Volume 16, Issue 2, Autumn 2011
The Significance of Spinoza and His Philosophy for the Life and Poetry of the German-Jewish Poetess Rose Ausländer [Spinoza und Seine Philosophie im Schaffen der Deutschsprachigen Dichterin Rose Ausländer]
The German-Jewish writer and poetess, Rose Ausländer (1901-1988), who came from Chernivtsi (Czernowitz), capital of Bukovina, one of the former
provinces of the Hapsburg Empire, is one of the most+ highly acclaimed lyric poets to have written in German in the 20th century. Throughout her whole life she
was an adherent of the philosophy of Spinoza, first becoming acquainted with it in the so-called “ethics seminar” of the secondary-school teacher Friedrich Kettner. In the wake of the First World War the youth of Chernivtsi were in need of new sources of intellectual stimulation, so he set out to introduce them to the philosophy of Spinoza, as well as to that of Constantin Brunner, a contemporary German philosopher influenced by him.
Rose Ausländer remained a follower of Spinoza right up to the end of her life. This is confirmed by her two very different poems of the same name, “Spinoza”
– the first composed before 1939, the second in 1979 – as well as by her many explorations of topics drawn from his ethics, ranging from her very first printed
poem, “Amor Dei”, up to her lyrics written in old age, in the 1970s and 1980s. In this short paper I will attempt to chart the course of, and analyze, her interest in
Spinoza´s philosophical system and life.