Holitscher, Arthur

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HOLITSCHER, ARTHUR (1869–1941), German novelist and essayist. Born in Budapest, Holitscher worked as a bank clerk for six years, before fleeing to Paris in 1895, where his literary career took off. After the publication of his symbolist novel Weisse Liebe, ein Roman aus dem Quartier in the same year, Holitscher was engaged by Albert Langen as an editor for the satirical weekly magazine Simplicissimus and moved to Munich and eventually Berlin, where he made his home in 1910. While his dramatic ambitions were frustrated – his play Der Golem (1908), in which he reworked the famous legend of the miracle-worker R. *Judah Loew b. Bezalel of Prague, turned out to be a failure – the genre that finally earned him his reputation was the travelogue, beginning with his greatest success Amerikaheute und morgen (1910), which had considerable influence not least of all on Franz *Kafka. Further voyages led Holitscher several times to early Soviet Russia and twice to Palestine. His account Reise durch das juedische Palaestina (1922) is an important record of early Zionist achievements and reveals the author's admiration for the kibbutz system. Throughout all his works, Holitscher kept a focus on the correlation between cultural, economical, and social conditions, taking the standpoint of a revolutionary socialist. After Hitler's takeover, he left Berlin and settled in Geneva, where he died in October 1941. Accounts of his life are to be found in his autobiographical works Lebensgeschichte eines Rebellen (1924) and Mein Leben in dieser Zeit (1928).

add. bibliography:

M. Chobot, "Arthur Holitscher (1869–1941)," in: Literatur und Kritik (2004), 99–110; M. Bruchmann, Arthur Holitscher. Ein Dichter zwischen Literatur und Politik (1972).

[Rudolf Kayser /

Philipp Theisohn (2nd ed.)]