Hugo von Hofmannsthal: Ein Brief [The Letter of Lord Chandos]

(2267 words)

Long recognized as one of the defining texts of literary Modernism, Hofmannsthal’s “Ein Brief” (“The Letter of Lord Chandos”) remains a very provocative work. Richard Sheppard calls it the “archetypal modern statement” of the crisis of language that characterizes much of Modernist writing (Penguin anthology Modernism 1890-1930, 1976, p. 324). The text is a fictional letter, purportedly written by Phillip Lord Chandos, who in his younger years was a prolific writer, to the philosopher of science Francis Bacon. In it, the fictional Chandos tries to explain why he is no longer writing. Due to the fact that Hofmannsthal, who had gained prominence throughout the German-speaking world due mainly to his poetry, …

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Kovach, Thomas A.. "Ein Brief". The Literary Encyclopedia. First published 04 January 2014
[, accessed 26 September 2016.]