KRAUS, KARL


KRAUS, KARL
KRAUS, KARL (1874–1936), Austrian satirist and poet. Born in Bohemia as the last of nine children to Jacob Kraus, a paper manufacturer, and his wife Ernestine née Kantor, Kraus was one of the greatest stylists in the German language and a vitriolic critic of the liberal culture of pre-Nazi Austria. In 1877 the family moved to Vienna; in 1892 Kraus enrolled in the university there to study law, philosophy, and German literature but never completed a degree. Though at first associated with the well-known Jung-Wien circle of writers, which included Arthur Schnitzler, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, and Stefan Zweig, he distanced himself from them in 1897 with the publication of Die demolierte Literatur, a political satire of the groups' activities. In 1899 he founded Die Fackel, an aggressively satirical magazine, which he wrote single-handedly beginning in 1911 and edited until his death. At times Kraus was a conservative moralist who tirelessly attacked hypocrisy and the permissive intellectual atmosphere fostered by Austrian liberalism; however, he also advocated more liberal attitudes toward sex in Viennese society. He yearned for a return to the aristocratic government of an earlier, more disciplined era. His greatest venom and most pungent wit were, however, reserved for corrupters of the language. Kraus, who left the Jewish religious community in 1899, was baptized in 1911, and then left the Catholic Church in 1922, had few kind things to say about Judaism. He blamed Jews themselves and the "Jewish press" (particularly the Neue Freie Press) for the existence of antisemitism. His pamphlet Eine Krone fuer Zion (1898) mocks Zionism, while Heine und die Folgen (1910) gives a disparaging estimate of the German-Jewish poet. Kraus' many essays were collected in six volumes (1908–37) and four volumes of epigrams and aphorisms appeared between 1909 and 1927. His most important drama is the lengthy Die letzten Tage der Menschheit (1919). This play, which if performed in its entirety would take ten evenings, is a massive diatribe on the collapse of civilization in World War I, consisting largely of verbatim extracts from the newspapers of the period. Kraus' Untergang der Welt durch schwarze Magie was published in 1922. His lyric poetry, in which he displays a scrupulous form, appeared between 1916 and 1930 in nine volumes titled Worte in Versen. It was not until Hitler turned his attention to Austria that Kraus brought his satire to bear on the evils of Nazism, but to the last day his battles were fought mainly against the Viennese liberal and socialist press. Auswahl aus dem Werk, containing selections from 11 of Kraus's works, was published in 1961. -BIBLIOGRAPHY: O. Kerry, Karl Kraus Bibliographie (1954); L. Liegler, Karl Kraus und sein Werk (1920); E. Bin-Gorion, Der Fackel-Reiter (1932); R. Schaukal, Karl Kraus (1933); E. Heller, The Disinherited Mind (1952); W. Kraft, Karl Kraus (1956); Grunberger, in: JC (Dec. 24, 1965), Literary Supplement; C. Kohn, Karl Kraus le polémiste et l'écrivain… (1962); F. Field, The Last Days of Mankind: Karl Kraus and his Vienna (1967); H. Zohn, Wiener Library Bulletin, 24 (1970), no. 2, n.s. no. 19, 22–260. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: W. Benjamin, Karl Kraus (1931); G. Carr and E. Timms (eds.), Reading Karl Kraus: Essays on the Reception of Die Fackel (2001); K. Krolop, Refexionen der Fackel: neue Studien ueber Karl Kraus (1994); L. Lensing, "Karl Kraus Writes 'He's a Jew After All'," in: Yale Companion to Jewish Writing and Thought in German Culture, 10961996 (1997), 313–21; P. Reitter, "The Soul of Form: Karl Kraus, Essayism and Jewish Identity in Finde-Siecle Vienna" (diss. 1999); "Karl Kraus and the Jewish Self-Hatred Question," in: Jewish Social Studies, 10:1 (2003), 78–116; F. Rothe, Karl Kraus, die Biographie (2003); E. Timms, Karl Kraus: Apocalyptic Satirist (1986); idem, Karl Kraus: Apocalyptic Satirist, Volume 2: The Postwar Crisis and the Rise of the Swastika (2005); N. Wagner, Geist und Geschlecht: Karl Kraus und die Erotik der Wiener Moderne (1987); H. Zohn, Karl Kraus and the Critics (1997); idem, "Karl Kraus: 'Juedischer Selbsthasser' oder 'Erzjude'," in: Modern Austrian Literature, 8 (1975), 1–19; idem, Karl Kraus (1971). (Harry Zohn / Lisa Silverman (2nd ed.)

Encyclopedia Judaica. 1971.

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  • Kraus, Karl — born April 28, 1874, Gitschin, Bohemia died June 12, 1936, Vienna, Austria Austrian journalist, critic, playwright, and poet. In 1899 he founded Die Fackel, a literary and political review, and by 1911 he had become its sole author; he continued… …   Universalium

  • Kraus, Karl — (1874–1936)    Like so many leading intellectuals in fin de siècle Vienna, Kraus was not a native of the city, but he was raised there. Born in Bohemia of Jewish extraction, he was baptized a Catholic and remained in the church until 1923. Though …   Historical dictionary of Austria

  • Kraus, Karl — (1874 1936)    Austrian satirist and poet. He was born in a provincial Bohemian town; when he was three his family moved to Vienna. He studied law at the University of Vienna and began writing at the age of 18. He founded a satirical magazine Die …   Dictionary of Jewish Biography

  • Kraus, Karl — (28 abr. 1874, Gitschin, Bohemia–12 jun. 1936, Viena, Austria). Periodista, crítico, dramaturgo y poeta austríaco. En 1899 fundó Die Fackel, revista literaria y política, y en 1911 se había transformado en su único autor; continuó publicándola… …   Enciclopedia Universal

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