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Ernst Robert Curtius (April 14, 1886 ‚Äď April 19, 1956) was a German literary scholar, a philologist and Romance language literary critic.

He is best known for his 1948 work Europäische Literatur und Lateinisches Mittelalter.[1] It was a major study of the Medieval Latin literature and its effect on subsequent writing in modern European languages. It was largely responsible for introducing the literary topos concept as a scholarly and critical discussion of literary commonplaces.

Curtius studied philology and philosophy in Strasbourg, Berlin, and Heidelberg. He was a professor in Marburg, Heidelberg, and Bonn and was a proponent of French literature to the German public. He died in Rome.

Ernst Curtius, his grandfather, and Georg Curtius, his great-uncle, were both notable scholars. He was Alsatian, being born in Thann, into a north German family.


  • Die literarischen Wegbereiter des neuen Frankreich (1919)
  • Die Franz√∂sische Kultur (1931, translation as The Civilization of France: An Introduction (1932)
  • Europ√§ische Literatur und lateinisches Mittelalter (1948)
  • Franz√∂sischer Geist im 20. Jahrhundert (1952)


  1. ^ English translation European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages, by Willard R. Trask. New York: Harper Row, Publishers, 1953 ISBN 0691018995

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