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Rudolf Kassner and Hugo von Hofmannsthal: Criticism as Art

The Reception of Pre-Raphaelitism in "fin de siècle</I> Vienna


Steve Rizza

This study examines the theory and practice of criticism as art in Kassner's and Hofmannsthal's essays on Pre-Raphaelitism. Chapter one considers Hofmannsthal's admiration for Kassner's Die Mystik, die Künstler und das Leben (1900), focusing on the writers' shared interest in English art. Hofmannsthal's essays on Pre-Raphaelitism are interpreted with reference to the aesthetic of the Blätter für die Kunst and the images of aestheticism in his work of the 1890s. Chapter two introduces Kassner's early life and work, outlining the development of his conception of criticism, and relating his earliest interests to those of Jung-Wien. Chapter three analyses the treatment of criticism and Pre-Raphaelitism in Die Mystik, showing the similarities and differences between both writers' reception of English art, and explaining Hofmannsthal's response to the volume. A postscript suggests directions for further research.
Contents: The Artist as Critic: Hugo von Hofmannsthal (Die andere Kunst: Hofmannsthal's Essays on English Art in Context) - Preconditions: Kassner's early Life and Work (Critical Blindness and Artistic Insight: Sonnengnade) - The Critic as Artist: Rudolf Kassner (An Imaginative History of Pre-Raphaelitism).