Alfred Lichtenstein (writer)

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Alfred Lichtenstein
Alfred Lichtenstein 1914.jpg
Alfred Lichtenstein in 1914
Born (1889-08-23)23 August 1889
Died 25 September 1914(1914-09-25) (aged 25)
near Vermandovillers, Somme, France
Occupation Writer
Citizenship German
Alma mater University of Berlin, University of Erlangen-Nuremberg (law)
Literary movement Expressionism
Notable works Die Dämmerung (Twilight, poem, 1911)[1]

Alfred Lichtenstein (* 23 August 1889 in Berlin-Wilmersdorf; † 25 September 1914 near Vermandovillers, Somme, France) was a German expressionist writer.

Lichtenstein grew up in Berlin as the son of a manufacturer. He studied law in Erlangen. His was first noticed after publishing poems and short stories in a grotesque style, which invited comparison with a friend of his, Jakob van Hoddis.

Indeed, there were calims of imitation: while Hoddis created the style, Lichtenstein has enlarged it, it was said. Lichtenstein played a little around with this reputation by writing a short story, called "The Winner", which describes in a scurillous way the random friendship of two young man, wherein one falls victim to the other. By using false names he often made fun of real people from the Berlin literary scene, including himself as Kuno Kohn, a silent shy boy; in "The winner" a virile van Hoddis kills Kuno Kohn at the end of the story.

Lichtenstein admired the style of the French writer Alfred Jarry not only in his ironic writings, like him he rode his bicycle through the town. However he was not to grow old get old: in 1914 he fell at the front in World War I.

Der einzige Trost ist: traurig sein. Wenn die Traurigkeit in Verzweiflung ausartet, soll man grotesk werden. Man soll spaßeshalber weiter leben. Soll versuchen, in der Erkenntnis, dass das Dasein aus lauter brutalen, hundsgemeinen Scherzen besteht, Erhebung zu finden.

The only solace: be sad! If sadness becomes despair: be grotesque! Be a clown, trying to find one's amusement by recognizing that existence consists of sheer brutal and shabby strokes.

— A. Lichtenstein


  1. ^ See respective article in German Wikipedia.

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