Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 15. Nr. Mai 2004

5.9. Austrian Writers and the Unifying Aspects of Cultures
Herausgeber | Editor | Éditeur: Donald G. Daviau (Riverside)

Buch: Das Verbindende der Kulturen | Book: The Unifying Aspects of Cultures | Livre: Les points communs des cultures

Section Report: Austrian Writers and the Unifying Aspects of Cultures

Donald G. Daviau (Riverside)


The aim of this section was to exemplify the topic of the conference, The Unifying Aspects of Cultures, on the basis of authors who reflected this tendency in their lives and works. 15 scholars from Ireland, Germany, Russia and the United States presented examples of writers who illustrate the principles of transnationalism and multiculturalism in works which are European, if not global in scope. The authors ranged from Nestroy in the 19th century to the contemporary Barbara Frischmuth and Inge Merkel. Although Nestroy is acknowledged as a prime representative of the Austrian identity, he in fact borrowed the plots for many of his works freely from all over Europe. On a much broader basis, Hermann Bahr's program of modernity in the 1890s was based on European-wide developments and trends in literature and the other arts, and this movement, in turn, influenced the modernization of the arts in Central and Southeastern European countries. At the same time Bahr mediated Austrian, German and Central European literature, arts and culture to both Eastern and Western countries. Hermann Broch and György Sebestyen were other examples of authors who tried to build bridges to Central Europe. In most cases the authors traveled widely, sometimes as a result of exile, as in the case of Franz Werfel, W. G. Sebald, Vladimir Vertlieb, and Salka Viertel, all of whom made successful careers in the U.S.A. Along with her success as a screen writer, Salka Viertel turned her home into a salon, which served as a center for the many exiled writers working in Hollywood in the 1940s. The works of some authors like Kafka, Schnitzler and Werfel were international successes. In other cases, authors, like Inge Merkel resurrected classical themes to maintain the past tradition. In other cases, an English writer like John Lehmann crossed borders to describe the rise of National Socialism in Germany as a warning to other countries about this growing menace to world stability. The transnationalism could also extend to literary trends, as in the case Viennese Impressionism, which became an international movement.

These presentations of exceptional examples provide only a small, but representative cross section of the many writers whose lives and works validate the theme of this conference, namely, that literature truly serves in an important way to unify nations.

© Donald G. Daviau (Riverside)

5.9. Austrian Writers and the Unifying Aspects of Cultures

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For quotation purposes:
Donald G. Daviau (Riverside): Section Report: Austrian Writers and the Unifying Aspects of Cultures. In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 15/2003. WWW:

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