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The Viennese Cafe and Fin-de-Siecle Culture

The Viennese Cafe and Fin-de-Siecle Culture

Charlotte Ashby
Tag Gronberg
Simon Shaw-Miller
Copyright Date: 2013
Edition: 1
Published by: Berghahn Books
Pages: 256
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  • Book Info
    The Viennese Cafe and Fin-de-Siecle Culture
    Book Description:

    The Viennese cafe was a key site of urban modernity around 1900. In the rapidly growing city it functioned simultaneously as home and workplace, affording opportunities for both leisure and intellectual exchange. This volume explores the nature and function of the coffeehouse in the social, cultural and political world of fin-de-siecle Vienna. Just as the cafe served as a creative meeting place within the city, so this volume initiates conversations between different disciplines focusing on Vienna 1900. Contributions are drawn from the fields of social and cultural history, literary studies, Jewish studies and art, and architectural and design history. A fresh perspective is also provided by a selection of comparative articles exploring coffeehouse culture elsewhere in Eastern Europe.

    eISBN: 978-0-85745-765-3
    Subjects: History, Architecture and Architectural History

Table of Contents

  1. Front Matter
    (pp. i-iv)
  2. Table of Contents
    (pp. v-vi)
  3. List of Illustrations
    (pp. vii-x)
  4. Preface
    (pp. xi-xii)
  5. Introduction The Viennese Café and Fin-de-siècle Culture
    (pp. 1-8)
    Charlotte Ashby

    The café is a space intimately associated with the development of modern urban culture: a site of spectacle, consumption and sexual licence on the one hand, and on the other a site for the gestation of new political, social and creative ideas. From Jürgen Habermas’The Structural Transformation of the Public Sphere, in 1962, the link between the coffeehouse and the development of modern public discourse was established.¹ Despite the recognised significance of the café space, the informal, haphazard and ephemeral nature of café life has made it relatively resistant to scholarly enquiry.

    In recent years there have been a...

  6. Chapter 1 The Cafés of Vienna: Space and Sociability
    (pp. 9-31)
    Charlotte Ashby

    In every large or small town throughout the Habsburg lands there is a Viennese coffeehouse. In it can be found marble tables, bentwood chairs and seating booths with leather covers and plush upholstery. In bent-cane newspaper-holders theNeue Freie Presse hangsamong the local papers on the wall … Behind the counter sits the voluptuous and coiffured cashier. Near her looms the expressionless face of the head waiter, who as soon as the call ‘Herr Ober, the bill!’ is issued, will vanish from the guest’s field of vision. The barman lurks casually, but jumps to attention readily enough, though at...

  7. Chapter 2 Time and Space in the Café Griensteidl and the Café Central
    (pp. 32-49)
    Gilbert Carr

    The German exile writer Karl Otten’s assessment that the coffeehouse was for modernist culture what theagorawas for Socrates may resonate with other generalisations about the public sphere;¹ however, it also raises questions about the modern substitution of that open forum by the enclosed spaces of the coffeehouse, a place of intellectual encounters and literary production. As has been noted, Jürgen Habermas’ theory of the public sphere has certainly influenced approaches to Vienna’s rich coffeehouse culture.² Ursula Keller applied it in her 1984 monograph on Arthur Schnitzler, generalising about that ‘very Austrian’ hybrid, anErsatz‘public sphere’ with ‘private...

  8. Chapter 3 ‘The Jew belongs in the Coffeehouse’: Jews, Central Europe and Modernity
    (pp. 50-58)
    Steven Beller

    In late 1895 Vienna was in the midst of a crisis of authority and power. In November of that year Emperor Franz Joseph had refused to confirm Karl Lueger as mayor of the city, but the Christian Socials had not accepted this setback. In early December they were still holding protest meetings against this attempt to subvert the popular will, that is to say to deny their victories in the municipal elections of that year. The 3 December issue of theNeue Freie Pressereported on one such meeting, a Christian Social ‘Women’s Meeting’ in the Volksprater:

    In the Praterstrasse...

  9. Chapter 4 Coffeehouse Orientalism
    (pp. 59-77)
    Tag Gronberg

    These two quotations might be read as indications of the persistence and ubiquity of the turn-of-the-century Viennese coffeehouse. They clearly pertain to very different historical periods and milieux. Torberg’s poignant anecdote is one of many in his bookTante Joleschchronicling the Jewish coffeehouse world of Austria, as it survived the First World War only to collapse in 1938. His book is a tribute to the rich culture fostered by the Viennese coffeehouse, but it is also a monument to a loss that occurred twice over. For Torberg, the coffeehouse more than any other place or social environment vividly embodied...

  10. Chapter 5 Between ‘The House of Study’ and the Coffeehouse: The Central European Café as a Site for Hebrew and Yiddish Modernism
    (pp. 78-97)
    Shachar Pinsker

    Fin-de-siècle Vienna remains fixed in our imagination as an outstanding example of urban modernism and it is still common practice to regard the Vienna of this period as ‘the focal point’ of European modernism.¹ No account of Fin-de-Siècle Vienna can avoid discussing the Jewish aspect of this ‘golden-age’ of modernism. In his seminal studyFin-de-Siècle Vienna, Carl Schorske tends to both emphasise and downplay the role of Jews in Viennese modernist culture. He writes that ‘the failure to acquire a monopoly of power left the bourgeois always something of an outsider, seeking integration with the aristocracy. The numerous and prosperous...

