(Pirmasens, 1886–1927, Sant' Abbondio, Ticino), after beginning a commercial career, studied philosophy at Munich, Heidelberg, and Basel universities and then became a theatrical producer. In Munich he was associated with F. Wedekind in the court theatre, the Kammerspiele. A pacifist, he emigrated to Switzerland in 1915 and in 1916 founded the Cabaret Voltaire (see Dadaismus). After the war he became a Roman Catholic convert. In his Klanggedichte and speech-song (Sprechgesang) he aimed at a distancing effect to language associated with war and the bourgeois society. In print he employed the technique of collage in the form of an arbitrary arrangement of different types (Karawane, 1917). His works include the plays Die Nase des Michelangelo (1911), Der Henker von Brescia (1914), and Nero (written 1914?, ed. F. L. Pelgen, 1986), the novel Flametti oder vom Dandysmus der Armen (1918, reissued 1973), and a biography of his friend H. Hesse (1927, reissued 1977), his well-known essay Zur Kritik der deutschen Intelligenz (1919, reissued 1980), and his diary, Die Flucht aus der Zeit. Tagebücher 1912–1921 (1927, reissued 1946). His poetry, Gesammelte Gedichte, ed. A. Schütt-Hennings, appeared in (1963; correspondence, Briefe 1911–1927, in (1957; Essays in (1981; Der Künstler und die Zeitkrankheit in 1984.
From The Oxford Companion to German Literature in Oxford Reference.