Wolfenstein, Alfred

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WOLFENSTEIN, ALFRED

WOLFENSTEIN, ALFRED (1888–1945), German poet, playwright, and translator. Born in Halle an der Saale, Wolfenstein qualified as a lawyer but lived as a freelance writer in Berlin and Munich until he emigrated to Prague after the Nazis came to power. In 1938 he fled to Paris and, after the German occupation, wandered through France, eventually returning to the capital under an assumed name. The liberation found him seriously ill, and he committed suicide in a hospital. Wolfenstein was an expressionist poet with no overt political or social outlook. He always emphasized the loneliness of the artist but confessed his Jewishness in the essay Juedisches Wesen und neue Dichtung (1922).

His verse collections include Die gottlosen Jahre (1914), Die Freundschaft. Neue Gedichte (1917), and Menschlicher Kaempfer (1919). He also published lyrical dramas and a collection of 30 stories, Die gefaehrlichen Engel (1936). His other works include a prizewinning biographical study of the French poet Rimbaud (1930) and various translations from French and English. He edited two volumes of the poetry annual Die Erhebung (1919, 1920) and an anthology of world poetry, Stimmen der Voelker (1938).

bibliography:

iii. Mumm, Alfred Wolfenstein. Eine Einfuehrung in sein Werk und eine Auswahl (1955).

[Rudolf Kayser]