Austria, Britain, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Poland and the United States
Edited By Mirosława Buchholtz and Grzegorz Koneczniak
Eccentric Contemporaneity: Gustav Meyrink’s Views on the Great War
Gustav Meyrink’s (1868–1932) consideration for contemporary affairs, commonly regarded as a specific feature of his literary oeuvre, is an ambiguous subject. This was most brilliantly pointed out by Karl Kraus, who recognized in Meyrink an affection for Buddhism combined with an aversion to the Austrian infantry (Kraus 1906). The opposition of escapism and engagement, as it appears in the juxtaposition expressed in the statement above, will be addressed in the present essay (German version was presented at a conference in Toruń – see footnote 1 on p. 127). Meyrink’s WWI-related works are going to be examined in order to determine how they deal with the global military conflict, and to define the nature of the historical consciousness underlying the war images and attitudes they evoke. This research problem has not yet been systematically explored. The only study which examines at length Meyrink’s ‘war stories’ (Meister 1987: 173–208) concentrates on the integration of the writer’s war-views into his occultist system of belief, with only a marginal mention of the historical context (for the explicit announcement of that setting of priorities, cf. Meister 1987: 179). A separate chapter by Mitchell (2008: 155–182), devoted entirely to Meyrink and World War I, is of informative, rather than analytical, character.
Prelude in “Serajewo”
The first text to be analysed is the short story “The Storming of Sarajevo” (“Die Erstürmung von Serajewo”), published in March of 1908 in the popular semimonthly called März (cf. Aster 1980:...
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