November 21 marks the 200th anniversary of the German dramatist and novelist Heinrich von Kleist’s death but European literati have been celebrating all year long. Reflected glory is cast on Max Ring, a German Jewish poet and playwright who has not yet even been accorded a German-language Wikipedia entry despite lasting literary achievements.
Ring, a medical doctor as well as author, wrote an 1857 historical novel, “John Milton and his Times” and tributes to literary contemporaries in Berlin, the city where he died in 1901. Yet Ring, who was born in 1817 in Sudice, now part of the Czech Republic, and later moved to Gliwice and Wroclaw in Poland, is mostly remembered for an erstwhile funerary inscription. An 1862 poem by Ring written at the site where Kleist committed suicide includes the quatrain:
He lived, sang and suffered