. Seventeen volumes. Waterford, CT: Yorkin Publications, 1999-2002. Use the Index in vol. 17 to locate biographies. Biography contains portrait.

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