Kraus, Karl, 1874-1936

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From the description of Die stunde des todes : literary manuscript, 1926. (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 79455305

Karl Kraus

Karl Kraus was born on April 28, 1874 in Gitschin, Bohemia (modern Jičin, Czech Republic), then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The son of Jakob Kraus, a wealthy Jewish papermaker and businessman, and his wife Ernestine Kantor, Karl moved with his family to Vienna in 1877. He began to study law at the University of Vienna in 1892, but after changing his major to philosophy and German studies, he decided to leave the university in 1896 without a degree in hand.

Still in his early twenties, Kraus launched himself into a career in literature, publishing the first issue of a new journal, Die Fackel ("The Torch"), in April 1899. Kraus attracted a number of well-known artists and writers to Die Fackel in its first decade, however, by 1911 Kraus had become virtually the sole contributor. Despite the dearth of other writers, Kraus continued to edit and publish Die Fackel until his death in 1936.

Kraus is typically considered a key member of the fin de siècle literary and artistic culture in Vienna. This group included artists such as Gustav Klimt, a pioneer of the Art Nouveau movement, and a later the Expressionist painter Oskar Kokoschka, who painted a portrait of Kraus. Typically, the writers and painters associated with Kraus were immersed in the twin ideas of both cultural decadence and imminent change. Die Fackel, in fact, was intended to hold a "torch" to the hypocrisy of German and Austrian society and the Austro-Hungarian government. In his writing, Kraus criticized everything from psychoanalysis to the corruption of the Habsburg Empire, laissez-faire economic policies, and the nationalism of the pan-German (Großdeutschland) movement, among many other topics.

However, Kraus was not limited to biting essays on subjects of cultural concern, nor was he necessarily limited to these particular subjects in all of his writing. Kraus is known for using an array of literary vehicles to express himself, including essays, plays, poems, and aphorisms. His best-known work is the satirical play, Die letzten Tage der Menschheit ("The Last Days of Mankind"), a massive piece about World War I. Kraus also exhibited a lasting interest in language, about which he wrote regularly in Die Fackel as well as in books such as Die Sprache (Language). His linguistic interests also led him to re-translate Shakespeare's sonnets in 1932.

The fact that newspaper articles discussing Kraus and his work could still be found in German-language newspapers nearly 30 years after his death speaks to his strong influence in German literature and cultural studies. His last writing, an issue of Die Fackel, appeared in February 1936. He died in Vienna four months later on June 12, 1936, from a stroke and heart failure.

From the guide to the Karl Kraus Collection MS 470., 1880-1962, 1930-1962, (Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Kraus, Karl, 1874-1936. Correspondence from Franz Werfel, 1911-1916. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Kraus, Karl, 1874-1936. Die Fackel, 1908-1932. American Primers
referencedIn Richard Beer-Hofmann correspondence, 1882-1967. Houghton Library.
referencedIn Wolff, Kurt, 1887-1963. Kurt Wolff archive, 1907-1938. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Nádherny von Borutin, Sidonie, Freiin, 1885-1950. Sidonie Nadherny papers, 1914-1950. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Menger, Carl, 1840-1921. Carl Menger Papers, 1855-1985 (bulk 1867-1921). Duke University Libraries, Duke University Library; Perkins Library
creatorOf Karl Kraus Collection MS 470., 1880-1962, 1930-1962 Special Collections and University Archives, University of Massachusetts Amherst Libraries
referencedIn Helen and Kurt Wolff papers, 1888-1994 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Wolff, Helen, 1906-1994. Helen and Kurt Wolff papers, 1888-1994. Yale University, Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Webern, Anton, 1883-1945. Vier Lieder / für / Gesang und Orchester / von / Anton Webern / op. 13 / Partitur. Pierpont Morgan Library.
referencedIn Correspondence from Franz Werfel, 1917. University of Pennsylvania Libraries, Van Pelt Library
creatorOf Die Stunde des Gerichtes : manuscript New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Zohn, Harry. Harry Zohn papers, 1897-2001. Harvard University, Houghton Library
referencedIn Kurt Wolff archive, 1907-1938 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Kraus, Karl, 1874-1936. Les derniers jours de l'humanité / Karl Kraus ; lecture par Denis Podalydès. Bibliothèque nationale de France, BnF
referencedIn Soyka, Otto, b. 1882. Begegnung mit (Erinnerungen an) Karl Kraus : manuscript, [19--]. Harvard University, Houghton Library
referencedIn Bibring, Edward, b. 1894. Papers of Edward and Grete L. Bibring, 1936-1953. Library of Congress
creatorOf Kraus, Karl, 1874-1936. Die Stunde des Gerichtes : manuscript. New York Public Library System, NYPL
creatorOf Kraus, Karl, 1874-1936. Die stunde des todes : literary manuscript, 1926. Library of Congress
creatorOf Webern, Anton, 1883-1945. Vier Lieder / für / Gesang und Orchester / von / Anton Webern / op. 13 / Partitur. Pierpont Morgan Library.
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
correspondedWith Beer-Hofmann, Richard, 1866-1945 person
associatedWith Bibring, Edward, b. 1894. person
associatedWith Kokoschka, Oskar, 1886-1980 person
associatedWith Kraft, Werner, 1896-1991 person
associatedWith Menger, Carl, 1840-1921. person
associatedWith Nádherny von Borutin, Sidonie, Freiin, 1885-1950. person
associatedWith Podalydès, Denis, 1963-.... person
associatedWith Rosenkranz, Moses. person
associatedWith Rosenrauch, Gabriel. person
associatedWith Soyka, Otto, b. 1882. person
associatedWith Webern, Anton, 1883-1945. person
associatedWith Wolff, Helen, 1906-1994. person
associatedWith Wolff, Kurt, 1887-1963. person
associatedWith Zohn, Harry. person
Place Name Admin Code Country
Vienna (Austria)
Subject
World War, 1939-1945
German literature
Occupation
Authors
Function

Person

Birth 1874-04-28

Death 1936-06-12

Austrians

German

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