Strich, Fritz

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STRICH, FRITZ (1882–1963), German literary historian. Born in Koenigsberg, East Prussia, Strich studied at the University of Munich, where he became a professor in 1915. He was elected to the chair of modern German literature at the University of Berne in 1929. Not until his encounter with the art historian Heinrich Woelfflin did Strich find the teacher he sought. In 1916 Strich published a pioneering essay, applying Woelfflin's method and insight to German literature of the 17th century, defining the style of literary baroque.

Strich broke new ground with Deutsche Klassik und Romantik, oder Vollendung und Unendlichkeit: Ein Vergleich (1922, 19283). Whereas the history of literature had hitherto largely been a chronicle of works and writers, origins and influences, Strich clearly regarded it as an art with basic forms and possibilities of artistic expression, such as the "classical" search for perfection and permanence, or the "romantic" effort to capture the ever changing variety, impermanence, and infinitude of the world. For Strich these fundamental literary styles and categories always represent expressions of the human mind and soul; and the individual work of literature always exists in the larger context of historical time and of national and social culture. In an essay on *Kafka, Strich called on the Jewish writer to speak in the authentic voice of Jewish commitment. There could be no dissociation of art from life, a conviction clearly expressed in the titles of Strich's collected essays – Dichtung und Zivilisation (1928); Der Dichter und die Zeit (1947); and Kunst und Leben (1960). He also edited the works of *Heine, Schiller, and Wedekind.


Weltliteratur: Festgabe… Fritz Strich zum 70. Geburtstag (1952); S. Kaznelson (ed.), Juden im deutschen Kulturbereich (19623), 346ff.

[Ludwig W. Kahn]