Gustav Landauer and kindred spirits

21 December 2015 - 14:12

Missratene Söhne. Anarchismus und Sprachkritik im Fin de Siècle by Carolin Kosuch is a triple-biography of three befriended Jewish 'rebels' around the turn of the century, Gustav Landauer, Erich Mühsam and Fritz Mauthner.

These three men did not follow the social career that their respective fathers had set out for them. The first two 'missratene Söhne' - untranslatable, but 'rebellious' comes closest - became anarchist, Mauthner has become known as a socially critical philosopher and writer. The men knew each other from the coffee houses and the artists' colony Grünewald in Berlin.

That Berlin forms the background of three biographies, in which Carolin Kosuch pays a lot of attention to the Jewish background of her three protagonists. How did they grow up, perhaps the clue for their later socially critical attitude lay in their youth? How assimilated or traditionally Jewish were their families? Does their social contrariness have anything to do with the Jewish religion? In other words, what made them rebels?

Some of the answers to these research questions can sometimes be read in the autobiographical writings of Landauer, Mühsam and Mauthner.

The 'Hauptkorpus' for the research on Gustav Landauer led the writer to the IISH. Apart from Landauer she also consulted the archives of Fritz Brupbacher, Raphael Friedeberg en Max Nettlau.

IISH Collections | Bookblog | Carolin Kosuch - Photo by Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht