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Hermann Broch, Visionary in Exile

Hermann Broch, Visionary in Exile: The 2001 Yale Symposium

Edited by Paul Michael Lützeler
Matthias Konzett
Willy Riemer
Christa Sammons
Copyright Date: 2003
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 280
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  • Book Info
    Hermann Broch, Visionary in Exile
    Book Description:

    The Austrian novelist Hermann Broch ranks with Kafka and Musil among the three greatest 20th-century Austrian novelists and belongs to the century's most gifted novelists in German from whatever country. He established his reputation with 'The Sleepwalkers', a trilogy of political and philosophical novels. His best-known work is 'The Death of Virgil', a long, challenging work in a lyrical, exuberant, and sometimes nearly incomprehensible style, a kind of cerebral stream-of-consciousness of the dying Virgil. Broch also wrote extensively about modern art and architecture, Hofmannsthal, and mass psychology. He has a special connection to Yale, as he lived the last years of his life there after having escaped Austria in 1938. The participants in the Yale Symposium of April 2001 are among the world's most prominent Broch scholars. Fourteen of their presentations have been extensively revised for this volume, which focuses on Broch as critic and as novelist and dramatist. Topics include Broch's views on kitsch and art, and on drama; his cultural criticism; his cooperation with Borgese and Arendt; his theory of mass psychology; history in his works, Ernst Kretschmer's influence on him; 'Virgil'and Celan's 'Atemwende'; Jean Starr Untermeyer's translation of 'Virgil'; guilt and the fall in 'Those without Guilt'; and Broch reception in Japan. PAUL MICHAEL LÜTZELER is Distinguished University Professor of German at Washington University St. Louis and editor of Broch's collected works. MATTHIAS KONZETT is associate professor of German at Yale; WILLY RIEMER is associate professor of German at the University of Delaware, and CHRISTA SAMMONS is curator of the German collections of the Beinecke Library at Yale.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-631-2
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-vi)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. vii-x)
  3. Editor’s Preface
    (pp. xi-xiv)
    Paul Michael Lützeler
  4. Introduction: Broch, Our Contemporary
    (pp. 1-10)
    Paul Michael Lützeler

    In 1950—one year before his death — Hermann Broch was nominated for the Nobel Prize in literature by the Austrian P.E.N. Club. Broch did not receive the award; it went to William Faulkner and Bertrand Russell. Thirty years later one of Hermann Broch’s Viennese friends, the one-generation-younger Elias Canetti, received the Nobel Prize for Literature. In his acceptance speech Canetti paid homage to those writers who had influenced him most: Karl Kraus, Franz Kafka, Robert Musil, and Hermann Broch. Canetti stressed that in a way he was accepting the distinguished award as a proxy for these four writers, who had...

  5. I. Hermann Broch:: The Critic

    • Kitsch and Art: Broch’s Essay “Das Böse im Wertsystem der Kunst”
      (pp. 13-20)
      Ruth Kluger

      I would like to sketch a problem, show how Broch deals with it, and then place his solution within a contemporary context and argue that his views remain of importance today, in spite of their partially political origin in the thirties.

      The German word Kitsch, of uncertain origin, is an invention of the late nineteenth century, while the thing itself, I would argue, goes back to the late eighteenth. There was certainly “bad” art before, but it was the art of the dilettante, works that fell short of perfection. Taste was synonymous with good taste, “bad,” that is, corrupted taste...

    • Erneuerung des Theaters?: Broch’s Ideas on Drama in Context
      (pp. 21-36)
      Ernst Schürer

      On October 24, 1932, just after completing his first play, Die Entsühnung. Trauerspiel in drei Akten mit einem Epilog (KW7,11—132), Broch wrote from Vienna to his friends Willa and Edwin Muir in England: “Der Zustand des deutschen Theaters ist schauderhaft (was meiner Theorie vom Absterben dieser Institution leider entspricht).” (KW13/1,220) The direct cause of this harsh condemnation were the difficulties the playwright was experiencing in trying to find a theater to produce his drama. Broch continued his lament with a humorous undertone in a letter to his translators, the Muirs, on December 18, 1932: “[. . .] so viel...

    • “Der Rhythmus der Ideen”: On the Workings of Broch’s Cultural Criticism
      (pp. 37-54)
      Bernhard Fetz

      To sum up the work of Hermann Broch, in a possible-impossible sum, to use Broch’s language, the work centers around the question of how totality is theoretically tenable in a fragmented, differentiated world and obtainable in the process of writing. At the same time, the texts confront the paradox of always being the expression of what they simultaneously seek to overcome.¹

      The art of modernism reacted to the accelerated rhythm of modern life, the tempo set by machine, money, communications systems and media, by revolutionizing poetic language. Broch himself contributed to this reaction, driving out the devil of fragmentation with...

