Georg Büchner

Georg Buchner Coin

Georg Büchner, born on this day in 1813, was truly a man of many parts. A scientist and medical doctor who published ground-breaking work in the field of anatomy, he was also a revolutionary agitator exiled from his native state (The Grand Duchy of Hesse) in fear of torture and imprisonment, as well as the unsung author of a handful of literary masterpieces so far ahead of their time that they would not be recognized for many decades after his death, of typhus, at the age of 23. Among writers perhaps only John Keats achieved so much in such a short life. Büchner’s short story Lenz has been described as “the beginning of modern European prose”, while his most celebrated work, the unfinished play Woyzeck has become an iconic work of German literature, inspiring, among others, Alban Berg’s great opera Wozzeck and Werner Herzog’s brilliant film. For the two-hundredth anniversary of his birth the government of Germany issued a 10 Euro commemorative silver coin, as well as a postage stamp in his honour. One can only wonder what Büchner, whose radical art gave a voice to the most ignored and oppressed of humankind, would have made of this tribute.

Georg Buchner Stamp

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