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A History of Austrian Literature 1918-2000

A History of Austrian Literature 1918-2000

Katrin Kohl
Ritchie Robertson
Copyright Date: 2006
Edition: NED - New edition
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 364
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  • Book Info
    A History of Austrian Literature 1918-2000
    Book Description:

    20th-century Austrian literature boasts many outstanding writers: Schnitzler, Musil, Rilke, Kraus, Celan, Canetti, Bernhard, Jelinek. These and others feature in broader accounts of German literature, but it is desirable to see how the Austrian literary scene -- and Austrian society itself -- shaped their writing. This volume thus surveys Austrian writers of drama, prose fiction, and lyric poetry; relates them to the distinctive history of modern Austria, a democratic republic that was overtaken by civil war and authoritarian rule, absorbed into Nazi Germany, and re-established as a neutral state; and examines their response to controversial events such as the collusion with Nazism, the Waldheim affair, and the rise of Haider and the extreme right. In addition to confronting controversy in the relations between literature, history, and politics, the volume examines popular culture in line with current trends. Contributors: Judith Beniston, Janet Stewart, Andrew Barker, Murray Hall, Anthony Bushell, Dagmar Lorenz, Juliane Vogel, Jonathan Long, Joseph McVeigh, Allyson Fiddler. Katrin Kohl is Lecturer in German and a Fellow of Jesus College, and Ritchie Robertson is Taylor Professor of German Language and Literature and a Fellow of The Queen's College, both at the University of Oxford.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-670-1
    Subjects: Language & Literature, History

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-viii)
  4. Acknowledgments
    (pp. ix-ix)
    Katrin Kohl and Ritchie Robertson
  5. Note on the Dates and Translations
    (pp. x-x)
  6. Key Dates
    (pp. xi-xii)
  7. Introduction
    (pp. 1-20)
    Katrin Kohl and Ritchie Robertson

    Gibt es eine österreichische Literatur?” — Is there such a thing as Austrian literature? This question, posed for a survey in 1936, was famously answered in the affirmative by Thomas Mann: “Die spezifische Besonderheit der österreichischen Literatur ist zwar nicht leicht zu bestimmen, aber jeder empfindet sie” (The specific particularity of Austrian literature is not easy to define, but everyone perceives it).¹ The vagueness of Mann’s response was not designed to lay this question to rest, and it has become a standard point of departure for reflections on Austrian literary identity. In 1976, exile writer Hilde Spiel used Mann’s answer...

  8. 1: Drama in Austria, 1918–45
    (pp. 21-52)
    Judith Beniston

    The political upheavals of 1918–19 — the collapse of the Habsburg Empire, the declaration of the First Austrian Republic and the associated threat of Bolshevik Revolution — were accompanied not only by economic crisis and grave material privations but also by widespread sociocultural and psychological disturbance. Austrian identity became problematic for many: deprived of the cohesion provided by the dynastic factor, the rump Republic had little to unite its largely conservative and rural Alpine provinces with an over-large, now geographically peripheral capital city that had long been famed for its cosmopolitanism and for the modernist culture of its predominantly...

  9. 2: Austrian Prose Fiction, 1918–45
    (pp. 53-74)
    Ritchie Robertson

    Austrian fiction between the wars is marked by the trauma of the Habsburg Empire’s dissolution. It left a former Imperial capital incongruously stranded in a small, largely Alpine republic. The progressive Socialism of “Red Vienna” was at odds with the conservatism of the provinces. Inflation, unemployment, and threats from opposing paramilitary forces culminated in the Civil War of February 1934, the suspension of parliament, and the installation of the clerical authoritarianStändestaat(corporate state), which was nevertheless a bulwark against Nazi Germany. TheAnschlussin March 1938 drove some writers to suicide and sent many into exile. Of those who...

  10. 3: Publishers and Institutions in Austria, 1918–45
    (pp. 75-86)
    Murray G. Hall

    In 1921, just three years after the founding of the First Austrian Republic, a Viennese observer of the book trade by the name of Carl Junker lamented that there were noliterarypublishing houses worthy of mention (“[kein] namhafter belletristischer Verlag”) in Austria.¹ There is some truth in this statement, for a glance at the publishing world at the time reveals that the popular literature of the turn of the century, which is today considered by literary historians to be representative of the period and of Austrian literature in general, appeared in publishing houses in Berlin or Leipzig. The works...

  11. 4: Popular Culture in Austria: Cabaret and Film, 1918–45
    (pp. 87-106)
    Janet Stewart

    In 1895, the Museum der Volkskunde (Museum of Folklore) was established in Vienna, a year after the constitution of the Verein für Volkskunde (Association for Folklore), which sought to understand a particular form of popular culture — traditional folk culture — from the vantage point of historical anthropology. Programmatically, the first issue of the association’s journal,Die österreichische Zeitschrift für Volkskunde(The Austrian Journal of Folklore), included articles by Richard von Kralik titled “Zur österreichischen Sagenkunde” (The Study of Austrian Legend and Myth”) and Alois Riegl titled “Das Volksmäßige und die Gegenwart” (The Folkish and the Present).¹ The whole undertaking...

