Academic journal article German Quarterly

Beyond Vienna: Contemporary Literature from the Austrian Provinces

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Beyond Vienna: Contemporary Literature from the Austrian Provinces

Article excerpt

Hanlin, Todd C, ed. Beyond Vienna: Contemporary Literature from the Austrian Provinces. Riverside, CA: Ariadne Press, 2008. 294 pp. $32.00 paperback.

In his introduction to Beyond Vienna, editor Todd C. Hanlin poses questions central to the volume at hand : what has changed in the last century in the relationship between Austrian center and periphery? Can one still speak of a discrete provincial Austrian literature today? And, what contributions have the provinces made to Austrian literature? Reading this collection of essays, makes clear the diversity of provincial literature, and the breadth of interpretations. In surveying the articles by the nine contributors to the volume, one gains a varied picture of the nature and function of the space referred to as "beyond Vienna."

Jörg Thunecke engages the concepts oiHeimat- and anti-Heimat literature to examine Friedrich Ch. Zauner 's work, stressing Zauner 's objectivity in the depiction of several isolated villages. Paul F. Dvorak focuses on Alois Brandstetter's technique of opposing Heimat not only to the city, but also to the modern, proposing that Brandstetter's focus on language and meaning sets him apart from traditional provincial literature. Of interest is the discussion of Brandstetter 's collaboration with photographers to recapture through etymology and image a countryside that is receding into the past.

Kathleen Condray examines the themes of violence, belonging, and social stratification within a gendered context in the work of Anna Mitgutsch, and suggests a connection between violence in the countryside and the violence of the Third Reich. Geoffrey C. Howes, in his analysis of the poetry of Christine Lavant, posits that her personal spiritual quest mimics the experience of modernity, and that her striving for madness is an attempt to escape into secular ecstasy as a substitute for a religious ecstasy she cannot achieve. Gerlinde Ulm Sanford surveys the work of Felix Mitterer and traces the multifold ways a character in his works may become estranged from his own society, following life paths that act as signifiers of a changing value system. Donald D. Daviau devotes his essay to the work of Gloria Kaiser. Pointing out that today one can be an international writer from any geographical location, Daviau discusses Kaiser's prolific literary production on Brazilian themes. …

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