b. Feb. 11, 1869, Elberfeld, Germany
German poet, short-story writer, playwright, and novelist of the early 20th century.
Of Jewish parentage, Schüler settled in Berlin after her marriage to the physician Berthold Lasker in 1894 (divorced 1903). In Berlin she frequented avant-garde literary circles, and her lyric poems and short stories began appearing in periodicals. Her second marriage (1901-11) was to Herwarth Walden, the editor of a leading Expressionist journal. Her first book, a poetry collection entitled Styx (1902), was followed by Meine Wunder (1911; "My Miracles"), Hebräische Balladen (1913; "Hebrew Ballads"), and several other volumes of lyric poetry. Her other important works are the play Die Wupper (1909), the autobiographical novel Mein Herz (1912; "My Heart"), and the short stories collected in Der Prinz von Theben (1914; "The Prince of Thebes") and Der Wunderrabbiner von Barcelona (1921; "The Wonder Rabbi of Barcelona"). She emigrated to Switzerland in 1933 after the Nazis came to power in Germany, and in 1940 she resettled in Jerusalem in Palestine. She had always led an eccentric and unpredictable life, and she spent her last years in poverty.
Lasker-Schüler's poems exploit a rich vein of fantasy and symbolism and alternate between pathos and ecstasy in their intensely personal evocation of her childhood and parents, romantic passion, art, religion, and other themes. Many of her short stories reinterpret Arabian nights tales in a mode of modern fantasy that is rich with visual images. Though rich in atmosphere and symbolism, her stories tend to have a weak narrative focus and little or no plot. Lasker-Schüler's reputation as an important German lyric poet of the early 20th century is assured, however.
"Lasker-Schüler, Else" Encyclopædia Britannica Online.