POLGAR, ALFRED (1873–1955), Austrian essayist and critic. One of Austria's foremost prose stylists and drama critics, Polgar, who was born as Alfred Polak, was the son of a Viennese musician. He worked as a reporter and as drama critic for the Wiener Allgemeinen Zeitung. From 1918 he voiced his pacifistic views, which were influenced by his impressions of World War I, in the journal Der Friede and in monographs such as Kleine Zeit (1919) and Schwarz auf Weiss (1929). In 1925 he moved to Berlin, where he contributed to such eminent periodicals as Die Weltbuehne and the Berliner Tageblatt. He returned to Vienna upon the Nazis' accession to power in Germany, where he worked as a reporter for German-language foreign papers. In 1938 he fled to Paris and in 1940 he settled in the U.S. After 1949 he spent much of his time in Europe. In his years of exile and after the war Polgar was active as a translator, adapter, and cultural mediator. He died in a hotel while on a visit to Zurich.
A prolific and subtle writer, Polgar produced many brilliant feuilletons, impressionistic sketches, reviews, parodies, satires, and elegant short essays and vignettes in the style of Peter *Altenberg. Polgar collaborated with Egon *Friedell on the witty satirical plays Goethe im Examen (1908) and Soldatenleben im Frieden (1910). One of several collections of his short stories appeared in 1912 under the title Hiob. Polgar's collected critical writings appeared as Ja und Nein (4 vols., 1926–27, 1956), followed by Handbuch des Kritikers (1938, 1997). Collections of Polgar's work were compiled and published in six volumes under the title Kleine Schriften (1982–86), edited by M. Reich-Ranicki and U. Weinzierl, and Das Grosse Lesebuch (2003), edited by H. Rowohlt.
K. Schuemann, Im Bannkreis von Gesichtund Wirken (1959), 133–70; F. Lennartz, Deutsche Dichter und Schriftsteller unserer Zeit (19598), 591–3; H. Kesten, Meine Freunde die Poeten (1959), 79–84; H. Zohn, Wiener Juden in der deutschen Literatur (1964), 57–60. ADD. BIBLIOGRAPHY: U. Weinzierl, in: Taschenspiegel (1979), 187–242; idem, Alfred Polgar: Eine Biographie (1985).