The Louvre Circle

Café Louvre
The Café Louvre on Narodní Třída, Prague

The Louvre Circle (Louvrezirkel) is one of the many groups of intellectuals and writers that regularly gathered in the grand coffee houses of Prague during the early decades of the 20th Century. The Circle takes its name from the Café Louvre, the venue where its members met approximately once every two weeks between 1902 and 1907. The Louvre Circle was made up mainly by disciples of the Austrian philosopher and psychologist Franz Brentano, along with Max Brod and Franz Kafka.

With the exception of Kafka and Brod, the members of the Louvre Circle are not very well-known. This is mostly due to the fact that much of their work is confined to technical contributions in academic fields such as linguistics, aesthetics or epistemology. Many of the Circle’s members however also led dramatic lives that were woven in the political fabric of their time: Berta Fanta was a leading voice for the emancipation of women in Czechoslovakia; Emil Utitz was one of the rare philosophers to survive a concentration camp (Terezin) and to write about that experience; and Hugo Bergmann, who emigrated to Palestine in 1920, was a founder of Brit Shalom, an early movement promoting peace between Jews and Arabs.

One can also add that the significance and interest of the Louvre Circle goes far beyond the scholarly debates of the School of Brentano. Informally embedded at the heart of Prague’s intellectual life, it provided crucial connections between circles such as Kafka’s  famous Prager Kreis, Berta Fanta’s Fantakreis (attended by Rudolf Steiner and Albert Einstein) or the later Cercle philosophique de Prague, in which Jan Patočka took part.

 


Franz BrentanoThe School of Brentano

With the exception of Kafka and Brod, the members of the Louvre Circle are not very well-known. This is of course unsurprising given that much of their work is confined to technical contributions in academic fields such as linguistics, aesthetics or epistemology. Many of the Circle’s members however also led fascinating, dramatic lives that were woven in the political fabric of their time: Berta Fanta was a leading voice for the emancipation of women in Czechoslovakia; Emil Utitz was one of the rare.

 


Kafka1906_croppedFranz Kafka

With the exception of Kafka and Brod, the members of the Louvre Circle are not very well-known. This is of course unsurprising given that much of their work is confined to technical contributions in academic fields such as linguistics, aesthetics or epistemology. Many of the Circle’s members however also led fascinating, dramatic lives that were woven in the political fabric of their time: Berta Fanta was a leading voice for the emancipation of women in Czechoslovakia; Emil Utitz was one of the rare.