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Durham e-Theses
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The major literary polemicso Karl Kraus

Carr, Gilbert J. (1972) The major literary polemicso Karl Kraus. Doctoral thesis, Durham University.



This study of the most important of Kraus's polemics against literary contemporaries centres on the relation of language and character. Any attempt simply to extract his opinions or to measure his verdicts against accepted critical opinion has been eschewed, as a misinterpretation of Kraus's whole purpose. Since his polemics were two- pronged attacks - on style and character - his conceptions of language and personality are outlined, and also related to his demand that the polemicist should embody artistic values. As a background to his demand for unity of man and work, the construction of his persona and the dualism in his thought and its implications for his critical procedure are discussed. His polemics are assessed in relation to his success both in exposing opponents and in personally exemplifying his artistic ethic. His case against Hermann Bahr is amplified by independent evidence that suggests a closer connection between style and behaviour than is evident from Kraus's own polemics. In treating of the relation between ethics and style in the polemic against Maximilian Harden, the unity in Kraus's approach is contrasted to Harden’s dualism. Kraus's twenty-year feud with Alfred Kerr is traced in detail, their different tactics are analysed, and the discrepancy between moral victory and practical success is noted. Apart from the personal and publicistic aspects of the polemic against Franz Werfel, the crucial questions it raises as to the validity of Kraus's linguistic formula are discussed. This was relevant to polemical demands, but rather rigid, as particularly the Werfel case shows; Kraus did not investigate all significant manifestations of character in style. Against Stefan George he failed to exemplify his ideal of unity, in that his individual criticisms of George’s translations of Shakespeare's Sonnets are valid, but his own versions fall short of the perfection required to vindicate his polemical position.

Item Type:Thesis (Doctoral)
Award:Doctor of Philosophy
Thesis Date:1972
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:18 Sep 2013 09:31

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