Poems Without Frontiers

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Max Dauthendey 1867- 1918

Dauthendey was born in Würzburg as the second son in the second marriage of a successful German born photographer. His father had formerly established his studio in St Petersburg but his first wife and two of his daughters had died in quick succession. Dauthendey's mother died of a lung condition, however, when he was 6 yrs. old.

Dauthendey passed the examination for a reduced length of voluntary military service but he was set upon a career as an artist and writer rather than on assisting his authoritarian father in the practicalities of the business in which he was a reluctant entrant; but he began his writing career whilst employed there. He served a three month apprenticeship in lithography in Geneva and spent six months with his Russian relations in St Petersburg. He then became acquainted with Arnold Villinger und Siegfried Löwenthal with whom, in 1891, he sought convalescence after a breakdown brought about by dislike of his uncongenial situation.

He moved, penniless, to Berlin but his father granted him a small income that sustained a modest lifestyle amongst the literati of the city; but his early publications met with little success. He sought unwelcome and rejected contact with Löwenthal in a visit to Brieg that led to a further breakdown.

Dauthendey met his future wife, Annie Johanson, in Sweden and they lived in Paris after their marriage in 1896. Following a modest inheritance upon the death of his father shortly afterwards, the couple travelled to Sicily and, in the following year, to Mexico in search of a bucolic existence but were unable to settle. Returning to Paris, they eked out a precarious existence with the help of friends. Dauthendey, nonetheless, set out on a six month world tour which was influential in his achieving writing success upon his return. In 1912, he built an expensive house upon a whim but was compelled to sell it soon afterwards moving again to Berlin. He undertook a further world tour but was interned at the outbreak of WW1 in Java where he died of Malaria.

Dauthendey excelled in Impressionism but was later dismissed by the Nazi regime as egotistic and lacking German orientation.