Arquivo para September 18th, 2023

A voice for peace

18 Sep

There were few writers and journalists who did not become involved in the mid-20th century in the ideological and nationalist appeals that Europe was making amid the weakening of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the growth of militaristic sentiments that led to war, Karl Kraus, a playwright and writer Austrian (they were born in 1874 in a village in Bohemia (today the Czech Republic), then part of the Austro-Hungarian Empire.

Unlike the journalism of his time that he criticized, those that judged seers like Raphael Schermann who was in evidence in Vienna and who criticized him, Karl Kraus’ criticism was directed at the political-ideological engagement of the journalists of his time, which he criticized since the vulgar language that they used even the moral decadence of their time that they mirrored.

Famous and known today for his book “Aforismos” (Arquipélago Editorial, 2010), which he defined as “Aphorism never coincides with the truth; it’s either a half truth or a truth and a half”, he had several works published recently in Portuguese, there were the releases in Portuguese of the works “The last days of humanity” by the Portuguese publisher Relógio d´água and more recently of texts from his newspaper “ Die Fackel” (The Torch or The Archote, as the Portuguese prefer) which were written during the First World War, which was one of the most prominent opponents.

There was an incomplete edition of The Last Days of Humanity, edited by Antígona in 2003, by its Portuguese translator Antônio Souza Ribeiro, recalls the young man who arrived in Vienna and had already written “Literature in Demolition” in 1897 and “A Crown for Zion” in 1898, as “In fact, what will be the distinctive mark of Kraus’s position in the Viennese literary field, defined by Edward Timms as a “combative isolation” is clearly outlined here” (pg. 96).

While the “media” of his time engage in ideological discourses of his time, his translator writes “… on the contrary, Kraus is laying, in a pioneering way, the foundations of what could today be called a critique of the media, in which constitutes one of the most strikingly topical dimensions of his work” (pg. 97).

Although lonely, Karl Kraus did not close himself off: “The reality is that, throughout his life, while facing irreducible hatred within the Austrian and German literary field, Kraus cultivated a very wide circle of relationships, which intersects with relevant intellectual and artistic circles and with several prominent names from the first decades of the century…” (pg. 97).

With the outbreak of war in August 1914, only one issue of the Magazine “Die Fakel” would appear in December 1914 with the 20-page text “In this great era”.

After publishing a new short text in February 1915, the magazine “…republished itself, in October 1915, with an extensive number of 168 pages, to establish itself as a space of violent rejection of the war policy in all its aspects” (p. 101).

In addition to his importance for the history of journalism, Karl Kraus brings great reflection to the present day.

RIBEIRO, Antônio Sousa. (2003) Os últimos dias da humanidade (The last days of humanity – reading manual), Portugal, Porto: Ed. Teatro Nacional de São João (Manual de Leitura Últimos Dias final.pdf (