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World War I from Local Perspectives: History, Literature and Visual Arts

Austria, Britain, Croatia, France, Germany, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Poland and the United States


Edited By Mirosława Buchholtz and Grzegorz Koneczniak

The volume explores the ways in which the Great War has been remembered and imaged in various local accounts. It provides careful readings of a wide range of sources: letters exchanged by Henry James and Burgess Noakes, spoken accounts of the Old Believers of the Russian Orthodox Church, historical documents concerning Eastern Europe and the United States, travel writings by Fritz Wertheimer, Hermann Struck, and Herbert Eulenberg, literary texts by Lord Dunsany, Miroslav Krleža, and Gustav Meyrink, theater performances in Italy and Ireland and visual arts: masks for facially disfigured soldiers made by Francis Derwent Wood and Anna Coleman Ladd.
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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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