Chronology of Gebser’s Life 

Compiled by Aaron Cheak

Jean Gebser (1905-1973) was born in Posen (Poznan), a formerly Prussian city that now belongs to Poland. He travelled widely, living in Germany, Italy, Spain, France, before finally settling in Switzerland. The following chronology of his life and work is based largely upon Rudolf Hämmerli's ‘Chronologie’ to the German edition of Gebser's Collected Works (Gesamtausgabe VII, 437-43).

 Poznan (Posen), Gebser's  Geburtstadt . Formerly part of the Prussian Empire, Poznan is now part of western Poland.

Poznan (Posen), Gebser's Geburtstadt. Formerly part of the Prussian Empire, Poznan is now part of western Poland.

1905
Born in Posen, August 20. 

1907
October: birth of sister Charlotte.
November: death of sister Ilse.

1910
Moves to Breslau. 

1915
Breslau to Königsberg.
Outbreak of World War I.

1917-18
Königsberg to Berlin.
Father becomes a lawyer.

1918
April. Sent to the cloister school, Roßleben. Experience of primordial trust.
Withdrawn from Roßleben, moves to Berlin. 

1922
Death of father.

1923
March. Leaves school. Begins apprenticeship in a Berlin bank. 

1924-5    
Becomes a Werkstudent at Humbolt University, Berlin.
Attends lectures by Guardini (intellectual history), Sombart (economics), Hahn (ethnology), and Holtsch (European history).

1925       
Quits the bank after completion of the apprenticeship.
Leaves home. Founds the “Stomps & Gebser Buch- und kunstdruckerei-Verlaganstalt” with V. O. Stomps.
Publishes the periodical Der Sturm by Herwarth Walden.
In the same year he co-founds the Rabenpresse with Stomps and publishes Fischzug: Monatsblätter zur Förderung werdender Literatur (The Catch: Monthly for Emerging Literature). Publishes his first poems.

1927       
Quits the venture with Stomps. Spends a short time in the Engadine (Switzerland).

1928       
Winter. Enters the Goethe bookstore as a volunteer.

1929       
Autumn. Departs for Florence, works in a large academic second hand bookstore.

1930       
Attempts to settle down once again, this time in Munich.
Works with publisiher Kurt Wolf.

1931-2    
Leaves Germany indefinitely.
Travels to Paris, the south of France, and then Spain.
Inspiration for The Ever-Present Origin occurs at Malaga, Spain.

1932-5    
Becomes a member of the Spanish Republic’s Ministry for Education.
Befriends Frederico Garcia Lorca and other Spanish poets.
Translates and publishes their work: New Spanish Poetry (Neue Spanishche Dichtung).

1936       
Rilke and Spain written in Spanish, but not published due to outbreak of the Spanish Civil War. Departs Madrid in October. Arrested and imprisoned by anarchists in Valencia; Spanish friends save him from being shot. Lorca is murdered. Gebser’s apartment is bombed. Twelve hours later he departs Spain for France.

1937-9    
Resides in France after a short time in Switzerland.
Enters the circle of Eluard, Aragon, Malraux and Picasso.

1939       
30 August, Gebser enters Switzerland two hours before the border is closed.
World War II begins.

1940       
Rilke and Spain (Rilke und Spanien) published.

1941       
Settles in the Locarno-Muralto region of Switzerland.
Writes Transformation of the West (Abendländische Wandlung).

1942       
Marries Gentiane Hélène Schoch.
Enters the Eranos circle: Carl Gustav Jung, Karl Kerényi, Adolf Portmann, D. T. Suzuki etc.

1943       
Transformation of the West (Abendländische Wandlung) published.

1944       
Gebser’s mother dies of multiple sclerosis.
Writes the Winter Poem (Wintergedicht).
The Grammatical Mirror (Der grammatische Spiegel) published.

1947       
Lecturer at the Psychological Seminar of the Institute for Applied Psychology, Zurich.
Lecture series: ‘On the History of the Representations of Soul and Spirit’.
Writes Lorca or the Realm of the Mothers.

1947-8    
Works on volume one of The Ever-Present Origin, under the working title of The Aperspectival World.

1948       
Moves to Burgdorf.

1949       
Lorca or the Realm of the Mothers published.
Volume one of The Ever-Present Origin published.

1950       
Begins work on volume two of The Ever-Present Origin.

1951        
Becomes a citizen in Burgdorf.
International, interdisciplinary conference held at the University of St. Gallen on the theme of The New Worldview (Die neue Weltschau).
Lectures broadcast via radio; conference proceedings published as a book under same title. Material informs volume two of The Ever-Present Origin.

1952       
Completes volume two of The Ever-Present Origin. Journeys to Spain (Torremolinos).

1953       
Volume two of The Ever-Present Origin appears.
Second international, interdisciplinary conference held at St. Gallen.

1954       
Radio broadcasts with Karl Jaspers, Adolf Portmann and H. Bender.

1955       
Separates from his wife.
Moves to Bern.
Health breakdown: emergency operation required for a hernia.

1956       
Recipient of the Deutschen Schiller-Preis, awarded by West German president, Theodor Heuss, in Bonn.

1957-8    
Lecture series held each year at the Residenz in Munich: A New Vision of the World (Die Welt in neuer Sicht). Conference proceedings published under same title.
Journeys to Provence (henceforth, frequent trips to Provence and Paris).
Spends two months in Greece.

1960       
Lecture series at the New Helvetica Society (Neuen Helvetischen Gesellschaft) in Bern: Ways to the New Reality (Wege zur neuen Wirklichkeit).
Conference proceedings published under same title.

1961       
March through July: journeys through Asia (India, Nepal, Pakistan, Burma, Thailand, Cambodia, Hong-Kong, Taiwan, Japan and China).

1962       
A Guide to Asia (Asienfibel) published.
Standing the Test: Ten Indicators of the New Consciousness (In der Bewährung: Zehn Hinweise auf das neue Bewußtsein) published (selection of papers delivered between 1951 and 1960).

1964      
Recipient of the German Literature Award of the Artist’s Guild of Esslingen.
Recipient of the Kogge Literature Award of the City of Minden.

1964-5    
Winter. Travels to North and South America.

1965       
Recipient of the Literature Award of the City of Bern.
Receives a Festschrift for his sixtieth birthday: Transparent World (Transparente Welt).

1966       
Second edition of The Ever-Present Origin published.
Health breakdown and emergency operation. Miraculously survives but never fully recovers his health.

1967       
February through June: health retreat in Ascona.
Becomes Honarary Professor for Comparative Cultural/Civilisational Theory at the University of Salzburg. Unable to take up position due to health.

1968       
Asia Smiles Differently (Asien lächelt anders), an expanded version of A Guide to Asia (Asienfibel), published.

1970       
Marries Jo Körner.
The Invisible Origin (Der unsichtbare Ursprung) published.

1971       
Visits Werner Heisenberg and Lama Anagarika Govinda.

1972       
Visited by Pandit Gopi Krishna.
Delivers keynote lecture at a medical conference in Bad Boll, Germany, entitled ‘Primordial Angst and Primordial Trust’ (Urangst und Urvertrauen).

1973       
Writes his last piece shortly before his death: foreword to Disintegration and Participation (Verfall und Teilhabe).
Dies 14 May at home at Wabern, near Bern.
After his death, the pocket-book edition of The Ever-Present Origin, which Gebser worked on until the very end, appeared.

1974       
Disintegration and Participation (Verfall und Teilhabe) published (posthumous).