Gustav Landauer : biography
Gustav Landauer (7 April 1870 – 2 May 1919) was one of the leading theorists on anarchism in Germany in the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century. He was an advocate of social anarchism and an avowed pacifist. Landauer is also known for his study and translations of William Shakespeare's works into German. One of his grandchildren, with wife and author Hedwig Lachmann, is Mike Nichols, the American television, stage and film director, writer, and producer.
Life and career
Gustav Landauer was the second child of Jewish parents Rosa (Neuberger) and Herman Landauer,Faces of America: How 12 Extraordinary People Discovered Their Pasts, by Henry Louis Gates, Jr., 2010, p. 10 a shoe shop owner in Karlsruhe in the Grand Duchy of Baden, where he went through school. He was educated in philosophy, German studies and art history at Heidelberg, Strasbourg, and Berlin. After breaking off his studies in 1893, he worked as a freelance journalist and public speaker.
His later works show the lasting influence of Johann Wolfgang von Goethe and Leo Tolstoy but he also felt attracted to the philosophy of Johann Gottlieb Fichte and the French mutualist anarchism of Pierre-Joseph Proudhon and the socialist anarchism theories of Mikhail Bakunin and especially the communist anarchism of Peter Kropotkin.
His second wife, Hedwig Lachmann, was an accomplished translator, and they worked together to translate various works into German, including those of British playwright Oscar Wilde, including The Picture of Dorian Gray, and the American poet Walt Whitman.
In the spring of 1889 in Berlin, Landauer met his sponsor and long-time friend, the author and philosopher Fritz Mauthner for the first time. In April 1891 he joined the Free Volksbühne Berlin and declared his support of the "Friedrichshagen Poet Circle" (Friedrichshagener Dichterkreis) for Naturalist literature.
In February 1892 Landauer became a member of the Association of Independent Socialists (Verein Unabhängiger Sozialisten) and of a group of publishers for their mouthpiece "Socialist Organ of the Independent Socialists" (Sozialistisches Organ der unabhängigen Sozialisten). In this paper he wrote a number of articles about art, but also critical remarks about political issues as well as on the economic views of Karl Marx and Eugen Dühring.
Together with friends from the literature group "The Young" (Die Jungen), who also worked with the Association of Independent Socialists, he founded the "New Free Volksbühne" (Neue Freie Volksbühne).
At the end of 1892 Landauer married the seamstress Margarethe Leuschner.
In July 1893 the Association of Independent Socialists, in which Landauer had become the leading member of its anarchist wing, split up. In the same month he ended his cooperation with the magazine "Socialist" (Sozialist) of which the last issue appeared in January 1895.
At the "International Convention of Socialist Workers" of the II. Socialist International in August 1893 in Zurich, Landauer, as a delegate for the Berlin anarchists, stood for an "anarchist socialism". Against an anarchist minority the convention with 411 delegates from 20 countries passed a resolution in favour of participation in elections and political action in parliaments. The anarchists were excluded from the II. Socialist International.
Landauer was arrested for "incitement to civil disobedience" in October 1893, and sentenced 2 months in prison. In December the sentence was extended to 9 months, which Landauer served in the prison of Sorau (today Żary).
After Landauer had been unable to establish a secure livelihood in Switzerland in 1895 he returned to Berlin where he lived very modestly in a circle of artists, literati, people from theatres and critics. Between 1895 and 1899 he published another magazine titled "Socialist-Anarchist Monthly" (Sozialist – Anarchistische Monatszeitschrift).
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