ALTENBERG, PETER (pseudonym of Richard Englaender ; 1859–1919), Austrian author. The son of a merchant, Altenberg studied law and medicine in Vienna and worked briefly in the book trade. Eventually, he chose the life of a bohemian and became a familiar, picturesque figure in Viennese coffee houses and in the turn-of-the-century circles of "Young Vienna." In 1894, Altenberg published his first sketches. Fourteen volumes of his prose vignettes appeared. His subjects were Viennese characters and scenes and he portrayed them with delicacy, insight, and wit. His attitude towards Judaism was highly ambivalent. Among his major works are Wie ich es sehe (1896), Maerchen des Lebens (1908), and Vita ipsa (1918).
E. Friedell (ed.), Altenbergbuch (1921); A. Ehrenstein, in: G. Krojanker, Juden in der deutschen Literatur (1922), 193–97; E. Randak, Peter Altenberg (Ger., 1961); R.J. Klawitzer, in: Modern Austrian Literature, 1 (Winter 1968), 1–55. add. bibliography: A. Caspary, in: A. Kilcher (ed.), Metzler Lexikon der deutsch-juedischen Literatur (2000), 12–14.
[Harry Zohn /
Marcus Pyka (2nd ed.)]