Blumenthal was educated at the gymnasium and the university of his native town, and at the university at Leipzig, where he received the degree of doctor of philosophy in 1872. After having been editor of the Deutsche Dichterhalle in Leipzig, he founded in 1873 the Neue Monatshefte für Dichtkunst und Kritik. In 1875 Blumenthal moved to Berlin, where he became theatrical critic of the Berliner Tageblatt, holding this position until 1887, when he opened the Lessing Theater, of which he was director till 1898. From 1894 to 1895 he was also director of the Berliner Theater. From 1898 he was engaged exclusively in literary work.
Blumenthal was well known as a critic and playwright. His critiques in the feuilletons of the newspapers sparkle with humour, at the same time doing justice to authors and actors. Because of their sharpness he was sometimes called "bloody Oscar". His plays have had merited success, and many of them were well received at the leading German theaters. Together with Gustav Kadelburg he wrote several comedies like the famous Im weissen Rössl. As a researcher in literature he became famous for his edition of the works of Christian Dietrich Grabbe. He also was successful a theatrical manager.
Blumenthal is also known for his humorous short poems, for example:
Das ist ein hässliches Gebrechen,
Wenn Menschen wie die Bücher sprechen.
Doch reich und fruchtbar sind für jeden
Die Bücher, die wie Menschen reden.
(It is a terrible flaw
When people speak like books,
But good and useful for everyone
Are books that speak like people).
Blumenthal is the author of many plays and novels, among which may be mentioned:
- Allerhand Ungezogenheiten, Leipzig, 1874, 5th ed., 1877;
- Für alle Wagen und Menschenklassen, ib. 1875;
- Bummelbriefe, Danzig, 1880;
- and the comedies Der Probepfeil, 1882;
- Die grosse Glocke, 1887;
- Der schwarze Schleier 1887;
- Der Zaungast, 1889;
- Grossstadtluft, 1891;
- Heute und Gestern, 1892;
- Hans Huckebein, 1897;
- Die strengen Herren, 1900;
last five together with G. Kadelburg;
- Im Weissen Rössl, 1898 (famous for Ralph Benatzky)
- Merkzettel, 1898;
- Matthias Gollinger, with M. Bernstein, 1898;
- Verbotene Stücke, 1900;
- Gesammelte Epigramme, 1890
- He also edited Grabbes Werke und handschriftlicher Nachlass, ib. 1878.
- This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Isidore Singer & Frederick T. Haneman (1901–1906). "Blumenthal, Oskar". Jewish Encyclopedia.
- "Blumenthal, Oskar". New International Encyclopedia. 1905.
- Oscar Blumenthal in the German National Library catalogue
- "Blumenthal, Oskar". Encyclopedia Americana. 1920.
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