The Feminist Encyclopedia of German Literature

By Friederike Eigler; Susanne Kord | Go to book overview

Jelinek, Elfriede (1946-present). Jelinek, author of highly innovative and provocative texts, is probably the best-known and most controversial woman writer in Austria today. Her early writings are grounded in the politically oriented faction of the Grazer Gruppe, a loose association of Austrian avant-garde writers of the 1960s and 1970s (influenced by the better-known Wiener Gruppe). The combination of experimental forms--aimed at defamiliarizing language-- and radical social critique continues to mark Jelinek's otherwise highly diverse works until today. Since her first publication in 1967 (the poetry volume Lisas Schatten), Jelinek has written in many different genres (poetry, prose, drama, radio play, screenplay, libretto, translation, and essays on political and aesthetic issues), but she is primarily known for her prose works (especially for the novels Die Klavierspielerin, 1983, and Lust, 1989). By comparison, her dramatic works have received less public attention. This is, in part, due to the fact that, until recently, established theaters (particularly in her home country, Austria) have been reluctant to stage her plays.

Continuing and radicalizing the satirical tradition of Austrian Jewish writers (e.g., Karl Kraus and Elias Canetti), Jelinek's social critique has three main and interrelated targets. First, as a declared Marxist--she continues to identify with Marxism even after having left the Communist Party of Austria in the aftermath of the political events in 1989--she relentlessly attacks capitalist consumer society, its reinforcement in popular culture, and the ensuing commodification of all human beings and relationships (e.g., her earlier works wir sind lockvögel baby!, 1968; Michael, ein Jugendbuch, 1972; Die Liebhaberinnen, 1975). Second, Jelinek attacks the remnants of Austria's fascist past, which she portrays

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The Feminist Encyclopedia of German Literature
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Contents v
  • Preface vii
  • A 1
  • B 37
  • C 61
  • D 83
  • E 105
  • F 139
  • G 195
  • H 229
  • I 253
  • J 263
  • K 271
  • L 275
  • M 293
  • N 345
  • O 375
  • P 383
  • Q 429
  • R 431
  • S 465
  • T 515
  • U 531
  • V 537
  • W 553
  • Y 579
  • Z 581
  • Appendix of Names 587
  • Index 637
  • Contributors 673
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