- Elgar original reference
Edited by Philip Arestis and Malcolm Sawyer
Nicholas August Ludwig Jacob JOHANNSEN (1844–1928) Christof Rühl Knowledge of Nicholas Johannsen’s life is still very limited. He was born in Berlin in 1844 and later moved to the US where after the turn of the century we ﬁnd him in New York City, being employed in the import–export business. The exact date of this transition is not known, nor do we have any ﬁrm evidence on the extent to which he later became the independent businessman he sometimes claimed to be. It is obvious, however, that Johannsen did visit the US several times before his move and also that he must have been able to return to Germany on a regular basis after having settled down in New York. Throughout his life he was keenly interested in Germany’s political and economic affairs, claiming that the ‘crucial point of criticism’ would be there (1913, p. 220). Accordingly he published in both languages; he was engaged in the major political debates of his time and, besides economic theory, wrote on astrophysics. Research has been hampered by the fact that Johannsen initially used two pen-names, apparently to avoid irritating an employer who did not quite approve of the idea of a clerk spending his nights at the writing desk. The names were A. Merwin (under which the ﬁrst article appeared of which we have knowledge) and J.J.O. Lahn (for the publication of his ﬁrst two books). Johannsen, who described himself as a ‘self-taught’ businessman entirely without academic blessings, died...
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