Gotthelf, Jeremias (yārāmēˈäs gôtˈhĕlf) [key], 1797–1854, Swiss writer and clergyman. His real name was Albert Bitzius; his pen name is that of the hero of his autobiographical Bauernspiegel (1837). Gotthelf, working as Protestant pastor in Bern canton, took an active interest in the education and economic improvement of the poverty-stricken rural population. His 38 volumes of prose are characterized by Christian fervor, humor, sincerity, and vigor. Many were written in the Swiss-German idiom. Best known are Ulric, the Farm Servant (1840, tr. 1888) and Die schwarze Spinne [The Black Spider] (1842, tr. 1975).
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