  12. 5: The Politics of Austrian Literature, 1927–56
    (pp. 107-126)
    Andrew Barker

    On 15 July 1927, a demonstration outside the Vienna Palace of Justice ended with corpses on the street and the building gutted by fire. It was a decisive moment in the chain of events leading to the suspension of parliamentary government in March 1933, the Civil War of February 1934, the assassination of Chancellor Dollfuss in July 1934 and the instant demise of the “state that nobody wanted” when Hitler’s German troops marched in on 12 March 1938.¹

    The effects of what Erich Fried dubbed “Bloody Friday”² went far beyond the political sphere, highlighting the extent to which literature in...

  13. 6: Austrian Poetry, 1918–2000
    (pp. 127-162)
    Katrin Kohl

    Of all the literary genres, poetry is perhaps most strongly shaped by the language in which it is written, and least determined by political territory. Poems often have no culturally and nationally distinctive setting; they are seldom peopled by characters with an obvious national identity; and reception of the poetic forms that were dominant in the twentieth century is rarely dependent on performance in a public space. Nevertheless, all poetry is specific to language communities and therefore to cultural and political communities. The complexity of those communities in Austria, and their changing identities in the political contexts of the Austro-Hungarian...

  14. Illustrations
    (pp. None)
  15. 7: Writing in Austria after 1945: The Political, Institutional, and Publishing Context
    (pp. 163-180)
    Anthony Bushell

    Austria was liberated from German occupation in May of 1945. By July of that year, while cities such as Vienna were still struggling with the ravages brought about by the fierce defense of the Reich’s eastern borders, and some 34,000 Austrians had been killed in air-raids alone,¹ the debate on the future and the function of literature in postwar Austria was already receiving considerable attention from Austrians of all political persuasions. Immediately after the war Viktor Matejka had become head of Vienna’s Department for Culture and Adult Education. He had been interned in Dachau by the National Socialists and was...

  16. 8: Austrian Responses to National Socialism and the Holocaust
    (pp. 181-200)
    Dagmar C. G. Lorenz

    In the decades following the Second World War widespread Austrian support for Austro-fascism and National Socialism as well as Austrian participation in the Nazi military and the actual degree to which Austrians had taken part in the Holocaust gradually came to light. It also became obvious that authoritarian attitudes, intolerance, racism, and chauvinism — the syndrome referred to in the 1970s as “everyday fascism” and described by Ingeborg Bachmann inDer Fall Franza(The Franza Case, published posthumously in 1981) and thematized by Elfriede Jelinek inDie Ausgesperrten(The Excluded, 1980) — had outlasted the Nazi system.¹ The survival of...

  17. 9: Drama in Austria, 1945–2000
    (pp. 201-222)
    Juliane Vogel

    The reconstruction of the Austrian theater after 1945 had initially to face the traumatic fact that the Staatsoper and the Burgtheater, previously the centers of its tradition, could no longer be used for performances. The great venues of Austrian drama had been destroyed by bombs. Performances were held in “Ronacher,” a former popular entertainment hall. This destruction of the national theaters meant the destruction of cultural and political self-respect. “Mit dem Stephansdom hat Wien seinen Glauben, mit der Burg seinen Stolz, mit der Oper die Freude verloren” (Along with St Stephen’s, Austria lost its faith; with the Burg, its pride;...

  18. 10: Austrian Prose Fiction, 1945–2000
    (pp. 223-246)
    J. J. Long

    Germany’s annexation of Austria in 1938 destroyed the flourishing literary culture of interwar Austria almost overnight. Among the émigrés from Nazism were many of the most eminent literary figures of the age, and remarkably few of the exiled Austrian writers returned after 1945. This offered, as film-maker and writer Ruth Beckermann puts it, “an opportunity for the mediocre, those who stayed behind, to attain honor and glory.”¹ The charge of mediocrity, though apposite, conceals another characteristic of those who stayed behind, namely the fact that many of them had co-operated to a greater or lesser degree with the National Socialists....

  19. 11: Popular Culture in Austria, 1945–2000
    (pp. 247-264)
    Joseph McVeigh

    Austria’s unique political situation in the first postwar decade did much to shape its popular culture of subsequent decades.¹ The Moscow Declaration of the Allies (1943) viewed Austria as both a victim of Nazi aggression as well as a co-combatant with the Third Reich. As a result, Austria was occupied by the victorious Allies until 1955, but was nevertheless granted a large degree of autonomy through a federal government elected in November of 1945. In the first postwar decade this situation set the stage for a vibrant competition between indigenous cultural traditions and impulses from the foreign cultures represented by...

  20. 12: Shifting Boundaries: Responses to Multiculturalism at the Turn of the Twenty-First Century
    (pp. 265-290)
    Allyson Fiddler

    The physical and territorial boundaries of Austria may not have changed since the end of the Second World War and the founding of the Second Republic, but Austria’s geopolitical significance, its demographic makeup, and its citizens’ understanding of Austrian nationhood have all changed significantly over the last few decades.¹ Austria’s internal social and political fabric is altering too, with a move away from the old consensus-based social partnership model towards a pattern of non-interventionist free-market capitalism, modern technologies, international cooperation, and global financial interventions. Rudolf Burger posited that the entry of Austria into the European Union in 1995 brought to...

  21. Further Reading
    (pp. 291-308)
  22. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. 309-312)
  23. Index
    (pp. 313-336)
  24. Back Matter
    (pp. 337-337)