“Hey, Simp, is that you?” - A Short Discussion on Simplicity in The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus | Teen Ink

“Hey, Simp, is that you?” - A Short Discussion on Simplicity in The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus

June 21, 2022
By ConnorKu BRONZE, Yorba Linda, California
ConnorKu BRONZE, Yorba Linda, California
4 articles 0 photos 8 comments

Though the topic of this discussion/review is simplicity, do not think for a moment that the novel is simple as well. The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus paints the life of a simple, naive boy, and promptly buries it in the corruption, vice, and bloodshed of the Thirty Years’ War. Already widely known as the “first great German novel,” I doubt I need to argue the book’s impressiveness. However, I hope that this article will compel you to read it if you haven’t already.

      1. easily understood or done; presenting no difficulty.
      2. plain, basic, or uncomplicated in form, nature, or design; without much decoration or ornamentation.

What makes someone simple? Being plain? Basic? Easily understood? Not quite. Or at least I do not believe so. These definitions of simple are easily applied to a task or an object, but when defining simplicity in a person, the meaning becomes… less simple…

Perhaps “simple” denotes a lack of intelligence in a being–like how “simpleton” often refers to someone foolish or gullible. But does that not imply that all who are foolish are also simple? I, for one, have my fair share of simpletons in my life, but I do not consider any of them simple. Each individual is so complex, it would simply be wrong to label one as such.

Simplicius Simplicissimus, the protagonist of the creatively named novel, The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus, might be the key to understanding what makes one simple. So extensively deprived of knowledge that he does not know people exist outside the farm he lives on, the protagonist is essentially a tabula rasa, or blank slate, upon which nothing has been inscribed. Here the protagonist is simple, but I cannot ascertain what truly constitutes his simplicity. Is it the aforementioned emptiness of his contents? How he does not yearn to fill said contents? Or is it his simple way of living, pursuing the few happinesses his sheltered mind is cognizant of?

Well, we cannot observe him in this state any longer, as soldiers raid his home shortly after the novel’s introduction, raping, torturing, and killing most of his family and their servants. Escaping into the forest, the protagonist meets a pious hermit, who reluctantly takes him in. Frustrated with the young protagonist’s lack of knowledge and common sense, the old hermit names him Simplicius, and their life together begins. Not knowing much else, Simplicius absorbs all the teachings and gospel poured into him by the hermit. But even with all of the knowledge imparted by the hermit, Simplicius is still… well… simple. Living together for several years, the two form a close bond, which is abruptly ended by the hermit’s sudden death. Setting out to find a village… Bah! Read the book yourself. The point is, the simple Simplicius’ story is becoming more and more complex. For how much longer will he remain simple? And can he ever regress once he loses his simplicity?



Works Cited

Oxford Languages. Oxford University Press, 2022, languages.oup.com. Accessed 21 June 2022.

von Grimmelshausen, H. J. C. The Adventures of Simplicius Simplicissimus. Penguin Classics, 2018.

The author's comments:

“Dear, dear hermaphrodite, please let me keep my little prayer book!” (53). 

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This article has 3 comments.

on Jun. 28 at 5:24 pm
connielee10809 BRONZE, Fullerton, California
3 articles 0 photos 11 comments
It's clear and concise, I like your article.

reeuh BRONZE said...
on Jun. 28 at 5:12 pm
reeuh BRONZE, Fullerton, California
2 articles 0 photos 8 comments
A simply perfect review for the simple story of Simplicius Simplicissimus. 👍

on Jun. 28 at 5:10 pm
IreneKim SILVER, Fullerton, California
6 articles 0 photos 6 comments
Nice! I like the humorous tone.