About Karl Kraus and The Last Days of Mankind

Karl Kraus lived and wrote in Vienna in the fin-de-siècle milieu of writers, artists, journalists in a growing, ethnically diverse city of two million, with fifteen official languages and numerous cafés featuring journals, newspapers and topical discussion.

With independent wealth and a sharp critical eye Kraus self-published his own journal Die Fackel rather than write the main journals such as Neue Frei Presse.

This Paris Review article describes him and some other critical voices from Vienna: ‘Thomas Bernhard, Karl Kraus and other Vienna-hating Viennese’

He was born in 1874 in Gitschin, Bohemia to a wealthy assimilated Jewish family who moved to Vienna when he was three years old where he remained for the rest of his life.

Here is a link to a lecture at the Getty Research Centre about the play and Kraus himself by Marjorie Perloff: “The Mediated War: Karl Kraus’s docu-drama ‘The Last Days of Mankind”

Times Literary Supplement critical review of several representations of the play: Karl Kraus at War by Leo Lensing.

The Kraus archive is located at the Wienbibliothek im Rathaus, for which see http://www.wienbibliothek.at/ueber-uns/projekte/karl-kraus-archiv

Kraus-related sites in Vienna are available to see at http://www.karl-kraus.net/

The following website lists the English translations of Karl Kraus’s work: http://www.abitofpitch.com/ which are currently as follows:

In These Great Times. A Karl Kraus Reader. Trans. Zohn, H. The University of Chicago Press, 1990.

Half-Truths and One-And-A-Half-Truths. Trans. Zohn, H. The University of Chicago Press, 1990.

No Compromise: Selected Writings of Karl Kraus. Trans. various. Frederick Unger Publishing Co., 1977.

The Last Days of Mankind: A Tragedy in Five Acts. Trans. various. Frederick Unger Publishing Co., 1974.

Dicta and Contradicta. Trans. McVity, J. University of Illinois Press, 2001.

The Kraus Project. Trans. Franzen, J. Fourth Estate. 2013.

various writings, Trans. Daniels, P. Die Weltbühne in English Translation.

“The Demolished Literature” and other selected writings in Viennese Coffeehouse Wits (1890 – 1938). Trans. Segal, H. Purdue University Press, 1993.

short selection of writings in Anti-Freud: Karl Kraus’ Criticism of Psychoanalysis and Psychiatry. Trans. Szasz, T. Syacuse University Press, 1990.

short selection of writings in Karl Kraus and the Soul-doctors: A Pioneer Critic and His Criticism of Psychiatry and Psychoanalysis. Szasz, T. Routledge & Kegan Paul PLC, 1977.

The Last Days of Mankind. Trans. Russell, M.

In These Great Times: Selected Writings. Trans. Healy, P. November Editions, 2014.
The Last Days of Mankind. Trans. Bridgham, F. & Timms, E. Yale University Press, 2015.
The Last Days of Mankind. Trans. Healy, P. November Editions, 2016.

In terms of known performances in the UK Project 1568 has been investigating the RD McDonald version performed at Glasgow Citizens Theatre and at Edinburgh International Festival in 1983.  The reviews are available at Glasgow University library notifed here.  A radio play adaptation was performed on BBC Radio 3 in 1999, notified here.

Stage Designer Alfred Kunz designed the set for “Die letzte Nacht”, for the epilogue of Karl Kraus’ “Die letzten Tage der Menschheit”, which was first staged on the stage of the Neue Wiener Bühne, February 6th, 1923.  His images are those used on the home page.