Class, Art, and «Socialism» in Post-War Austria
A Brief Introduction 1
A Brief Introduction This introduction presents the categories I use to examine various aspects of Thomas Bernhard’s work. These categories are not aesthetic, but rather historical, economic and political, which are (in)explicably intertwined. Confronting so vast an oeuvre as Bernhard’s, one naturally neglects a lot. My primary argument is that looking at Bernhard’s work historically helps us to better understand it and to see the extent to which it is a political response to its historical moment.1 I focus on certain topics as crucial to this deeper understanding. At the same time, in investigating these vari- ous aspects of Bernhard’s work, I also hope to provide enough historical background for the reader to profit from the essays. In the four chapters that constitute the book, I discuss topics such as social class, cross-class relationships, the post-war Austrian silence concern- ing the Holocaust, the Nazi-Zeit, the relationship of Bernhard’s work to the Ständestaat, and its connection to its descendent, the social-partnership state. The first chapter, on Bernhard’s “Politische Morgenandacht,” func- tions as a baseline against which we can measure how far – and in which direction – Bernhard travelled in his politics. 1 As I remarked in a mildly intemperate response to one anonymous reader’s criticism of my essay on Alte Meister: “Furthermore, the last thing I want to suggest here is the establishment of a tradition into which to peg Bernhard. Bernhard’s work is most interesting when seen in terms of its ref lection of post-war Austria. When your reader...
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