Viktor von DIRSZTAY - Oskar KOKOSCHKALob des hohen Verstandes [= In Praise of Great Intellect]. Ein Umriss zur Morphologie des Menschen nebst Anmerkungen und einer Einführung [= A Definition of the Morphology of Man together with Annotations and an Introduction]. Mit 6 lithographien und einer kleiner Titlevignette von Oskar Kokoschka.
Leipzig, Kurt Wolff Verlag, 1917.
Folio, publisher’s paper boards printed in red with original illustration by Kokoschka (repeated from title-page). 27pp., (6)pp. Complete.
Title-vignette and 6 original lithographs by Oskar Kokoschka (1886-1980).
Fine illustration by the foremost Austrian Expressionist painter and graphic artist.
The Hungarian writer Viktor von Dirsztay (1884-1935) was acquainted with many Expressionist artists and writers of his time, including Karl Kraus, Oskar Kokoschka, Herwarth Walden, Walter Hasenclever, Hermann Broch and Arthur Schnitzler. Noted for his famous wit and Bohemian lifestyle, he wrote several works all illustrated by his friend Kokoschka, who painted his portrait in 1911. Dirsztay suffered from depression caused by a skin disorder and underwent several phases of analysis with Freud between 1910 and 1920. In his autobiography, Kokoschka described his friend’s “complicated character” and emotional turmoil. He believed that Dirsztay felt disgust for his Hungarian family and their tasteless nouveau riche manners, and that this shame manifested itself in a skin disease “that even Freud could not heal him [of]”, which caused Dirsztay to constantly itch his skin. Playing the role of an amateur psychoanalyst, Kokoschka believed Dirsztay suffered from grand, romantic fantasies (Weltschmertz) and saw his character as being similar to a melodramatic clown, trapped in his role. In his portrait, he portrayed him as desperately trying to maintain the appearance of a grand and aristocratic figure through his florid, theatrical hand gestures. Twenty-four years after the portrait was finished, the writer committed suicide.