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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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15 Blurring Fiction with Reality: Robert Schindel’s comédie humaine of 1980s Vienna in Gebürtig and Der Kalte (Joseph W. Moser)

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JOSEPH W. MOSER

15 Blurring Fiction with Reality: Robert Schindel’s comédie humaine of 1980s Vienna in Gebürtig and Der Kalte

ABSTRACT

In his novels Gebürtig (1992) and Der Kalte (2013), Robert Schindel created a Balzacian comédie humaine of a diverse set of fictional characters, some of whom are recognizable as actual historical figures, who continue from his first novel to the latter. In Der Kalte, Schindel fictionalizes the Waldheim Affair. However, it is not just the big players in 1980s political and cultural Viennese history that draw the attention of the reader, but also less famous characters such as Auschwitz survivor Fraul and Rosinger, a perpetrator from Auschwitz, who start talking about the past. This chapter examines how Schindel’s characters, some fictional, some drawn from real life, uncover Austria’s historical lie of being the first victim of Hitler’s aggression and how these interactions – much like the actual historical events in the 1980s – propelled Austria from denying its role in the Holocaust to accepting more responsibility and striving for greater historical transparency.

In his novels Gebürtig (1992) [Born-Where (1995)] and Der Kalte (2013) [The Cold One], Robert Schindel created a diverse set of fictional characters, some of whom are recognizable as actual historical figures, and who are interlinked from his first novel to the latter, thus quite reminiscent of Honoré de Balzac’s comédie humaine.1 Balzac, writing in France in the first half of the...

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