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Bible Encyclopedias

1911 Encyclopedia Britannica

Julius Sophus Felix Dahn

JULIUS SOPHUS FELIX DAHN (1834-), German historian, jurist and poet, was born on the 9th of February 1834 in Hamburg, where his father, Friedrich Dahn (1811-1889), was a leading actor at the city theatre. His mother, Constance Dahn, nee Le Gay, was a noted actress. In 1834 the family moved to Munich, where the parents took leading roles in the classical German drama, until they retired from the stage: the mother in 1865 and the father in 1878. Felix Dahn studied law and philosophy in Munich and Berlin from 1849 to 1853. His first works were in jurisprudence, Ober die Wirkung der Klagver- :dhrung bei Obligationen (Munich, 1855), and Studien zur Geschichte der germanischen Gottesurteile (Munich, 1857). In 1857 he became docent in German law at Munich university, and in 1862 professor-extraordinary, but in 1863 was called to Wiirzburg to a full professorship. In 1872 he removed to the university of Konigsberg, and in 1888 settled at Breslau, becoming rector of the university in 1895. Meanwhile in addition to many legal works of high standing, he had begun the publication of that long series of histories and historical romances which has made his name a household word in Germany. The great history of the German migrations, Die Konige der Germanen, Bande i.-vi. (Munich and Wiirzburg, 1861-1870), Bande vii.-xi. (Leipzig, 1894-1908), was a masterly study in constitutional history as well as a literary work of high merit, which carries the narrative down to the dissolution of the Carolingian empire. In his Urgeschichte der germanischen and romanischen Volker (Berlin, 1881-1890), Dahn went a step farther back still, but here as in his Geschichte der deutschen Urzeit (Gotha, 1883-1888), a wealth of picturesque detail has been worked over and resolved into history with such imagiRative insight and critical skill as to make real and present the indistinct beginnings of German society. Together with these larger works Dahn wrote many monographs and studies upon primitive German society. Many of his essays were collected in a series of six volumes entitled Bausteine (Berlin, 1879-1884). Not less important than his histories are the historical romances, the best-known of which, Ein Kampf um Rom, in four volumes (Leipzig, 1876), which has gone through many later editions, was also the first of the series. Others are Odhins Trost (Leipzig, 1880); Die Kreuzfahrer (Leipzig, 1884); Odhins Rache (Leipzig, 1891); Julian der Abtriinnige (Leipzig, 1894), and one of the most popular, Bis zum Tode getreu (Leipzig, 1887). The list is too long to be given in full, yet almost all are well-known. Parallel with this great production of learned and imaginative works, Dahn published some twenty small volumes of poetry. The most notable of these are the epics of the early German period. His wife Therese, nee Freiin von DrosteHi lshoff, was joint-author with him of Walhall, Germanische Gutter and Heldensagen (Leipzig, 1898).

A collected edition of his works of fiction, both in prose and verse, has reached twenty-one volumes (Leipzig, 1898), and a new edition was published in 1901. Dahn also published four volumes of memoirs, Erinnerungen (Leipzig, 1890-1895).

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Bibliography Information
Chisholm, Hugh, General Editor. Entry for 'Julius Sophus Felix Dahn'. 1911 Encyclopedia Britanica. 1910.

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