Austria Literature from 1945 to 1990

Austria Literature from 1945 to 1990

Coming to terms with participation in or guilt of National Socialism, be it individually or collectively, was initially the exception in Austrian literature immediately after the end of the war, and the war was not a literary subject either. A number of authors kept their domicile abroad, such as Bruckner, J. Améry, the controversial lyricist of the 1968 revolt, E. Fried, and F. Hochwälder, whose plays deal with the immediate past using historical material as an example, and who has been in English-language writer J. Lind.

Among those who returned to Austria from exile were Hilde Spiel, who became an important mediator between English and Austrian literature, as well as H. Weigel and F. Torberg. The cultural atmosphere was initially shaped by anti-communism (so – under the influence of Torberg  - B. Brecht’s plays were not played at the Vienna Burgtheater). The first literarily significant examination of the recent past came from Ilse Aichinger with the novel “The Greater Hope” (1948). Also Csokor, President of the Austrian PEN Club since 1947, worked on his exile experiences in autobiographical writings. M. Dor reflected on the experiences of forced labor and exile, M. Guttenbrunner’s poetry on the front. A critical attitude towards time also characterizes G. Fritsch’s poetry and novels. An attempt at self-critical reappraisal of National Socialist engagement came from A. Bronnen (“a. B. Gives to protocol”, 1954).

The magazines played an important role in the renewal of Austrian literature: “Der Plan” (edited by O. Basil), “Das Silberboot” (edited by E. Schönwiese) and “Wort in der Zeit” (edited by R. Henz; later under the title “Literature and Criticism”). The literary scene was initially organized in Vienna. It was here that those who had returned from exile met the young authors: Ilse Aichinger, G. Fritsch, and Ingeborg Bachmann also began to write here; P. Celan, the cosmopolitan from the German-Jewish milieu of the Romanian Bukovina, published his first volume of poetry in Vienna in 1948 (“The sand from the urns”). The Viennese group was formed between 1952 and 1955: H. C. Artmann, F. Achleitner, K. Bayer, G. Rühm and O. Wiener provoked the public with language experiments of all kinds that also included dialect and belong in the context of concrete poetry. E. Jandl, the main representative of experimental lyric poetry in Austria, picked up on this. In 1958 the Graz Forum Stadtpark, whose magazine »manuskripte«, was established under the leadership A. Kolleritschs, is the most important organ of modern Austrian literature alongside the Salzburg magazine “Literatur und Critique” (since 1960). In February 1973, the “Graz Authors’ Assembly” was founded in Graz, in a demonstrative departure from the PEN Club; almost the entire avant-garde of contemporary Austrian literature joined it.

A characteristic feature of Austrian literature in the first three post-war decades is a high degree of language skepticism and experimentation. Surrealism and Dadaism influenced the Viennese group, the texts by Jandl and Friederike Mayröcker. The younger authors oriented themselves more towards L. Wittgenstein, skepticism against language led to skepticism against society (as in P. Handke, G. Jonke, J. Schutting). As an outstanding poet, Ingeborg Bachmann found her own language. The Catholic literary tradition was a. by Gertrud Fussenegger, Christine Lavant, Erika Mitterer and Christine Busta continued. Existentialist positions determine the work of H. Lebert, a rare example of coming to terms with the past in Austrian literature of the time.

Around the mid-1970s, there were increasing numbers of works with a more direct reference to reality, some with an autobiographical background (G. Wolfgruber, F. Innerhofer, W. Kofler, Brigitte Schwaiger), socially critical novels and others. by W. Kappacher and H. Zenker, but language experiments and language criticism kept a firm place in narrative prose, for example with M. Scharang, Barbara Frischmuth, and also in the satirical novels and stories by A. Brandstetter, P. Henisch and in der sich Texts by G. Amanshauser, which do not allow clear classification . The fallen Danube Monarchy is once again the subject of G. von Rezzoris’ novels and stories . Conventional narrative patterns, on the other hand, are followed by the most commercially successful Austrian writer from the 1960s to the 1990s, the bestselling author J. M. Simmel.

The poetry of the 1970s to 1990s was still dominated by the great names of post-war literature. Your own accents set z. B. René Altmann (* 1929, † 1978) with his sparse, melancholy verses, R. Schindel, who made use of classical forms, and R. Priessnitz, who embedded the experimental spelling in the lyrical traditions.

At the end of the 1960s, W. Bauer was the most successful author in the theater, and his play “Magic Afternoon” (premiered in 1968), which unmasked the emptiness and boredom of the educated middle class, hit the nerve of the time. In the 1970s and 1980s Austrian drama was decisively shaped by T. Bernhard; his bitterly angry pieces vary the themes of death, mental crippling, hopelessness with increasingly satirical traits, v. a. his last, »Heldenplatz« (1988), mercilessly settles with traditional Austrian values. Elfriede Jelinek’s dramas (beginning with “Burgtheater”, 1984) also deal with taboo subjects; Handkes experimental pieces, in turn, revolve around the questionable nature of the medium language as a means of communication. For their socially critical intentions, F. Mitterer and P. Turrini tied in with the Austrian folk piece, with the supposed idyll being brutally undermined. The tradition of cabaret, which practices bitterly angry criticism of the time with a harmless attitude, became congenial after 1945, among other things. continued by G. Kreisler and H. Qualtinger.

According to iamhigher, Austrian literature made a significant contribution to German-language literature with those works in which the real experience of the individual and the free imagination of the narrator merge into artistic and always independent structures and thus try out new attitudes to life as well as new literary possibilities. Examples of this are provided by Handke’s group of works »Slow Homecoming« (1979–81), the novels by G. Roth (»Der Stille Ozean«, 1980) that thematize fear and homeland search, the linguistically extremely imaginative prose by G. Jonke (»Der ferne Klang “, 1979), the melancholy-aggressive novels by P. Rosei (” The Milky Way “, 1981), the essayistic dialogue novels by H. Eisendle (“The Woman on the Border”, 1984), the highly stylized novels by Elfriede Jelinek (“The Piano Player”, 1983), also the novels by W. Muster, the late texts by Ingrid Puganigg (* 1947). Since the beginning of the 1980s, these peculiarities of Austrian literature have been varied under the sign of postmodernism: for example by J. Winkler in his trilogy “Das wilde Kärnten” (1979-82), by C. Ransmayr in his very successful Ovid adaptation “Die last world «(1988). Inge Merkel’s psychologically subtle historical novels are unaffected by the zeitgeist .

Austria Literature from 1945 to 1990

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