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Haas, Willy


HAAS, WILLY (1891–1973), German essayist, critic, and translator. Born in Prague, where he studied law, Haas belonged to the literary circle of Franz *Werfel, Paul *Kornfeld, Max *Brod, and Franz *Kafka. While still a student he published in the Herder-Blaetter (1911–12), which was an early organ of the young German-Jewish poets of Prague. Moving to Berlin after the war, in which he served as officer, Haas pursued his career as a journalist, writing film reviews and screenplays and publishing among other things an essay in 1922 on his spiritual teacher Hugo von *Hofmannsthal emphasizing his Jewishness (in: Juden in der deutschen Literatur, ed. G. Krojanker), for which he was criticized by Hofmannsthal himself. Haas founded and edited the weekly, Die literarische Welt, from 1925 to 1933, which soon turned out to be one of the most important intellectual platforms in the Weimar Republic. With the rise of Nazism Haas went back to Prague trying to continue his weekly under the title Die Welt im Wort, and in 1939 to India working for a British film company. He returned to Germany in 1947 and joined the editorial staff of Die Welt in Hamburg. Haas dealt with the more profound problems of contemporary literary and cultural life and became one of postwar Germany's leading critics and essayists. He published books on Brecht (1958), Hofmannsthal (1964), the Belle Époque (1967), and his autobiography, Die literarische Welt (1957), where he gives a detailed account of his life in three countries.

add. bibliography:

L. Valentini, Willy Haas (1986); P. Avenel, Willy Haas et le périodique Die literarische Welt (1995).

[Rudolf Kayser /

Andreas Kilcher (2nd ed.)]

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