Jeremias Gotthelf Research Center


Editionsbände 2012–2019
© 2019, Jeremias Gotthelf Research Center

The scholarly Gotthelf edition, in both its print edition (HKG) –stands for Historisch-kritische Gesamtausgabe– and digital (dHKG) formats, seeks to facilitate access to the works of Albert Bitzius, the pastor of Lützelflüh, and the popular writer, Jeremias Gotthelf. Our aim is to make his work completely accessible for in-depth study, be that by students, researchers, or the wider circle of an interested general public.

This edition showcases, for the first time, the most comprehensive collection of his complete works: In addition to the initial critical edition of all of his accessible manuscripts, furthermore it introduces, also a novelty, all published material of the poet as they appeared during his lifetime, in his own words. In this way, the edition places emphasis on a historical-discursive contextualization of his work, which engenders a more holistic understanding of the political, pastoral and literary activity of Gotthelf in his time. Conversely, the addition of large annotated commentaries to his well-known novels and lesser known works are included in this edition, enabling access to the various contexts of his time through his work.

The print edition addresses an academic audience by emphasizing a classical philological presentation of the texts. The digital edition, on the other hand, seeks to appeal to a wider audience, whether they are professionals, students, or general readers. The central goal for this digital Gotthelf edition is to offer intuitively comprehensible access into all components of the edition for these mentioned groups. Thus, the edition utilises various extended media platforms for viewing the text presentation in varying ways (reading text, genetic text, text-coding, facsimile). 

Furthermore, innovative orientation support, possibility of navigation, and forms of visualisation are tools that have only just begun to be established over the last few years within the framework of digital humanities. This includes time line, calendar, archive folders, context of work, keyword clouds, thematic overviews. We augment these features with intelligent search tools.

The contents of the edition are both interconnected with each other via manifold shortcuts (register, entities, norm data) and linked with external resources that offer additional context information (editions, lexica, dictionaries, data bases).


The new edition brought about a number of challenges of transmission: The numerous political and historical allusions in the original texts, their implied religious background, and certain stylistic properties posed barriers to dissemination, which particularly affected the distribution in schools or in the German speaking areas abroad. For this reason, it is necessary to comment on the texts in their proper, respective contemporary context. An annotated edition may form the basis for subsequent reader`s editions, and it may equally well be utilised for classroom purposes. However, the benefit of such editions is not limited to making the text more accessible; instead they are instrumental to recognising Gotthelf`s texts in their original intended frame of reference. That is to say, once the texts are read and understood in their originally intended function as commentary on historical contemporary developments, only then can they serve today`s reader as windows to the past. This applies particularly to historical, as well as literary-historical audiences, for whom the texts convey important insights on the periods of restoration and regeneration in the early stages of the federal state of Switzerland. Proper historical contextualisation necessitates an interdisciplinary co-operation between historians, theologians, and literary scientists, and indeed, members of these disciplines work closely together at the Research Center. Additionally, the composition of the scientific board of advisers provides for such an interdisciplinary focus.


The texts are established entirely in accordance with state of the art methodology in textual criticism. Two types of texts will be provided: First, the entire body of authorised first editions by Gotthelf himself, including his own manuscripts andhis subsequent revisions therein; and secondly, Gotthelf`s adaptation of texts intended for publication in the German book-market, issued primarily by the publishing house Julius Springer. 

Another innovation compared to earlier editions is the inclusion of the entire and complete oeuvre in all of its original renditions. Each novel, and every section of the work is annotated with an extensive introduction as well as with explanations of select passages, all of which permit accessing the text`s formative and historic contexts.


One of our major challenges is to explore the charisma of Gotthelf`s reputation as a world class storyteller within the realm of German literature. And in doing so, we seek to establish particularly the reasons for his success and popularity in Germany. Furthermore, the HKG (Historisch Kritische Gesamtausgabe) contributes to the general recognition of Gotthelf as a classic author of world standing in the 19th century, alongside the likes of Gottfried Keller, Heinrich Heine, Adalbert Stifter und Annette von Droste-Hülshoff. Significant scholarly editions of these authors` works have already either been established or are in the process of being compiled. From the very start and formation of the Gotthelf-Edition one key objective has been to establish the most sustainable means of preserving Gotthelf`s works comprehensively and enduringly, within Europe`s cultural heritage, and to supply that work with suitable commentaries. Such objectives can be readily achieved with an edition that both serves as a basis for future text-editions and as a stimulant for further academic research. A sophisticated edition fulfils this task better than a hurriedly published text-edition that would lack any critical influence on research and education. Establishing a textual basis on sound philological foundations establishes an elementary resource for educational purposes and serves as a starting point for anthological projects. Furthermore, it provides a background for additional explorations on the history of formation and international reception of Gotthelf’s texts. These points underscore the ambitions of the HKG.