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.
WORKSSprache 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.
REFERENCESBotkin, 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.
R. A. AGEEVA