Sir, – It is a sad irony today, in the era of fake news, that Karl Kraus, the pioneer of media critique who exposed fake news in the propaganda of the first World War, is now frequently credited with fake quotations. In view of the falsehoods purveyed in the name of Brexit, Eoin Dillon (Letters, August 17th) may not be entirely at fault for wanting to cite Kraus to ridicule the Brexiteers.
Unfortunately, however, the phrase “the situation is hopeless but not serious” is not by Karl Kraus, but belongs to a whole online plague of fake Kraus quotations.
As documented by the Viennese Kraus Archive, it was another Viennese writer, Alfred Polgar, who was the first to coin the phrase, inverting the commonplace “the situation is serious but not hopeless”. – Yours, etc,