Erich Kahler and the Quest for a Human Absolute

Joseph Frank

in Responses to Modernity

Published by Fordham University Press

Published in print June 2012 | ISBN: 9780823239252
Published online September 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780823239290 | DOI:
Erich Kahler and the Quest for a Human Absolute

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Erich Kahler (1885–1970) belongs with some of the great names of the impressive German literary tradition destroyed by Adolf Hitler; and it is only in relation to this tradition that his work can be properly appreciated. What marks out this line of writers and thinkers is the universality of their ambitions, and their admirable ability to master the intellectual resources necessary to carry these ambitions through. All are inspired by a vision of the unity of human history. Kahler, who came to the United States as an exile from Hitler's Germany in 1938 and, after a distinguished career as a university professor and freelance intellectual, died in 1970, belonged to that great wave of German emigration provoked by Nazi barbarism which did so much to enrich American cultural life. One of his major works was Man the Measure (1944), which elicited words of admiration from Thomas Mann. Art occupied a major place in Kahler's thought.

Keywords: Erich Kahler; Adolf Hitler; Germany; human history; United States; Thomas Mann; Man the Measure; art

Chapter.  6881 words. 

Subjects: Literary Theory and Cultural Studies

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