  11. Chapter 6 Michalik’s Café in Kraków: Café and Caricature as Media of Modernity
    (pp. 98-121)
    Katarzyna Murawska-Muthesius

    Caricatures must have been produced at café tables all over the world. The significance of caricature for the aesthetics of modernity was declared by Baudelaire in mid-nineteenth-century Paris, while the uniqueness of the coffeehouse as a hub of the modernist literary movement has been discussed extensively in the context of turn-of-the-century Vienna.¹ What I am particularly interested in is the symbiotic interaction between these two – the medium of caricature and the socio-cultural institution of the café – and in their joint contribution to the process of fostering modern urban identities. This text examines the relationship between café-art and café-space in fin-de-siècle...

  12. Chapter 7 The Coffeehouse in Zagreb at the Turn of the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries: Similarities and Differences with the Viennese Coffeehouse
    (pp. 122-137)
    Ines Sabotič

    ‘In Coffeehouses about Coffeehouses (Reflections around a Table)’ is the title of a feuilleton by Nikola Polić, one of the famous youngStammgästeof Zagreb’s coffeehouses. Published in 1921, it is a kind of résumé, balance sheet, or testimony to a lost world and way of life: ‘Oh, how many nice institutions were destroyed by Mr War!’¹ The war woke up many a conscience, dispelled illusions, and changed the geography of Europe. Croatia no longer belonged to the Dual Monarchy of Austria-Hungary but to the Kingdom of Serbs, Croats and Slovenes. Polić reflected on the coffeehouse as an important element...

  13. Chapter 8 Adolf Loos’s Kärntner Bar: Reception, Reinvention, Reproduction
    (pp. 138-157)
    Mary Costello

    On a May evening in 2008, a large party was held on the Kärntnerdurchgang, a small side-street off the Kärntnerstrasse, in the heart of Vienna’s Innere Stadt. The occasion was the centenary celebration of the street’s most famous bar, the ‘Kärntner Bar’ or ‘American Bar’, designed by the architect Adolf Loos, and now known more commonly as the ‘Loos Bar’. The celebration was part of a year-long campaign in honour of ‘100 Jahre Loos Bar’, as posters placed across the city announced, but the actual date of the party did not correspond to the original opening date of the bar....

  14. Chapter 9 Graphic and Interior Design in the Viennese Coffeehouse around 1900: Experience and Identity
    (pp. 158-177)
    Jeremy Aynsley

    Representations of people reading became a familiar trope in the history of the Viennese coffeehouse. Whether featuring an older man under the guise of a philosopher or member of the literati, as in Reinhold Völkel’s famous painting of Café Griensteidl of 1896, or a fashionably-dressed younger woman participating in a vibrant part of modern life, as in Moriz Jung’s equally renowned Wiener Werkstätte postcard of Café Heinrichhof of 1910, popular and familiar forms of visual culture linked the pleasures of coffee drinking and reading in the coffeehouse interior. These images appeared in magazines that offered commentary on the phenomenon of...

  15. Chapter 10 The Cliché of the Viennese Café as an Extended Living Room: Formal Parallels and Differences
    (pp. 178-198)
    Richard Kurdiovsky

    The brightly upholstered booths of the typical Viennese café are comfortable and inviting. The high back-rests und softly upholstered arm-rests invite the visitor to sit, to talk and even to stretch out in a relaxed and casual way – as illustrated in the conspicuously casual posture of ‘Der Litterat’ by Moriz Jung (Figure 10.1).¹ This seating helps to form the special homely character of a Viennese coffeehouse. This furniture type is comparable to that found in middle-class living rooms. It is not merely coincidence that Carl Witzmann, who designed many comfortable and ‘refined bourgeois’ apartments, is considered asthecoffeehouse architect...

  16. Chapter 11 Coffeehouses and Tea Parties: Conversational Spaces as a Stimulus to Creativity in Sigmund Freud’s Vienna and Virginia Woolf’s London
    (pp. 199-220)
    Edward Timms

    The worlds of Sigmund Freud and Virginia Woolf appear to be poles apart, but there are also – as this chapter will show – striking parallels and surprising convergences. The most obvious contrast is that between the public and the private sphere – between coffeehouses and tea parties. In Freud’s Vienna around the year 1910, avant-garde intellectuals, artists and musicians enjoyed the benefits of uniquely productive public spaces such as the Café Central and the Café Griensteidl (Figures 2.2 and 2.3). These prestigious coffeehouses are celebrated in the literature of the period and have attracted sustained attention from cultural historians.¹ However, it is...

  17. Notes on Contributors
    (pp. 221-223)
  18. Selected Bibliography
    (pp. 224-228)
  19. Index
    (pp. 229-244)