Hermann Bahr  

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Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel
Kunstformen der Natur (1904) by Ernst Haeckel

Hermann Bahr (July 19, 1863 - January 15, 1934) was an Austrian writer, playwright, director, and critic. Bahr is credited with applying the label the Expressionism to literary works.



Born and raised in Linz, Bahr studied Philosophy, Law, Economics and Philology in Vienna, Czernowitz and Berlin. During a prolonged stay in Paris he discovered his interest in literature and art. He then worked as an art critic first in Berlin, then in Vienna.

From 1906-1907, he worked as a director with Max Reinhardt at the German Theater in Berlin, and starting in 1918 he was a Dramaturg with the Vienna Burgtheater. Later, he found work as a reader with the S. Fischer Verlag, a German publishing company, where he befriended Arno Holz.

Spokesman for the literary group Young Vienna, Bahr was an active member of the Austrian avant-garde, producing both criticism and Impressionist plays. Bahr's association with the coffeehouse literati made him one of the main targets of Karl Kraus's newspaper Die Fackel (The Torch) after Kraus's falling out with the group.

Bahr was the first critic to apply the label modernism to literary works, and was an early observer of the Expressionism movement. His theoretical papers were important in the definition of new literary categories. His 40 plays and around 10 novels never reached the quality of his theoretical work.

Selected Fiction


  • The New People (Die neuen Menschen - 1887)
  • The Mother (Die Mutter - 1891)
  • Das Tschaperl (1897)
  • Der Star (1899)
  • Wienerinnen (1900)
  • Der Krampus (1902)
  • Ringelspiel (1907)
  • The Concert (Das Konzert - 1909)
  • The Children (Die Kinder - 1911)
  • Das Prinzip (1912)
  • Der Querulant (1914)
  • The Master (Der Meister - 1914)

Short stories and novellas

  • The School of Love (Die gute Schule. Seelenstände - 1890)
  • Fin de siècle (1891)
  • Die Rahl (1908)
  • O Mensch (1910)
  • Österreich in Ewigkeit (1929)

Selected Nonfiction



  • Theater (1897)
  • Drut (1909)
  • Himmelfahrt (1916)
  • Die Rotte Korahs (1919)
  • Self-Portrait (Selbstbildnis - 1923), an autobiography

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