Manusya, Journal of Humanities

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Kurt Wais (1907-1995) would be 100 years old on 9 January 2007. He was Professor of Romance Philology and Comparative Literature at Tubingen University until his retirement in 1975. His immense erudition spanning several literatures and epochs equipped him well for pioneering work in Comparative Literature, of which he was the leading authority in Germany. Drawing on his "Nachlass" (private papers) now deposited with the renowned German Literature Archive in Marbach/Neckar, the author, a pupil of Kurt Wais, demonstrates how the precocious scholar, who had won international recognition at the age of 31 with his authoritative book on Stephane Mallarme, developed into a versatile researcher, a dedicated teacher and a trustworthy colleague. But this is far from a merely personal success story, for the achievements of Kurt Wais bear testimony to the strengths of German and European academic tradition. What Kurt Wais described as his "life's work", a monumental comparative study of Europe's early medieval epics, occupied him until his death, with only one volume published, while the remaining 9 volumes, though still in manuscript form, might provide intimations of Europe as a cohesive entity, predating the dreams of the architects of the EU by almost a thousand years.

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