Notes on Hermann Broch, Karl Kraus and
The present article sets out to insert some unlikely names (Hermann Broch and Karl Kraus) into the debate on the invention of politics in the modernist avant-garde. I do so in order to explore what it entails to reject a doxographic approach to the politics of literature in favour of a less referential and more performative look at how new forms of community are being negotiated in modernist (and) avant-garde practices. My analysis is inspired by a more rhetorical outlook and ties in with more general concerns about authority and authorship in discourse. My main interest is the way ideology and politics take shape through argumentative strategies. I will first situate Broch and Kraus into lesser known constellations, and I will then go on to elaborate some methodological concerns with respect to a rhetorical approach to performativity.
It is a truism that the threat and lure of political totalitarianism casts its shadow over the relationship between literature and politics during the interbellum and its immediate aftermath. But this shadow took a surprising shape in a very ardent defence of democracy that may be seen to backfire (or at least have unexpected effects) in rhetorical terms. The case in point is Hermann Broch, a Jewish-Austrian writer who went into exile in 1938 and died in the U.S. in 1951. Especially