The Prague Circle: Franz Kafka, Egon Erwin Kisch, Max Brod, Franz Werfel, Paul Kornfeld, and Their Legacies


Shearier, Stephen, Ph.D.


Stephen Shearier holds a Ph.D., cum laude, in German Language and Literature from the University of Wisconsin. He has taught at the University of Wisconsin, New York University, Rutgers University, CUNY, and the New School. Among his publications are articles on Naturlyrik in East and West Germany, Reinhard Sorge, and Franz Kafka, along with biographies of expressionist writers and a book-length study of expressionist theater in Berlin. Dr. Shearier is now retired and lives in New York City, where he is working on his next volume of poetry.

A group of mostly Jewish German-speaking writers, the Prague Circle included some of the most significant figures in modern Western literature. Its core members, Franz Kafka, Max Brod, Franz Werfel, Paul Kornfeld, and Egon Erwin Kisch, are renowned for their seminal dramas, lyric poetry, novels, short stories, and essays on aesthetics. The writers of the Prague Circle were bound together not by a common perspective or a particular ideology, but by shared experiences and interests. From their vantage point in the Bohemian capital during the early decades of the twentieth century, they witnessed first-hand the collapse of the familiar and predictable, if not entirely comfortable, monarchical old order and the ascent of an anxious and uncertain modern era that led inexorably to fascism, militarization, and war. In order to deal with their new challenges, they considered strategies as diverse and oppositional as the members of the Prague Circle themselves. Their responses were shaped to various degrees by Catholicism, Zionism, expressionism, activism, anti-activism, international solidarity with the working class, and transcendence. Stephen Shearier explores how these authors aligned themselves on the spectrum of the Activism Debate, which preceded the much studied Expressionist Debate by a generation. This study examines the critical reception of these influential literary figures to determine how their legacies have been shaped.

Literature, History, Philosophy, Aesthetics, Jewish History, Modernism, Expressionism, Prague Circle, German Literature, Franz Kafka, Max Brod, Franz Werfel, Paul Kornfeld, Egon Erwin Kisch
Release Date: 
February 1, 2022
9781680537765 Hardcover
Trim Size: 

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