Tuesday, June 16, 2015

Franz Xaver Kappus (17 May 1883 â€" 9 October 1966) was an Austrian military officer, journalist, editor and writer who wrote poetry, short-stories, novels and screenplays. Kappus is known chiefly as the military academy cadet who wrote to Austrian poet Rainer Maria Rilke (1875â€"1926) for advice in a series of letters from 1902 to 1908 that were assembled and published in the best-selling book Letters to a Young Poet (1929).


Franz Xaver Kappus

Franz Xaver Kappus was born on 17 May 1883 in Timișoara (also known as German: Temeschwar, Temeschburg or Temeswar, in Hungarian: Temesvár), in the Banat province of the Austro-Hungarian Empire. The Banat region (now divided between Hungary, Serbia and Romania) was populated with a large population of ethnic Germans known as Banat Swabians or Danube Swabians of which Kappus' ancestry is derived. As a 19-year old officer cadet at the Theresian Military Academy in Wiener Neustadt, Lower Austria, Kappus wrote to Rainer Maria Rilke after learning that as a young man, Rilke, the son of an Austrian army officer, had studied at the academy's lower school at Sankt Pölten in the 1890s. Kappus corresponded with Rilke, then a popular poet at the beginning of his career, in a series of letters from 1902 to 1908, in which he sought Rilke's advice regarding the quality of his poetry, and in deciding between a literary career or a career as an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army.

Aside from his role in writing to Rilke and later publishing these letters, Kappus is largely forgotten by history. Despite the hesitancy he expressed in his letters to Rilke about pursuing a military career, he continued his military studies and served for 15 years as an officer in the Austro-Hungarian Army. During the course of his life, he worked as an newspaper editor and journalist, writing poems, humorous sketches, short-stories, novels, and adapted several works (including his own) into screenplays for films in the 1930s. However, Kappus did not achieve lasting fame. After World War I, he was the editor of several newspapers, including Kappus Deutsche Wacht (trans. "Kappus' German Watch"), later known as Banater Tagblatt (trans. "Banat Daily"), and other newspapers Temeswarer Zeitung (trans. "Timisoara Newspaper"), and the Swabische Volkspresse (trans. "Swabian People's Press"). After World War II, he founded the Freie Demokratische Partei (trans. "Free Democratic Party") affiliated with ideology of classical liberalism in Berlin.

Kappus died on 9 October 1966 in Berlin, Germany at the age of 82.


Franz Xaver Kappus


  • 1918: Die lebenden Vierzehn (trans. "Fourteen Survivors")
  • 1921: Die Peitsche im Antlitz (trans. "The whip in the Face")
  • 1922: Der Rote Reiter (trans. "The Red Rider")
  • 1929: Briefe an einen jungen Dichter (trans. "Letters to a Young Poet")
  • 1929: Martina und der Tänzer (trans. "Martina and the Dancers")
  • 1935: Brautfahrt um Lena (trans. "Lena, spoken for")
  • 1941: Flammende Schatten (trans. "Blazing Shadows")
  • 1949: Flucht in die Liebe (trans. "Escape into Love")


  • 1923: Der Rote Reiter (trans. The Red Rider), from his novel
  • 1926: The Woman in Gold
  • 1926: Les voleurs de gloire
  • 1935: Der Rote Reiter (trans. The Red Rider), from his novel, directed by Rolf Randolf
  • 1944: The man to whom they stole the name

See also

  • German literature
  • Lists of authors
  • List of German-language authors
  • List of German-language poets



Further reading

  • Adel, Kurt. Franz Xaver Kappus (1883-1966): Österreicher Offizier under deutscher Schriftsteller (Peter Lang GmbH, 2006). ISBN 978-3631554012
  • * Totok, William. From Expressionism to Entertainment, NewsPad, November 14, 2006.

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