    • “Kurzum die Hölle”: Broch’s Early Political Text “Die Straße”
      (pp. 55-66)
      Wendelin Schmidt-Dengler

      Written in 1918, Broch’s “Die Straße” (KW13/1,30—35)¹ is not only one of the author’s most interesting and enigmatic essays, it is also one of the most important literary documents showing how Austrian authors dealt with the consequences of the First World War, a war that in Robert Musil’s words tore “Welt und Denken” so completely asunder that they could not be mended again.² The text is also rather strange from our point of view, particularly the apodictic judgments it pronounces on Judaism and socialism, suggesting at least a hint of deviation from political correctness. On the other hand, the...

    • Visionaries in Exile: Broch’s Cooperation with G. A. Borgese and Hannah Arendt
      (pp. 67-88)
      Paul Michael Lützeler

      In the late 1980S a provocative book appeared that upset many professors of German literature in the United States, especially experts on exile literature. In his book The Closing of the American Mind, Allan Bloom discussed what he termed the negative impact of the “German connection” on American culture of the twentieth century.¹ The emigrants who fled Hitler’s Germany in the 1930s appeared to Bloom to constitute an unwelcome intellectual invasion. With their psychoanalytical theories and their ideas on the relativity of values, the exiled authors had, according to Bloom, destroyed the traditional educational canon of American colleges and universities...

    • Fear in Culture: Broch’s Massenwahntheorie
      (pp. 89-104)
      Wolfgang Müller-Funk

      There are at least three important works on the concept of “the masses” that grew out of the context of Austrian society: Sigmund Freuds Massenpsychologie und Ich-Analyse (1921), Hermann Brochs unfinished Massenwahntheorie (1939—1948),¹ and, as a postscript, Elias Canettis Masse und Macht (1960). To complete the impression that Austrian intellectual culture was obsessed by the topic of the masses, I should like to add three other literary masterpieces: Ernst Weiss’s novel Der Augenzeuge (1939), a psychoanalytic literary case study on Hitler, in which Weiß has integrated descriptions of masses seduced by the “Führer.” The second work is Heimito von...

  6. II. Hermann Broch:: The Novelist and Dramatist

    • Inscriptions of Power: Broch’s Narratives of History in Die Schlafwandler
      (pp. 107-124)
      Kathleen L. Komar

      In preparing this essay I discovered that rereading Hermann Broch’s Die Schlafwandler after having been away from it for several years is like taking a literary Rorschach test. You discover what is really on your own mind at the moment of critical reception. I was very impressed, for example, with how cleverly Broch had anticipated the business metaphors and practices that would dominate every part of our lives — and perhaps most annoyingly our academic lives — over the past decade. I was convinced that Broch had understood resource-centered management and its ruthless and dehumanizing consequences long before it debilitated a number...

    • The German Colonial Aftermath: Broch’s 1903. Esch oder die Anarchie
      (pp. 125-136)
      Judith Ryan

      I will argue in this essay that 1903: Esch oder die Anarchie, the middle novel of the Schlafwandler trilogy (KW1), can profitably be seen in terms of German colonialism. At first glance, it may appear as if the novel does little more than allude to overseas emigration, and that these allusions belong more properly to the tradition of the America motif as articulated by Goethe and his nineteenth-century successors than to the theme of colonialism as we understand it today.¹ In contrast to the detailed presentation of Wilhelmine Germany and two of its cities, Cologne and Mannheim, the parts of...

    • Neither Sane nor Insane: Ernst Kretschmer’s Influence on Broch’s Early Novels
      (pp. 137-146)
      Gisela Brude-Firnau

      The view of humanity IN Hermann Broch’s Schlafwandler trilogy is, in part, the fictional equivalent of the insight that there is no definite borderline between the sane and the insane. The insane character is no more than the distorted picture of the sane character; the one is contained in the other: a porous, even fluid concept of man. Its mental stigmata are revealed to the reader almost as norms of the disfigured and damaged life.

      This psychopathological twilight zone appears most clearly in two characters who may be called historical epitomes, since they not only are typical of their own...

    • Non-Contemporaneity of the Contemporaneous: Broch’s Novel Die Verzauberung
      (pp. 147-158)
      Gisela Roethke

      Hermann broch’s novel Die Verzauberung is frequently interpreted as an antifascist work and many critics highlight its political dimensions. My purpose in this article is to reemphasize the religious dimensions of the novel. However, although other critics either see the mystical level of the novel as promising a new religiosity or reject Broch’s mysticism as too easily confused with Nazi ideology, I will consider a different aspect of the religious dimensions of the novel. In my view, Broch’s plan of a trilogy of novels centered on the portrayal of religious experience using the concept of the “Ungleichzeitigkeit des Gleichzeitigen,” a...

