Emil Staiger

The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Staiger, Emil


Born Feb. 8, 1908, in Kreuzungen, Switzerland. Swiss literary scholar. Writes in German.

Staiger became a professor at the University of Zürich in 1943. With W. Kayser (1906–60; Federal Republic of Germany) he established the “school of interpretation,” which is related to the New Criticism. The school of interpretation views the literary work as being outside and independent of the social, historical, and biographical factors entering into its creation; it perceives the work as a specific phenomenon of human consciousness that can be understood by “direct impression” and by the interpretation of its individual aspects and components as a united whole. Staiger expounded his critical views in such works as Time As the Imagination of the Poet (1939) and The Art of Interpretation (1955).

Staiger also wrote on the classics of German literature, including the works of Geothe, and translated works of ancient Greek authors into German.


Musik und Dichtung, 2nd ed. Zürich-Freiburg, 1959.
Stilwandel. Zürich-Freiburg, 1963.
Grundbegriffe der Poetik, 8th ed. Zürich-Freiburg, 1968.


Starostin, B. A. “Staiger E.” In Kratkaia literaturnaia entsiklopediia, vol. 8. Moscow, 1975.
The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Indeed, the famous debate on that poem between Emil Staiger and Martin Heidegger haunts the footnotes of many contributions here, suggesting that these texts would in fact be integral to the subject of the volume.
Famous archetypes, constantly cited, were Seneca's Medea, who thus works herself up to murder her children, and Shakespeare's Lady Macbeth, who adjures the murdering ministers: 'Unsex me here!' The rhetoric of these 'rasende Weiber' (as Emil Staiger called them in a well-known essay) goes back to the Baroque, but while Baroque tragedy permits both men and women to rage, later dramatists made such anger into a female speciality.
One searches his bibliography in vain for Katharina Mommsen, Gunther Muller, Walter Muller-Seidel, Hans-Jurgen Schings, Hans Joachim Schrimpf, Friedrich Sengle, Emil Staiger, Erich Trunz, and Rolf Christian Zimmermann.