Adelbert von Chamisso

Adelbert von Chamisso de Boncourt (Louis Charles Adélaïde de Chamissot). Poet and botanist of German romanticism. He wrote The Wonderful Story of Peter Schlemihl, in which a man sells his shadow to the devil.


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  • 1 Biographical synthesis
    • 1 Career
    • 2 Death
  • 2 Work
    • 1 Poetry
    • 2 Honors
  • 3 References
  • 4 External links
  • 5 Source

Biographical synthesis

Born on January 30 , 1781 in France . The Revolution left him without a homeland, since he emigrated with his family to Prussia , where they lived in Berlin .

In 1796 , the young Chamisso obtained the position of page of the queen and in 1798 he entered a Prussian infantry regiment, of which he would become an officer.

Although his family was authorized to return to France , Chamisso preferred to remain in Germany and continue his military career; Since he has received little education, he devotes all his efforts to study assiduously. With Karl August Varnhagen von Ense ( 1785 – 1858 ) he founded the Berliner Musenalmanach in 1803 , in which his first poems appear. The company was interrupted by the outbreak of war in 1806 . Although this allowed him to become known as a young poet in literary circles.


Lieutenant in 1801 , in 1805 he accompanied the regiment to Hamelin and contemplated the capitulation of the Prussian army the following year. Released on parole, he returns to France, but the parents are dead and he returns to Berlin in the fall of 1807 . He leaves the army in early 1808 . He lives in Berlin without accommodation or employment, disappointed and unwilling to live until 1810 , when, thanks to the intervention of an old friend of his family, he returns to France after the peace of Tilsit and obtains a teaching position at the Lyceum de La Roche sur Yon (then called Napoléon-Vendée).

She frequented Madame de Staël’s circle and followed her into exile in Coppet, Switzerland . There it is devoted to botany and remains for about two years. In 1812 he returned to Berlin, where he continued his scientific investigations. During the summer of the busy year of 1813 , he wrote his novel Peter Schlemihl, the story of a man who lost his shadow and traveled the world to regain it, his most famous work and translated into many languages. Chamisso wrote it to distract and amuse the children of his friend Ferdinand Hitzig ( 1807 – 1875 ).

In 1815 , Chamisso was named a botanist on the Russian ship Rurik, and with Otto von Kotzebue (son of the playwright August von Kotzebue) he commanded a scientific voyage around the world until 1818 . His journal of the expedition (Tagebuch, 1821 ) is a fascinating account of the journey through the Pacific Ocean and the Bering Sea . During this trip Chamisso described a large number of new species in what is the San Francisco Bay Area , many of which, including Eschscholzia californica, were later classified by his friend Johann Friedrich von Eschscholtz, entomologist at Rurik. He even went to Isla Sala and Gómez, where he stayed for several days.

Chamisso developed an important work in collaboration with Diederich Franz Leonhard von Schlechtendal and described many of the most important trees in Mexico , from 1830 to 1831 . Among his literary works, his Anthology ( 1831 ), lyric poems of great language purity , also stands out .


He died in Berlin in 1838 .


  • The strange story of Peter Schlemihl ( 1814 )
  • Anthology ( 1831 )
  • Bemerkungen und Ansichten, in an incomplete form in von Kotzebue Entdeckungsreise (Weimar, 1821 ) and better, in Chamisso Gesammelte Werke ( 1836 )
  • Übersicht der nutzbarsten und schädlichsten Gewächse in Norddeutschland ( 1829 ), with a very careful treatment of the subjects.


  • Salas and Gomez raget aus den Fluten.
  • Des stillen Meers, ein Felsen kahl und bloß.
  • Verbrannt von scheitelrechter Sonne Gluten.
  • Ein Steingestell ohn ‘alles Gras und Moos.
  • Das sich das Volk der Vögel auserkor.
  • Zur Ruhstatt im bewegten Meeresschoß.


Chamissonia Endl was dedicated to him (Gunckel 1982 ) and CAMeyer did the same Eriophorum chamissonis (Decler et al. 2006 ) An extensive list of botanical species was published in Linnaea.

The Adelbert von Chamisso Prize, created in 1985 by the Robert Bosch Foundation, is awarded annually to authors who, without being their mother tongue, write and publish in German. Among the winners are the Hungarian György Dalos and the Turkish Emine Sevgi Özdamar.


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