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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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2 ‘You’ll never know the old Vienna’: The Third Man (1949) as Historical Referent in Contemporary Austrian Culture and Literature (Anne-Marie Scholz)

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ANNE-MARIE SCHOLZ

2 ‘You’ll never know the old Vienna’: The Third Man (1949) as Historical Referent in Contemporary Austrian Culture and Literature

ABSTRACT

This chapter explores the ways contemporary Austrian culture relies on images of and from the 1949 British/US co-production The Third Man to promote a certain version of the history of post-war Austria, one that tends to downplay questions of coming to terms with the country’s past (in particular, its relationship to its neighbour, Germany) and instead focuses upon an affiliation with the cultural status of The Third Man as a transnational filmic masterpiece. Additionally, I focus on contemporary references to The Third Man that call this reading into question and instead attempt to illustrate, via parody, satire, or biography, how the film can function as a more problematic historical referent in Austrian culture and society.1

‘I never knew the old Vienna before the war with its Strauss music, its glamour and its easy charm …’ Thus begins the 1949 US/British co-production The Third Man, with the off-camera narrator (it is either the voice of the American Holly Martins (Joseph Cotten) or an anonymous omniscient – and very British – narrator (Carol Reed), depending upon whether you are watching the US or the British version) articulating the up-to-then widespread idealization of Viennese and, by extension, Austrian culture. When The Third Man was released in Austria in March 1950, it was precisely this version of Vienna that was on the...

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