Kayser, Rudolf

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KAYSER, RUDOLF (1889–1964), German author and literary journalist. After studying in Berlin, Munich, and Wuerzburg, Kayser was for several years a teacher in Berlin. In 1919 he joined the editorial staff of the S. Fischer publishing house and became editor in chief of the literary periodical Die Neue Rundschau in 1924. Kayser was dismissed from these posts by the Nazis in 1933, settled in the U.S. two years later, and held the chair of German and European literatures at Brandeis University from 1951 to 1957. His Jewish interests found expression in the essays and reviews that he contributed to Jewish periodicals, which included the Neue Juedische Monatshefte, Der Jude, and Historia Judaica, and in books such as Moses Tod. Legende (1921), Spinoza, Bildnis eines geistigen Helden (1932), and The Life and Time of Jehuda Halevi (1949). His biographical studies also include Stendhal, oder das Leben eines Egotisten (1928), and Kant (1934). In his biographies he was less interested in discovering new facts about his subjects than in revealing their mental outlook and their Weltanschauung. He was especially influential in pre-Nazi Germany, discovering and encouraging literary talent not only through Verkuendigung (1921), his anthology of young lyricists, but also as editor of the Neue Rundschau, one of the most authoritative literary organs of the era.


Kuerschner, in: Literatur-Kalender (1931), s.v.add. bibliography: P. de Mendelssohn, S. Fischer und sein Verlag (1970); T.S. Hansen, "Rudolf Kayser," in: Deutschsprachige Exilliteratur seit 1933, J.M. Spalek and J.P. Strelka (eds.), 2 (1989), 421–32; C. Foucart, "André Gide, Rudolf Kayser et Die Neue Rundschau," in: Bulletin des Amis d'André Gide, 31/37 (2003), 67–79.

[Sol Liptzin]