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Fictions from an Orphan State

Fictions from an Orphan State: Literary Reflections of Austria between Habsburg and Hitler

Andrew Barker
Volume: 119
Copyright Date: 2012
Published by: Boydell and Brewer,
Pages: 216
https://www.jstor.org/stable/10.7722/j.cttn34kw
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  • Book Info
    Fictions from an Orphan State
    Book Description:

    The literary flair of fin-de-siècle Vienna lived on after 1918 in the First Austrian Republic even as writers grappled with the consequences of a lost war and the vanished Habsburg Empire. Reacting to historical and political issues often distinct from those in Weimar Germany, Austrian literary culture, though frequently associated with Jewish writers deeply attached to the concept of an independent Austria, reflected the republic's ever-deepening antisemitism and the growing clamor for political union with Germany. Spanning the two momentous decades between the fall of the empire in 1918 and the Nazi 'Anschluss' in 1938, this book explores work by canonical writers such as Schnitzler, Kraus, Roth, and Werfel and by now-forgotten figures such as the pacifist Andreas Latzko, the arch-Nazi Bruno Brehm, and the fervently Jewish Soma Morgenstern. Also taken into account are Ernst Weiss's 'Hitler' novel 'Der Augenzeuge' and 1930s works about First Republic Austria by the German Communist writers Anna Seghers and Friedrich Wolf. Andrew Barker's book paints a varied and vivid picture of one of the most challenging and underresearched periods in twentieth-century cultural history. Andrew Barker is Emeritus Professor of Austrian Studies at the University of Edinburgh, Scotland.

    eISBN: 978-1-57113-831-6
    Subjects: Language & Literature

Table of Contents

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  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. Acknowledgments
    (pp. vii-viii)
    Andrew Barker
  4. Preamble: A Cold Sun
    (pp. 1-20)

    This study focuses on literature from and about Austria between the war-torn end of the Dual Monarchy and the jubilant annexation of the First Republic by the Nazis. Its aim is to show how writers across the spectrum of race, politics, and religion responded to the burden of the past, the demands of the present, and the prospect of what was for many a terrifying future. Mining the wealth of relatively unfamiliar material still available to scholars from two of the most widely debated decades in European history, I try to redress the critical imbalance that has arisen thanks to...

  5. 1: Soldiers’ Tales: Andreas Latzko, Ernst Weiss
    (pp. 21-48)

    From Trakl’s battle-poem “Grodek” (1914) to Kraus’s gargantuan drama Die letzten Tage der Menschheit (The Last Days of Mankind, 1919–22), some of the finest works in the Austrian canon were inspired by the trauma of the Great War. For many readers today, however, war fiction in German usually begins and ends with two novels belonging to the Weimar tradition rather than the Austrian tradition — Arnold Zweig’s Der Streit um den Sergeanten Grischa (The Argument over Sergeant Grischa, 1927) and E. M. Remarque’s Im Westen nichts Neues (All Quiet on the Western Front, 1929). Since both novels appeared some while...

  6. 2: The Habsburg Legacy: Arthur Schnitzler, Franz Werfel, Joseph Roth
    (pp. 49-84)

    Acknowledged as a peerless chronicler of Vienna at the turn of the twentieth century, Arthur Schnitzler unwrapped the social and psychological realities of the society that nurtured both Freud and Hitler. It is also often noted that Schnitzler’s works written after 1918 rarely reflect life in the postimperial era. Instead, despite their diminishing relevance to the troubled new realities of the First Republic, Schnitzler continued to evoke the pre-war days until the end of his working life. The monologue novella Fräulein Else, published in 1924 but set in 1896,¹ therefore seems typical of an author apparently working in a time...

  7. 3: “Hakenkreuz” and “Davidstern”: Bruno Brehm, Soma Morgenstern
    (pp. 85-112)

    The year 1932 saw the publication of two novels that today enjoy iconic status across modern Austrian and German literature: Joseph Roth’s elegaic Radeztkymarsch, and the second installment of Robert Musil’s majestic fragment Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften (The Man without Qualities). Sadly, neither man rated the other’s work very highly. Musil dismissed Radetzkymarsch as a typical “Kasernenroman” (novel of military life); Roth was exasperated by Musil’s repeated use of the word “Kakanien” to designate the Habsburg Empire whose death throes had inspired them both.¹ Insofar as each instrumentalizes aspects of recent history, rather than dealing directly with the immediate present,...

  8. 4: Charting February 1934: Karl Kraus, Anna Seghers, Friedrich Wolf, Alois Vogel
    (pp. 113-145)

    The First Austrian Republic survived for just under twenty mostly miserable years. Beset by the financial, civic, and ethnic tensions ensuing from the collapse not just of the Habsburg Empire, but of the entire continental European polity in 1918, the republic inevitably presented some rich pickings for the greatest satirist of this era. Just as in imperial times, during the 1920s Kraus campaigned relentlessly and effectively against the frailties of literati and politicians, and the veniality of the press. Particularly memorable were the sustained onslaughts on the corrupt Hungarian newspaper magnate Imre Békessy and on the Vienna chief of police...

  9. 5: Finis Austriae?: Joseph Roth, Ernst Weiss, Heimito von Doderer
    (pp. 146-174)

    From the moment the nazis grabbed power, many Austrian writers living in Germany knew that the game was up if they stayed on there. Some, like Robert Musil and Stefan Großmann, simply returned home to carry on writing there as best they could.¹ Fortunate enough to be supported by a Viennese foundation bearing his name, Musil continued working on Der Mann ohne Eigenschaften, whose second volume had appeared in Berlin in December 1932. To remind the public of his existence as he worked on the next installment, Musil published a collection of shorter items with the Humanitas Verlag in Zurich,...

  10. Postscript
    (pp. 175-180)

    In 1878 Richard Wagner Published an essay posing the deceptively simple question “Was ist deutsch?” (What is German?).¹ It was a question whose complex, ultimately murderous, ramifications reverberated through much of the twentieth century. It was indisputably a pivotal question at the inception of the small and vulnerable Austrian republic, born out of the rubble of a great empire, that originally elected to name itself “DeutschÖsterreich.” The often overlooked literary reflections of what transpired there in those two short decades before the “German Question” was seemingly put to rest by Hitler’s annexation of the First Austrian Republic into the “Thousand...

  11. Bibliography
    (pp. 181-194)
  12. Index
    (pp. 195-206)
  13. Back Matter
    (pp. 207-207)