Page 153 - Jewish Book Annual Volume 28

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R I C H A R D B E E R - HO FMA N N
On the 25th Anniversary of His Death
B
y
S
ol
L
ip t z in
A
single volume of 900 pages published in 1963 comprises the
complete works of Richard Beer-Hofmann who, together
with Arthur Schnitzler and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, formed
the central triad of
Young Vienna,
the literary movement dom-
inant in the Hapsburg capital at the turn of the century. About
this creative triad who excelled in poetry, drama and narrative
art, there gathered a wide circle of aesthetes whose Jewish mem-
bers included Theodor Herzl, Peter Altenberg, Felix Salten and
Stefan Zweig. The influence of this group extended far beyond
the capital of the Austro-Hungarian dual monarchy. In Prague
Rainer Maria Rilke and Max Brod came under their spell
and in Lemberg the Yiddish Galician Neoromanticists from
Shmuel Jacob Imber to Melech Ravitch were inspired by them.
Beer-Hofmann, striving for perfection in every line he penned,
was far less prolific than the other members of his circle, but
he was held in highest esteem by them. Schnitzler said of him:
“He is the most important among all of us. Even if I were
to devote myself to a work as long as he does, I could never
reach his height. There is hardly anyone else who is so radiant
a personality as he is.” In 1897 Hofmannsthal wrote to Beer-
Hofmann: “There is no one to whom I owe as much as to you.”
In 1930 Stefan Zweig said to me: “Each of us has been granted
some talent, but Beer-Hofmann has been granted more than tal-
ent; he possesses literary genius.”
Beer-Hofmann was born in Vienna on July 11, 1866. His
mother, married to a young lawyer Hermann Beer, died at
childbirth, and the infant was raised by her sister and husband
Alois Hofmann, who later adopted him. Hence his double fami-
ly name Beer-Hofmann. In 1890 he graduated from the Univer-
sity of Vienna as Doctor of Jurisprudence but never practiced
law. His inherited wealth enabled him to pursue his interest,
literature. His first published work,
Novellen,
appeared in 1893.
It consisted of the two novelettes
Das K ind
and
Camelias
and
was the only work he did not wish to include in the volume of
his complete works, because he felt that it did not measure up
to his standard of perfection.
A single poem,
Schlaflied fur Miriam
(1897), established his
early reputation. Hermann Bahr, Vienna’s most distinguished lit-
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