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Austrian-Jewish writer and journalist, known particularly for his satires of fin-de-siècle Vienna through books, plays, and his journal Die Fackel [The Torch] (1899-1936).

Career Summary

Kraus began his journalistic career with the Wiener Literaturzeitung in 1892, becoming the Vienna correspondent for the Breslauer Zeitung in 1897, by which time he had briefly been a member of the Jung Wien (Young Vienna) group, which included among others Peter Altenberg, Hermann Bahr, and Hugo von Hofmannsthal.

Up to 1911, while editor of Die Fackel, Kraus accepted contributions from many writers, including Oskar Kokoschka, Adolf Loos, Heinrich Mann, and Arnold Schoenberg. From 1911 on, Kraus was the sole contributor. He strongly opposed World War I in Die Fackel, in his play Die letzten Tage der Menschheit: Tragödie in fünf Akten mit Vorspiel und Epilog [The Last Days of Mankind: Tragedy in Five Acts with Preamble and Epilogue] (1922), and in the book Weltgericht [World Court] (1919).

Other publications included: Sittlichkeit und Kriminalität [Morality and Criminal Justice] (1908), Sprüche und Widersprüche [Sayings and Contradictions] (1909), and Die Unüberwindlichen [The Insurmountables] (1928).

Kraus and Schenker

Schenker evidently read Die Fackel, for he commented on it and on Kraus himself in his diaries (the earliest occasion being December 23, 1906) and in correspondence.

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Correspondence

  • WSLB 302 Handwritten letter from Schenker to Hertzka (UE), May 18, 1919

    Schenker reminds Hertzka of Hans Weisse's doctoral dissertation, Der Kunstwalzer, and recommends it for publication. He laments, in provocatively vulgar language, that the Viennese have become subservient to the French.

  • DLA 69.930/10 Handwritten letter from Schenker to Halm, dated September 25, 1922

    Acknowledges OJ 11/35, 20 and composition; expects to be able to comment on Halm's Klavierübung in Tonwille 4; reports Leipzig University's decision not to appoint him; speculates on the impact of Kontrapunkt 2 and Der freie Satz; public difficulty in accepting Urgesetze. — Aristide Briand: The importance of being well-read on a topic before commenting in public: Schoenberg and Reger; newspapers. — Maximilian Harden: although faithful to Schenker, Harden had not mastered the topics on which he wrote. — National Govenment: Schenker's publishing plans, including "The Future of Humanity": man's anthropomorphic thinking is a delusion, he needs to adapt to nature, to return to a primitive state, to abandon "development" and "progress" and return to primordial laws; inferior man wants to "govern" (bowel wants to become brain); Schenker deplores "artifice" (French) as against nature (German). — Things French: praises German superiority over French in its joy of work. — Higher Plane: the German should not abase himself before the Frenchman.

Diaries