Kuh, Ephraim Moses

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KUH, EPHRAIM MOSES (1731–1790), German poet. After a traditional Jewish education, Kuh successfully resisted his father's efforts to prepare him for the rabbinate and left his native Breslau in 1763 to seek his fortune in Berlin with a wealthy relative, Veitel Ephraim, the banker of Frederick the Great. Kuh's interest in literature was stimulated by his acquaintance with Moses *Mendelssohn, Gotthold Ephraim *Lessing, and the Berlin rationalists. Having neglected his business activities and spent his money on books, Kuh spent the years 1768–70 traveling in Europe. He then returned to Breslau, where he suffered six years of mental illness. However, he recovered sufficiently to continue writing poetry. After his death, about 5,000 of his unpublished poems were turned over to his friend and fellow-poet, Karl Wilhelm Ramler, who published a selection, Hinterlassene Gedichte (2 vols., 1792), together with a biographical sketch by Moses Hirschel. Kuh's poetical works were strongly influenced by classical writers. He is the hero of Berthold *Auerbach's novel Dichter und Kaufmann (1839).


M. Kayserling, Der Dichter Ephraim Kuh (1864); H. Rhotest, E.M. Kuh (Ger., 1927).

[Sol Liptzin]