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The Paper Ghetto

Karl Kraus and Anti-Semitism

John Theobald

The Paper Ghetto is the first full length study of Karl Kraus and anti-Semitism. Rooted in early twentieth century Vienna, it locates Kraus at the interface between the city's virulent popular anti-Semitism, and its dynamic and multi-faceted Jewish minority. Covering events ranging from the Dreyfus case to the First World War and the rise of Nazism, Kraus's enraged polemical portrayal of the incestuous relationship between media discourse, power and barbarism makes a seminal contribution to 20th century thought and remains deeply provocative today. Yet his contorted relationship with his Jewishness, which ultimately led him to blame Jewish cultural influence for Europe's descent into barbarism is repellant and profoundly shocking in a post-Holocaust culture. This account seeks to understand and evaluate critically Kraus's mentality and writings in the light of his position as a Jew. Its analysis provides insights into the problems of identity facing Jews in the pre-Nazi period, and adds a further texture to the ongoing debate on the causes of twentieth century barbarism.
Contents: Karl Kraus's critical and satirical writings on language, power and barbarism within his controversial relationship with his Jewishness and anti-Semitism in early 20th century Vienna - Disturbing effect of racism - Kraus' seminal insights.