Christoph Martin Wieland, a German author, born at Oberholzheim, Swabia, Sept. 5, 1733, died in Weimar, Jan. 20,1813. Soon after his birth his father settled as Protestant minister at Biberach. He displayed a precocious talent for poetry, and acquired an extensive knowledge of ancient and modern literature at his father's house and at the school of Klosterbergen, near Magdeburg. After spending about a year and a half at Erfurt, he went home in 1750. Marie Sophie Guterman von Gutershofen, hi3- cousin, then visiting his father, won his love, and ever after remained his friend, and for a time his literary guide, although in 1760 she married the councillor Laroche, under which name she became known in literature. After spending some time at the university of Tubingen, he accepted in 1752 Bodmer's hospitality at Zurich, assisting him in literary work. Subsequently he was a private teacher in that city, and for a short period in Bern, where he composed his tragedy Clementina von Porretta, after Bichardson's " Sir Charles Grandison." At Biberach, where in 1760 he became chief of the local administration, he translated 22 of Shakespeare's plays (8vo, Zurich, 1762-6), which paved the way for far superior translations.
A visit of Sophie Laroche and her husband to Count Stadion, in the vicinity of Biberach, brought Wieland into contact with persons of rank, and the count's extensive library improved his knowledge. In 1765 he contracted a happy marriage with an Augsburg lady, who bore him 14 children, and died in 1801. In 1769 he was appointed professor of philosophy at Erfurt; but the academical authorities had little regard for fanciful writers, and especially objected to his amatory poems, in defence of which he wrote Der verklagte Amor and Nachlass des Diogenes von Sinope (1770). At the same time he satirized Rousseau in his humorous novel Koxhox und Kikequetzel (1769-'70), and wrote Beiträge zur gelieimen Geschichte des menschlichen Verstandes und Herzens aus den Archiven der Natur (1770). The duchess Amalia of Saxe-Weimar-Eisenach engaged him in 1772 as teacher for her sons, the future grand duke Charles Augustus and his brother, and gave him the title of councillor and a salary, subsequently continued as a pension, of 1,000 thalers. At this time there was a general outcry against him as a licentious and atheistical writer. Lavater called upon all good Christians to pray for the sinner; and in 1773, on Klopstock's birthday, Wieland's works were burned by the disciples of that poet.
But gradually he became better appreciated. He founded at Weimar the Deutscher Merhur, a monthly periodical, which he edited for many years, and in which his explanatory notes relating to his lyric drama Alceste and his general treatment of mythological heroes resulted in a controversy with Goethe and Herder, and in the former's Goiter, Helden und Wieland. Goethe, after his arrival in 1775 at Weimar, became a friend of Wieland, who had replied to his adverse criticism with characteristic placidity. He resided at his country seat of Osmannstedt near Weimar from 1797 to 1803, when he removed to that city and became intimate with Schiller. To the last he remained a favorite of the court and literary circles. He was buried in the garden of his country house by the side of his wife and of Sophie Brentano, the granddaughter of Sophie Laroche. Soon after his death Goethe delivered a memorial address before the.Amalia-Loge, of which Wieland had been a life-long member. A bronze statue of him by Gasser was placed on the Wielandsplatz at Weimar in 1857, shortly before the erection of Rietschel's double statue of Goethe and Schiller. - Wieland's epics were the forerunners of the romantic school; his style and influence imparted a high degree of grace and elegance to German poetry, and made it more attractive to the cultivated classes.
At the same time he greatly promoted classical culture by his translations of Horace's epistles and satires, and his commentaries upon them, and by his versions of Aristophanes and his complete translation of Lucian, which served as a basis for Tooke's in English. He also composed many German imitations after Lucian, edited the Attisches Museum (17961804) and the Neues Attisches Museum (jointly with others, 1805-'9), and at the time of his death had translated and annotated a large portion of Cicero's letters (5 vols., 1808-'12). His most celebrated work is the romantic poem Oberon (1780; new annotated edition by Köhler, 1868; English translation by W. Sotheby, London, 1826). His other works comprise the didactic poems Musarion (1768) and Die Grazien (1770); the comic poem Der neue Amadis (1771); the novels Geschichte des Agathon (1766-7) and Aristipp und einige seiner Zeitgenossen (1800-1); the picture of an ideal state in Der goldene Spiegel, oder die Könige von Scheschian (1772); and the humorous Geschichte der Abderiten (1774; English translation, " The Republic of Fools, being the History of the State and People of Abdera in Thrace," by H. Christmas, 2 vols., London, 1861). After his death were published selections from his correspondence (4 vols., Zurich, 1815, and 2 vols., Vienna, 1815), and his Briefe an Sophie La Roche (Berlin, 1820). Wieland revised his complete works (42 vols., Leipsic, 1794-1802; new eds., 50 vols., 1818-'28, 36 vols., 1839-'40, and 36vols., Stuttgart, 1851-'6). His life has been written by Gruber (4 vols., Leipsic, 1827) and Löbell (Brunswick, 1858).