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Born Sept. 11, 1873, in Velké Pavlovice, Moravia; died Apr. 1, 1959, in Sierre, Switzerland. Austrian writer and idealist philosopher.
Kassner studied philosophy and history in Vienna and Berlin. Between 1897 and 1913 he traveled through Europe, North Africa, India, and Russia. After that he lived mainly in Vienna (in 1938 the Nazis prohibited the publication of his works), moving to Switzerland in 1946. He was a friend of R. M. Rilke and influenced his work.
Kassner’s world view derived from the panaesthetic outlook of German romanticism and was in many ways similar to the ideas and conceptions of the irrationalist Lebensphilosophie. He advanced the principles of a universal “physiognomy”—an intuitive interpretation of forms of life and of culture apart from any system of scientific foundation. Kassner held that in the modern world physiognomy had supplanted traditional metaphysics and that the unity of the world, as perceived through physiognomy, was revealed through diverse symbolic juxtapositions and comparisons. Kassner translated into German works from classical and European literatures, including works by A. S. Pushkin, N. V. Gogol, and L. N. Tolstoy.
WORKSSämtliche Werke, vols. 1—. Düsseldorf-Cologne, 1969—.
REFERENCESchmidt, M. Autobiographie und Physiognomik. Munich, 1970. (Dissertation.)
IU. N. POPOV