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Belle Necropolis

Ghosts of Imperial Vienna


Katherine Arens

Since coming to public notice through major museum catalogues and the work of Carl Schorske around 1980, fin de siècle Vienna has been cast as the final bloom of a dying culture. Yet this assessment is itself a historical construct, deriving from the politics of the twentieth century. This volume argues that «Habsburg nostalgia» is anything but backward looking: instead, images from this glittering Habsburg past become evidence of a culture’s sophisticated sense of how and why history is made, in both official and popular spheres. Including the first translation of an original account of Crown Prince Rudolf’s suicide at Mayerling in 1889, Belle Necropolis argues for Austria’s continued reuse of its own history to point the way toward the future rather than simply memorializing a past that only exists as living memories of shared stories, not as a truth in itself. Case studies included here range from imperial stereotypes before 1900 through their adaptations in the film 1. April 2000 and today’s musicals, and from the politics of representing Austria since Rebecca West up through Schorske’s master narrative of the Ringstrasse. Through these studies, Habsburg culture emerges as a culture of commemoration that uses its own past to overcome the limits of a small country seeking a role on the contemporary world stage.
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The series on Austrian Culture provides critical evaluations, in English or German, of Austrian authors, artists, works, currents, or figures from the Middle Ages to the present. Austria is defined as those parts of the old Habsburg empire that produced notable writings in the German language, including Czechoslovakia (Prague) and the Bukovina (Czernowitz). The series offers a forum for the exploration of the multifarious relationships between literature and other aspects of Austrian culture, such as philosophy, music, art, architecture, and the theater. Dissertations and other monograph-length material as well as scholarly translations or editions of outstanding literary works are welcome.

For additional information about this series or for the submission of manuscripts, please contact:

Margarete Lamb-FaffelbergerLafayette CollegeDept. of Foreign Lang. & LiteraturesPardee Hall 433Easton, PA 18042

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