KARPELES, GUSTAV (Gershon; 1848–1909), literary historian. Karpeles, who was born in Einwanowitz, Moravia, devoted himself to literary research in German and Jewish literature. One of his first studies was a biographical sketch, published anonymously, of Azriel *Hildesheimer (1870). In 1870 he became editor of the weekly Juedische Presse, founded by the latter, and at the same time of the German literary journal Auf der Hoehe. Karpeles edited the literary supplement of the Breslauer Zeitung and from 1878 to 1883 the influential Westermanns Monatshefte. In 1890 he became editor of the Allgemeine Zeitung des Judentums, and in 1898 editor of the Jahrbuch fuer juedische Geschichte und Literatur. This publication was a sequel to the founding of the Berlin Verein fuer juedische Geschichte und Literatur, by Karpeles, in association with others, an example soon followed by many other communities in Germany. These were eventually united, under his leadership, into the Verband der Vereine fuer juedische Geschichte und Literatur (1893). Karpeles published five books on *Heine, and four editions of his work. His writings include Goethe in Polen (1890), Allgemeine Geschichte der Literatur… (2 vols., 1891), and Litterarisches Wanderbuch (1898). His most important contribution to Jewish scholarship was the two-volume Geschichte der juedischen Literatur (1886, 1920–213; partial tr. History of Jewish Literature, n.d.). Smaller works in this field are his Die Frauen der juedischen Literatur (1871); Zionsharfe, a German anthology of medieval Hebrew poetry (1889); and Sechs Vortraege ueber die Geschichte der Juden (1896; A Sketch of Jewish History, 1897). Also in English appeared Jews and Judaism in the 19th Century (1905). Karpeles was not an original or profound scholar, but he did much to popularize Jewish literature and history.
K. Kohler, Living Faith (1948), 227ff. (= AJHSP, 19 (1910), 184–9); G. Kisch (ed.), The Breslau Seminary (1963), 422 (incl. bibl.); M. Levin, in: JJGL, 13 (1910), 1ff.; Waxman, Literature, 3 (1960), 618–21.
Source: Encyclopaedia Judaica. © 2008 The Gale Group. All Rights Reserved.