Wolfgang Kayser

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Wolfgang Kayser (born December 24, 1906 in Berlin ; † January 23, 1960 in Göttingen ) was a German philologist and literary scholar .


Wolfgang Kayser received his doctorate in 1932 on the poetry of the baroque poet Harsdörffer and completed his habilitation in 1935 on the history of the German ballad . During the time of National Socialism , he was true to the line towards the National Socialists. In 1933 he joined the SA and in 1937 the NSDAP . In 1938 he became a private lecturer in Leipzig and in 1941 head of the German Cultural Institute in Lisbon , where he also held a lectureship in German studies at the University of Lisbon as an "extraordinary professor in the Reichsdienst" . At this time he was already working on his later groundbreaking textbook The Linguistic Work of Art , as demonstrated by a lecture given at the University of Coimbra in the summer of 1942 (published in 1944) and exemplary analyzes of texts from Portuguese literature in this main literary theoretical work.

Dismissed from service after 1945, he mostly worked as a freelance lecturer, author and translator. The linguistic work of art appeared in 1948 . An introduction to literary studies that had a strong influence on post-war German studies. In 1950 he received a professorship at the University of Göttingen , where he worked until his death in 1960. The work-immanent interpretation he represented was the defining method of German literary studies until the 1960s. By turning away from the politicized National Socialist German studies and turning to a European and interdisciplinary understanding of art literature, he also gained an international reputation. Since 1954 he was a member of the German Academy for Language and Poetry in Darmstadt . In 1956 he was elected a full member of the Göttingen Academy of Sciences .

Wolfgang Kayser unexpectedly suffered a heart attack at the age of 53 without any previous illness.


  • Sound painting at Harsdörffer (1932, 2nd edition 1962)
  • History of the German Ballad (Berlin 1936, 2nd edition 1943)
  • About the rhythm in German poems. In: Poetry and Volkstum . 39: 487-510 (1938).
  • Bourgeoisie and tribalism in Theodor Storm's short story poetry (1938)
  • Poems of the German Baroque (selection and epilogue, 1943), Insel-Bücherei 313/2 (largely destroyed in the war; reprint 1989)
  • O Problema dos Géneros Literários (1944, reprint of the German Institute of the University of Coimbra; translation from the Portuguese by Ursula Kayser with Orlando Grossegesse in literary theory at the end of? 50 years of Wolfgang Kayser's "Linguistic Artwork" . Tübingen / Basel 2001).
  • Small German verse school (1946, 25th edition 1995)
  • The linguistic work of art. An introduction to literary studies (Bern 1948, 20th edition 1992)
  • Origin and crisis of the modern novel (1954)
  • The grotesque. His creation in painting and poetry (1957)
  • Wilhelm Busch's grotesque humor (1958, lecture series by the Lower Saxony state government, issue 4, online )
  • The lecture tour. Studies on literature (1958)
  • The truth of the poets. Change of a Concept in German Literature (1959)
  • German literature in our time , ed. with Benno von Wiese (1959)
  • History of the German verse. Ten lectures for students from all faculties (1960)


Web links


  1. a b c Ernst Klee : The culture lexicon for the Third Reich. Who was what before and after 1945. S. Fischer, Frankfurt am Main 2007, ISBN 978-3-10-039326-5 , p. 298.
  2. Holger Krahnke: The members of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen 1751-2001 (= Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Philological-Historical Class. Volume 3, Vol. 246 = Treatises of the Academy of Sciences in Göttingen, Mathematical-Physical Class. Episode 3, vol. 50). Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, Göttingen 2001, ISBN 3-525-82516-1 , p. 129.
  3. ^ Die Zeit , January 29, 1960: Wolfgang Kayser
  4. Digitized online (archive.org)