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New Perspectives on Contemporary Austrian Literature and Culture

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Edited By Katya Krylova

This volume brings together contributions arising from papers originally presented at the Contemporary Austrian Literature, Film and Culture International Conference held at the University of Nottingham in April 2015. It examines trends in contemporary Austrian literature, film and culture, predominantly over the past thirty years. This period has been one of great transformation in Austrian society, with the Waldheim affair of 1986–1988 marking the beginning of a belated process of confronting the country’s National Socialist past. The sixteen chapters of the volume analyse literary texts, films, memorial projects and Austria’s musical heritage, considering works by cultural practitioners operating both within and outside of Austria. The collection offers a multi-perspectival view on how contemporary Austria sees itself and how it is, in turn, seen by others from various vantage points.

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1 The New Cosmopolitanism in Second Republic Narratives: Revisiting the Vienna–‘Orient’ Connection (Dagmar C. G. Lorenz)

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DAGMAR C. G. LORENZ

1 The New Cosmopolitanism in Second Republic Narratives: Revisiting the Vienna–‘Orient’ Connection

ABSTRACT

After 1945 the topos of the ‘Orient’ re-emerged gradually in Austrian literature. Colonialism, National Socialism, and contemporary conflicts precluded fairy-tale versions of the Arab world. As Wiesenthal researched the Nazi legacy in the Middle East, Bachmann and Szyszkowitz used the Arab sphere as a setting of crime and spy narratives. In Mitgutsch’s Abschied von Jerusalem [Lover, Traitor] and Roth’s Der Strom [The River] Muslim culture represents an arena of Western crises. This chapter examines the interplay of Austrian and Arab viewpoints in exemplary works. Arab writing often defamiliarizes Vienna and the Viennese, as does Cairo-born Eltayeb in his transcultural love story Das Palmenhaus [The Palm House], which contrasts and complements Frischmuth’s Vergiss Ägypten [Forget Egypt], and the preoccupation with language in Insayif’s Faruq shows correspondences with Aichinger and Jelinek. As this chapter demonstrates, these correlations between Austrian Arab and mainstream writing are evidence of an explanding multilayered cosmopolitan culture.

In modern Austrian literature, especially after 1945, shifts in authorial and narrative agency occurred that affected the textual constructions of the Self and the Other in profound ways. The shifts are especially obvious in the representation of the cultural Other, for example, in travel, detective, and adventure literature, but also in the depictions of Austrian society from the perspective of ‘Others’, who assume positions of agency. In ‘Germany’s Other Others: Teaching about...

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