    • “Great Theater” and “Soap Bubbles”: Broch the Dramatist
      (pp. 159-186)
      Roberto Rizzo

      Hermann broch’s plays were first published by Paul Michael Lützeler in his Kommentierte Werkausgabe (KW7) and more recently in Italy.¹ Readers and even scholars of German literature and those who have studied the great Viennese writer will, in my opinion, certainly be surprised by the tragedy Die Entsühnung (1932), the comedy Aus der Luft gegriffen oder die Geschäfte des Baron Laborde (1934) and the “Schwank mit Musik” Es bleibt alles beim Alten (1934). The reason for such a reaction is quite simply that nobody, apart from a few specialists in this particular field, had previously known that Broch, along with...

    • A Farewell to Art: Poetic Reflection in Broch’s Der Tod des Vergil
      (pp. 187-200)
      Jürgen Heizmann

      Poet: Create, don’ t talk!” reads a much cited appeal to writers to remain silent about the conditions and intent of their actions.¹ This ban has never been binding. Authors of all times have voiced their poetic view of themselves, commented on the writing process or discussed poetic methods, frequently allowing such reflections to influence the literary work itself.

      A poeta doctus such as Hermann Broch, having migrated from philosophy, represents naturally no exception to this. Not only did he write many essays on literary theory connecting the philosophy of history, epistemology, ethics and aesthetics, but he also provided numerous...

    • Poetry as Perjury: The End of Art in Broch’s Der Tod des Vergil and Celan’s Atemwende
      (pp. 201-216)
      Peter Yoonsuk Paik

      If it has been the fate of poetry to be defeated, marginalized, and lorded over by philosophy, we could map the history of modernist literature between two decrees against art — Georg Wilhelm Friedrich Hegel’s thesis that art works have lost their power and capacity to fulfill humanity’s highest needs¹ and Theodor Adorno’s pronouncement that it is barbaric to write poetry after Auschwitz.² It is of course between the time of these two proclamations that art in Europe embarked upon a period of unprecedented formal innovation and that poetry in particular shattered received conventions of rhetoric and syntax. Hegel’s idea of...

    • “Beyond Words”: The Translation of Broch’s Der Tod des Vergil by Jean Starr Untermeyer
      (pp. 217-230)
      John Hargraves

      Since I am a translator as well as a Germanist, I should like this article to call attention to the debt that all literature owes its translators, as well as its interpreters. The reputation of Hermann Broch in particular owes this debt of gratitude to the remarkable translation of The Death of Virgil created by the American poet Jean Starr Untermeyer. Her collaboration with Hermann Broch on the translation of Der Tod des Vergil constitutes one of the strangest and most fascinating literary partnerships of modern times. Much of their voluminous correspondence, mostly in English, from 1939 till Broch’s death...

    • Between Guilt and Fall: Broch’s Die Schuldlosen
      (pp. 231-244)
      Theodore Ziolkowski

      Even before its publication in 1950, Broch’s Die Schuldlosen posed a conundrum for its readers, as we know from the explanatory letters that the author wrote to his friends and from the frustration of his publishers as they sought to accommodate the ever new stories, poems, parables, and essays that the author added to the original collection of four previously published stories. The bewilderment has often persisted. Hermann J. Weigand, Broch’s friend and an early admirer of the work, wrote of the confusing complexity of this constantly shifting puzzle (“Vexierbild”).¹ A mid-century English survey of the modern German novel called...

    • Broch Reception in Japan: Shin’ichiro Nakamura and Die Schuldlosen
      (pp. 245-252)
      Koichi Yamaguchi

      First I would like to speak of my memories of H. F. Broch de Rothermann. I came to New Haven thanks to his invisible support, like Andreas in Verlorener Sohn (KW5,50—83) or Die Heimkehr (KW6,162—96), who reached the house of Baroness W. led by an invisible current across “Bahnhofsplatz” and the “Gartenanlage mit dem Sförmigen Fußweg und Kiosk” (KW5,50/54). I first wrote to Broch de Rothermann in New York twenty years ago, since I needed his permission to use the Broch manuscripts in the Beinecke Library, at Yale sity. His answer came soon, informing me that photocopies of...

  7. Notes on the Contributors
    (pp. 253-256)
  8. Index of Broch’s Works
    (pp. 257-258)
  9. Index of Names
    (pp. 259-266)
  10. Back Matter
    (pp. 267-267)