The novel follows a boy from the Spessart named Simplicius in the Holy Roman Empire during the 30 Years War as he grows up in the depraved environment and joins the armies of both warring sides, switching allegiances several times. Born to an illiterate peasant family, he is separated from his home by foraging dragoons and is eventually adopted by a forest hermit. He is conscripted at a young age into service, and from there embarks on years of foraging, military triumph, wealth, prostitution, disease, travels to Russia, and countless other adventures.--Wikipedia
to the public is intended rather as a contribution to the history, or perhaps it should be said the sociology, of the momentous period to which the romance of "Simplicissimus" belongs, than as a specimen of literature. Effective though its situations are, consistent and artistic though its composition is (up to a certain point), its interest lies chiefly in the pictures, or rather photographs, of contemporary manners and characters which it presents. It has been said with some truth that if succeeding romancers had striven as perseveringly as our author to embody the spirit and reflect the ways of the people, German fiction might long ago have reached as high a development as the English novel. As it is, there is little of such spirit to be discovered in the prose romances which appeared between the time of Grimmelshausen and that of Jean Paul Richter. But the influence of the latter was completely swept away in the torrent of idealism by which the fictions of the idolised Goethe and his followers were charac
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