Authors: Hugo von Hofmannsthal

  • Last updated on December 10, 2021

Austrian poet and playwright

Author Works


Gestern, pb. 1891

Der Tor und der Tod, pb. 1894 (Death and the Fool, 1913)

Das kleine Welttheater, pb. 1897 (The Little Theater of the World, 1961)

Der weisse Fächer, pb. 1898 (The White Fan, 1909)

Die Frau im Fenster, pr., pb. 1898 (Madonna Dianora, 1916)

Der Abenteurer und die Sängerin, pr., pb. 1899 (The Adventurer and the Singer, 1917)

Die Hochzeit der Sobeide, pr., pb. 1899 (The Marriage of Sobeide, 1913)

Theater in Versen, pb. 1899

Der Kaiser und die Hexe, pb. 1900 (The Emperor and the Witch, 1961)

Elektra, pr. 1903 (Electra, 1908)

Das gerettete Venedig, pr., pb. 1905 (Venice Preserved, 1915)

Kleine Dramen, pb. 1906

Ödipus und die Sphinx, pr., pb. 1906 (Oedipus and the Sphinx, 1968)

Vorspiele, pb. 1908

Christinas Heimreise, pr. 1910 (Christina’s Journey Home, 1916)

König Ödipus, pr., pb. 1910

Alkestis, pb. 1911

Der Rosenkavalier, pr., pb. 1911 (libretto; The Cavalier of the Rose, 1912; also known as The Rose Bearer)

Jedermann, pr., pb. 1911 (Everyman, 1917)

Ariadne auf Naxos, pr., pb. 1912 (libretto; Ariadne on Naxos, 1922)

Der Bürger als Edelmann, pr., pb. 1918

Die Frau ohne Schatten, pr., pb. 1919 (libretto; The Woman Without a Shadow, 1957)

Dame Kobold, pr., pb. 1920

Der Schwierige, pb. 1920 (The Difficult Man, 1963)

Florindo, pr. 1921

Das Salzburger Grosse Welttheater, pr., pb. 1922 (The Salzburg Great Theatre of the World, 1958)

Der Unbestechliche, pr. 1923

Der Turm, pb. 1925 (The Tower, 1963)

Die ägyptische Helena, pr., pb. 1928 (libretto; Helen in Egypt, 1963)

Das Bergwerk zu Folun, pb. 1933 (The Mine at Falun, 1933)

Arabella, pr., pb. 1933 (libretto; English translation, 1955)

Dramatische Entwürfe, pb. 1936

Silvia im “Stern,” pb. 1959

Long Fiction:

Andreas: Oder, Die Vereinigten, 1932 (Andreas: Or, The United, 1936)

Short Fiction:

Reitergeschichte, 1899 (Cavalry Patrol, 1939)

Erlebnis des Marschalls von Bassompierre, 1900 (An Episode in the Life of the Marshal de Bassompierre, 1952)

Das Märchen 672: Nacht, und andere Erzählungen, 1905 (Tale of the Merchant’s Son and His Servants, 1969)

Lucidor, 1910 (English translation, 1922)

Drei Erzählungen, 1927

Das erzählerische Work, 1969


Ausgewählte Gedichte, 1903

Die gesammelten Gedichte, 1907 (The Lyrical Poems of Hugo von Hofmannsthal, 1918)

Loris, 1930

Nachlese der Gedichte, 1934

Gedichte und lyrische Dramen, 1946 (Poems and Verse Plays, 1961)


Gespräch über Gedichte, 1904

Unterhaltungen über literarische Gegenstände, 1904

Die Briefe des Zurückgekehrten, 1907

Der Dichter und diese Zeit, 1907 (The Poet and His Time, 1955)

Wege und die Begegnungen, 1913

Reden und Aufsätze, 1921

Buch der Freunde, 1922 (The Book of Friends, 1952)

Augenblicke in Griechenland, 1924 (Moments in Greece, 1952)

Früheste Prosastücke, 1926

Richard Strauss und Hugo von Hofmannsthal: Briefwechsel, 1926 (Correspondence of Richard Strauss and Hugo von Hofmannsthal, 1927)

Ad me ipsum, 1930

Loris: Die Prosa des jungen Hugo von Hofmannsthal, 1930

Die Berührung der Sphären, 1931

Festspiele in Salzburg, 1938

Briefwechsel zwischen George und Hofmannsthal, 1938 (letters)

Selected Prose, 1952

Selected Essays, 1955

Edited Texts:

Deutsche Erzähler, 1912 (4 volumes)

Die österreichische Bibliothek, 1915-1917 (26 volumes)

Deutsches Epigramme, 1923 (2 volumes)

Schillers Selbstcharakteristik, 1926


Gesammelte Werke in Einzelausgaben, 1945-1959 (15 volumes)

Selected Writings of Hugo von Hofmannsthal, 1952-1963 (3 volumes)

Hofmannsthal: Gesammelte Werke, 1979 (10 volumes)


