Places: The Adventurous Simplicissimus

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

First published: Der abenteuerliche Simplicissimus, 1669 (English translation, 1912)

Type of work: Novel

Type of plot: Picaresque

Time of work: Early seventeenth century

Asterisk denotes entries on real places.

Places Discussed*Spessart

*Spessart. Adventurous Simplicissimus, TheTown in a mountainous region of Germany, not far from which is located the earthen hut where Simplicissimus lives until the age of ten, when the town is looted and destroyed by marauding soldiers. He returns to Spessart much later, having discovered his true parentage, to obtain documentary evidence of his real identity.

Hermit’s hut

Hermit’s hut. Mean refuge in the forest that Simplicissimus finds after the destruction of his first home, where he is educated in piety and poverty; this existence too is interrupted by marauding soldiers.


*Hanau. Fortified town where Simplicissimus is conscripted into domestic service in the governor’s house, where he progresses to the role of professional fool.

Hirschfeld Abbey

Hirschfeld Abbey. Quarters of the Croats who capture Simplicissimus from Hanau, where he acquires a new master; after fleeing therefrom he becomes embroiled in a witches’ Sabbath.


*Magdeburg. German city in which Simplicissimus arrives–apparently having flown there–after the witches’ Sabbath, to be conscripted yet again. It is there that he first meets Herzbruder and is charged with treason before being delivered into the service of another military master.


*Soest (sewst). Westphalian town where–after a brief interval of calm and comfort in a convent called Paradise–Simplicissimus begins to rise through the ranks of the dragoons, leading something of a double life as the “Huntsman.” His ambition to become an ensign is briefly advanced by his military exploits and his discovery of a treasure but is ended when he is captured by the Swedes.


Werl. Residence of the outlaw who duplicates Simplicissimus’s role as the Huntsman before becoming his friend and–in his secondary role as the god Jupiter–advisor on the complications of earthly current events.


*Lippstadt. Fortified town, two miles from Soest, where Simplicissimus is installed after his capture, and where he eventually rises to the rank of lieutenant colonel in the Swedish army. It is there, much later, that he misguidedly sends his wife for safety’s sake.


*Cologne (ka-LOHN). German city where the merchant who keeps Simplicissimus’s treasure in trust resides. Simplicissimus later returns to find that the merchant has been declared bankrupt. He returns again briefly, after returning to Germany from Vienna in search of a palliative for Herzbruder’s injuries.


*Paris. France’s capital city, to which Simplicissimus journeys after the collapse of his prospects in Cologne. There he becomes the successful comedian and gigolo Beau Alman (a contraction of “Allemand,” the French word for German). He never learns to love Paris, which seems to him to be a rather dirty city, and he contracts a venereal disease there, so he longs to return to his native land, although he has to make his way on foot, supporting himself as a dealer in quack medicines.


*Philippsburg. Town to which Simplicissimus is taken after being captured on his re-entry into Germany, where he becomes a common soldier again, undertaking further campaigns in that capacity before becoming a fugitive yet again.


*Vienna. Austrian imperial capital, to which Simplicissimus journeys after making a pilgrimage with Herzbruder to Einsiedeln, a shrine in Switzerland; he also convalesces in Vienna after receiving a leg wound in battle, having been conscripted yet again.


*Griesbach (grees-BAHK). Spa in Germany’s Black Forest, not far from Ulm, which becomes Simplicissimus’s base of operations when he takes Herzbruder there in search of a cure.


*Mummelsee. Lake from which Simplicissimus travels to the center of the earth, whose king shows him the floor of the Pacific Ocean and acquaints him with other marvels.


*Moscow. Russian city that is the objective of Simplicissimus’s final campaign, which interrupts the quiet life of scholarship to which he devotes his later years.

BibliographyAllen, Ann Taylor. Satire and Society in Wilhelmine Germany: Kladderadatsch and Simplicissimus, 1890-1914. Lexington: University Press of Kentucky, 1984. This work has an excellent history and criticism of The Adventurous Simplicissimus. Discussion of social problems as related to literature. Bibliography.Glasberg, Ronald. “The Perversions of Folly in Grimmelshausen’s Simplicius Simplicissimus: Foreshadowing of Nazism.” CLIO: A Journal of Literature, History, and the Philosophy of History 16, no. 3 (1987): 253-271. A great discussion of The Adventurous Simplicissimus and its characters. Attempts to bring Nazism into the article, but the character analysis is beneficial.Negus, Kenneth. Grimmelshausen. New York: Twayne, 1974. A wonderful book that notes major influences on Grimmelshausen. Includes a chapter on his sources and references. Bibliography.Richtie, J. M. “Grimmelshausen’s Simplicissimus and The Runagate Courage.” In Knaves and Swindlers: Essays on the Picaresque Novel in Europe, edited by Christine J. Whitbourn. London: Oxford University Press, 1974. An excellent essay integrating the Thirty Years’ War, Grimmelshausen’s life, and some of his other works. Bibliography.Wicks, Ulrich. Picaresque Narrative, Picaresque Fictions: A Theory and Research Guide. Westport, Conn.: Greenwood Press, 1989. An excellent beginning source. Describes the various aspects of a picaresque novel. Discusses The Adventurous Simplicissimus and its themes.
Categories: Places