Karl Vossler

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Karl Vossler
BirthplaceHohenheim, Württemberg, Germany
The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Vossler, Karl


Born Sept. 6, 1872, in Hohenheim, Germany; died May 18, 1949, in Munich. German philologist.

Vossler studied at the universities of Tubingen, Geneva, Strasbourg, Rome, and Heidelberg. He was a professor at the universities of Heidelberg (1902), Wurzburg (1909–10), and Munich (1911–37 and 1945–47) and rector of the University of Munich (1946). Vossler’s chief works dealt with the intellectual culture of the Romance-speaking peoples during the early Middle Ages, Renaissance, Enlightenment, and romantic period. He studied the Italian, French, and Spanish literatures and languages; late in life he studied the literatures of Portugal and South America.

As head of the idealist school of neolinguistics (areal linguistics), Vossler contrasted positivism and individualism as the two main approaches to an interpretation of the aesthetic theory of language and literature; he was influenced by the aesthetic views of B. Croce. Vossler believed that language had to be studied in relation to cultural history and that the sources of linguistic innovations were the creative initiative of the individual and individual artistic intuition. Vossler linked the study of language and literature to philosophy and cultural history. He presented his theories in Positivism and Idealism in Linguistics (1904) and Spirit and Culture in Language (1925). He was a member of many academies.


Sprache als Schöpfung und Entwicklung. Heidelberg, 1905.
Die Göttliche Komödie, 2nd ed., vols. 1–2. Heidelberg, 1925.
Frankreichs Kultur und Sprache, 2nd ed. Heidelberg, 1929.
Die romanische Kulturen und derdeutsche Geist. Stuttgart, 1948.
Poesie der Einsamkeit in Spanien, parts 1–3, 2nd ed. Munich, 1950.
In Russian translation:
Grammatika i istoriia iazyka. [Moscow, 1910.]
“Otnoshenie istorii iazyka k istorii literatury.” Logos, books 1–2, 1912–13.
“Grammaticheskie i psikhologicheskie formy v iazyke.” In the collection Problemy literaturnoi formy. Leningrad, 1928.


Botkin, S. M. “Obzor rabot K. Fosslera po romanskomu iazykoznaniiu.” Zhurnal Ministerstva narodnogo prosveshcheniia, new series, July 1915, part 58.
Zhirmunskii, V. M. “Foreword.” In Problemy literaturnoi formy. Leningrad, 1928.
Zvegintsev, V. A. Esteticheskii idealizm v iazykoznanii. Moscow, 1956.
Gamillscheg, E. “Karl Vossler.” In Portraits of Linguists: A Biographical Source Book for the History of Western Linguistics, 1746–1963, vol. 2. Bloomington, Ind.–London, 1966.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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The present article will show how, through those thinkers, cultural style has been made accessible not through an abstract sign system but through devices inspired by a hermeneutic tradition relying on the German word 'Art.' The idea that linguistics should consider the "spiritual" side of language is once again taken up in the twentieth century by the German romance philologist Karl Vossler through the concept of doxa.
Guillemin, Anna (2008), "The Style of Linguistics: Aby Warburg, Karl Vossler, and Hermann Osthoff," Journal of the History of Ideas 69(4): 605-626.
A traves de una relectura continua del ensayo de Croce Questa tabola rotonda e quadrata (1905), y apoyandose en Karl Vossler, propone que la gramatica no necesariamente debe involucrar un "contenido de verdad", sino una mera valencia empirica como "complejo de abstraccion y de arbitrios, utiles para la memoria" pero determinados culturalmente.
Perelmuter looks at the work of Mexican literary historians such as Manuel Toussaint, Ermilo Abreu Gomez, and Ezequiel Chavez, who worked in the 1920s and 1930s, as well as Karl Vossler's translation into German, Die Welt im Traum (1941).