Jean Paul Statue (copyright BMTG)

Jean Paul lived and worked from 1804 until his death on November 14th 1825 in Bayreuth. Without a doubt he was one of the most significant German poets.

Who is Jean Paul?

Jean Paul was born in Wunsiedel on March 21th 1763 (his name was actually Johann Paul Frie­de­rich Richter). His genius with words and his fanciful imagi­na­ti­ve­ness, his power of imagi­na­tion, his flights of thoughts and pictures of dreams, his fanta­stic descrip­tions of nature and sensi­tive descrip­tion of emotions are legendary.

As a bold visio­nary and enig­matic- humo­rous idyl­list, an entran­cing poet and worldly wise, a genius word creator and romantic thinker Jean Paul moves the mind and heart of people still today.

At the same time Jean Paul was a kind judge and friend of people, as seen in the caring descrip­tion of original and whim­sical figures like the famous school master Wuz.

His sket­ches of human character forma­tion, of harmony, of peace and justice show him as the best example of the humane German.

Jean Paul and Bayreuth?

He wrote about Bayreuth the much cited homage: “dear Bayreuth, your are presented to me on such a beau­tifully worked- green painted tray of the area, one should drill oneself into you to never be able to leave again.” Jean Paul often moved his stories, in his ency­clo­pedic novels, to Bayreuth and the surroun­ding area. In the year 1902, the critic Alfred Kerr wrote in the guest­book of the Jean Paul poet room in the Roll­wen­zelei: “forget the Germans you today, you are the master of Bayreuth!”

This was a grand homage to Jean Paul but at the same time a strike against Richard Wagner.

Jean Paul moved since 1804 seven times during his life in Bayreuth before he moved in 1813 for the larger part- and the rest of his life to the second floor of the house in the Frie­de­rich­strasse 384 (today Nr. 5). Land­lord since 1817 was the Jewish banker from Ansbach I.J. Schwa­ba­cher who lived on the first floor of the house.

Life and death of Jean Paul

Jean Paul gave little inte­rest to his outward appearance. His wife Caro­line complained bitterly that her husband owned a beau­tiful dres­sing gown but always wore the shabby old one. Beer and wine are Jean Paul‘s essen­tial elixirs since the turn of the century. The Bayreuth beer was not an item on the bottom of his list of argu­ments which spoke for Bayreuth as his final resi­dence. However, the poet was not a drinker, as it so often likes to be gene­ra­lized. He distri­buted his alco­holic mixtures accor­ding to plan, with great regu­la­rity throug­hout the day, for his drive to work. However he could not escape liver cirrhosis. Although he had retained a sparse nature as far as food, as in his youth, and his asking for pota­toes, soup and salad is still touching today. Almost blind and plagued by ascites Jean Paul still deals with the planned total output of his works until his dying day. Only the last day, the nephew Otto Spazier (1803–1854) brought to help, finds him lying on the sofa. Their conver­sa­tion conti­nues until Jean Paul‘s words “we want to let it go”. His death occurred around 8 o clock at night.

Ludwig Börne said in his comme­mo­ra­tive speech amongst other things: “a star has vanished and the eye of the century will close before he reap­pears because the shining genius wanders in wide paths and only late grand­children will joyfully welcome from which mour­ning fathers once crying parted….. He had not lived for ever­yone but his time will come when he will be born for all and they will all mourn him. But he stands pati­ently at the gates of the twen­tieth century and waits smiling until the slow moving masses follow him.

Roll­wen­zelei — Jean Paul´s room for poetry

The house has a long history and a pecu­lia­rity rarely found: it is the house where the poet Jean Paul spent the last 20 years of his life, from about 1805 to 1825, working almost daily. The small tavern on the outskirts of the town was then run by the Roll­wenzel couple. Reffer­ring to the first owners, the house is still called the Rollwenzelei.

His “poet’s room”, which was made available to him by the innkee­pers of the time, is still preserved in its original form today. The poet grew up in poor circum­s­tances. This was also reflected in his poet’s room. Only the most neces­sary items were to be found in it. What was much more important, however, was that in this small room Jean Paul found the peace he needed to concen­trate fully on his poetry. The wide view over the fields and meadows of Bayreuth’s nature helped him to find much needed inspiration.

As part of the 2006–2010 resto­ra­tion, the Stube was restored as Jean Paul had seen it; further­more, an exhi­bi­tion area was added to probably the smal­lest museum in Germany.

Rollwenzelei © Regionalmanagement

Jean Paul trail

Jean Paul Weg Wanderung mit Landrat Hübner © Regionalmanagement Bayreuth

The hiking trail touches the Fran­co­nian forest and Fran­co­nian Switz­er­land. The trail was continued in 2012 to Sans­pa­rail and has length of 200 km.

You encounter Jean Paul‘s legacy still today in many ways. In the resi­dence- and house of his death in the Frie­de­rich­strasse, the tomb in the city ceme­tery, the central monu­ment on the Jean Paul place , the “Roll­wen­zelei” on the way to the Eremi­tage. He came to the restau­rant of the Roll­wen­zelei almost daily to write. You find his legacy in the palaces and parks of the Eremi­tage and Fantaisie, which were places of some of his most beau­tiful scenes in his novels. All these places are connected through the Jean Paul way which leads through a large part of upper Fran­conia. The Bayreuth Jean Paul way was put on record in 2010.

Nume­rous infor­ma­tive plaques on diffe­rent places let the reader dive into the life and works of the poet.

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