Hugo von Hofmannsthal (HOHF-mahn-stahl) was subject to a multitude of influences. His aristocratic parentage included Jewish, German, and Italian elements. In addition, he was exposed to the stimulating, multifaceted Viennese culture, which was showing signs of an era on the wane. Sigmund Freud, Carl Jung, and Alfred Adler made Vienna a center of revolutionary discoveries about human motivations. Vienna coffeehouses were crowded with intellectuals from Munich, Berlin, Prague, and Rome. Hofmannsthal absorbed much from the continuous stream of new ideas, but his aristocratic and Roman Catholic heritage prevented him from becoming a mere innovator.{$I[AN]9810000520}{$I[A]Hofmannsthal, Hugo von}{$I[geo]AUSTRIA;Hofmannsthal, Hugo von}{$I[tim]1874;Hofmannsthal, Hugo von}

Hugo von Hofmannsthal

As a student he was regarded as a wunderkind. Because school regulations prohibited students from publishing, he started his literary career writing under the pen name of Loris. A Viennese publisher who printed some of these early works was speechless when he learned that Loris was a sixteen-year-old boy. When Arthur Schnitzler heard Hofmannsthal recite one of his verse plays, the older, established writer recognized his talent and confided to his friend Stefan Zweig: “Someone who starts like this at sixteen, must become a brother of Goethe and Shakespeare.”

Soon Hofmannsthal was a well-respected writer of the coffeehouse elite. There he met the poet Stefan George, who published the important “Blätter für die Kunst.” Hofmannsthal admired George’s priestly ideas about poetry, for George demanded from his followers a strict “art for art’s sake” concept, but Hofmannsthal was preoccupied with the problems of his environment and with his efforts to translate the heritage of the nineteenth century for the twentieth. He studied law to follow the profession of his father, and in 1892 he received his law degree. During the next year he completed his obligatory military service in the Austrian army. Upon his return he resumed study at the university in the field of philology. Married, he never accepted a position but devoted himself exclusively to writing and to travels in Italy, France, Greece, and North Africa.

His attempt to absorb all available knowledge without abandoning his conservative ideas led to the most pronounced crisis in his life: the publication of the autobiographical Chandos letter, in which he reveals that he is afraid his analytical mind will paralyze his creative abilities. He claims that a minute examination of all things makes it impossible to express with certitude an opinion on anything, and that certain words like “spirit, ” “soul, ” or “body” cause him physical discomfort. He also expresses the fear that he can no longer speak coherently. However, Hofmannsthal overcame his spiritual crisis, and after that he turned from lyric poetry to dramatic verse plays, large parts of which contain passages of lyrical quality. When Richard Strauss asked Hofmannsthal to write librettos, a fruitful collaboration began between a musician who was trying to find transitional musical expressions and a poet who was attempting to do the same in literature. A number of operas resulted, among them The Cavalier of the Rose and The Woman Without a Shadow.

BibliographyBangerter, Lowell A. Hugo von Hofmannsthal. New York: F. Ungar, 1977. A critical analysis of selected works by Hofmannsthal. Includes an index and a bibliography.Beniston, Judith. Welttheater: Hofmannsthal, Richard von Kralik, and the Revival of Catholic Drama in Austria, 1890-1934. Leeds, England: W. S. Maney, 1998. This study of Catholic drama in Austria compares and contrasts the works of Hofmannsthal and Richard von Kralik. Bibliography and index.Bennett, Benjamin. Hugo von Hofmannsthal: The Theaters of Consciousness. New York: Cambridge University Press, 1988. A critical analysis and interpretation of Hofmannsthal’s literary works. Bibliography and index.Broch, Hermann and Michael P. Steinberg, trans. Hugo von Hofmannsthal and His Time: The European Imagination, 1860-1920. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1984.Del Caro, Adrian. Hugo von Hofmannsthal: Poets and the Language of Life. Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1993. Del Caro argues that Hofmannsthal was an early opponent of aestheticism and was an heir of Friedrich Nietzsche in his search for a legitimate source for values. Includes bibliographical references and index.Hammelmann, Hanns A. Hugo von Hofmannsthal. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1957. A short introductory biography of Hofmannsthal. Includes bibliographic references.Hofmannsthal, Hugo von. The Whole Difference: Selected Writings of Hugo von Hofmannsthal. Edited by J. D. McClatchy. Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University, 2008. This selection contains his most significant works and includes essays, poems, short fiction, and plays. The range of works presented gives readers a sense of Hofmannsthal’s diversity. Includes a useful introduction.Joyce, Douglas A. Hugo von Hofmannsthal’s “Der Schwierige”: A Fifty-Year Theater History. Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1993. This study examines the stage history of Hofmannsthal’s The Difficult Man. Bibliography.Kovach, Thomas A. Hofmannsthal and Symbolism: Art and Life in the Work of a Modern Poet. New York: P. Lang, 1985. A biographical and critical study of Hofmannsthal’s life and work. Includes bibliographic references and an index.Michael, Nancy C. Elektra and Her Sisters: Three Female Characters in Schnitzler, Freud, and Hofmannsthal. New York: Peter Lang, 2001. This study examines the role of Elektra and other women characters in Hofmannsthal’s Electra and in the writings of Arthur Schnitzler and Sigmund Freud. Bibliography and index.Vilain, Robert. The Poetry of Hugo von Hofmannsthal and French Symbolism. New York: Oxford University Press, 2000. Vilain suggests that Hofmannsthal’s early interest in the works of the French Symbolists had an inhibiting effect on his own poetry. Includes bibliographical references and indexes.Yates, W. E. Schnitzler, Hofmannsthal, and the Austrian Theatre. New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1992. An examination of the Austrian theater in the early twentieth century, with emphasis on Hofmannsthal and Arthur Schnitzler.
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