Trans Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften 16. Nr. Februar 2006

5.2. Innovation and Reproduction in Austrian Literature and Film
Herausgeber | Editor | Éditeur: Donald G. Daviau (University of California/Wien)

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

Report: Innovation and Reproduction in Austrian Literature and Film

Donald G. Daviau (University of California/Kirchberg am Wechsel)


The aim of this section was to illustrate the theme of the conference - Innovations and Reproductions in Society and Culture - with examples from Austrian literature and film, which are well suited to this purpose. Every culture develops through the alternation of innovation and change followed by the reproduction of the new tendencies to spread them widely and finally to create a tradition, a heritage, for their preservation.

The section was originally slated to have 24 participants, but the usual problems of obtaining funding, of the schedule conflicting with final examinations in many U.S. universities, of other unexpected professional obligations and of personal difficulties, the number was reduced to half. Nevertheless, since the topic is such a rich one, we enjoyed a productive session. To show that something good can result from something bad, the time that was gained by having fewer participants meant that every speaker could present his or her paper in full with ample time for full discussion.

In the following I will attempt to provide a brief overview of the contributions, which should be of interest to anyone involved with Austrian literature and film.

In his paper, "'Das Sittliche setzt das Natürliche voraus. 'Innozenz oder Sinn und Fluch derUnschuld - A Religious Novel?'," Jörg Thunecke provides an insightful interpretation of A. P. Güterloh's complex and controversial novel to argue that it should be considered a theological rather than a religious novel. He bases this view on the fact that this innovative work differs from the standard religious novel, such as those by Franz Werfel, Werner Bergengruen and Elisabeth Langgässer, which follow the customary practice of the genre to put the religious problems into historical contexts.

In "Reproducing the Past? Alois Brandstetter's Critique of Contemporary Austria through a Medieval Mindset," Paul Dvorak focuses on Die Burg and Hier kocht der Wirt to show how the author, a professor of German philology, strives to draw the reader back to a lost level of meaning and understanding of the medieval past to reproduce a deeper, more genuine condition than that which he experiences within contemporary Austrian and Western Society.

Todd C. Hanlin's paper, "Paulus Hochgatterer: Apostle to the Youth Culture," explicates this author's innovative literary approach in his novels Wildwasser, Caretta Caretta and Über Raben, which, while following the tradition of the 'school novel,' is dedicated to portraying his youthful protagonists in their contemporary milieu, in school and at their leisure, as they suffer the trials and tribulations of growing up in a consumer society. As a child psychologist, the author is constantly confronted with young people who are troubled because of their preoccupation and even identification with consumer name-brand fads and fashions. The presentation concludes with such open questions as whether future generations of readers will ignore these writings when they no longer know what these brand names mean, or whether these novels of adolescence will become time capsules, creating nostalgia among readers for a by-gone era?

Gerlinde Ulm Sanford's contribution, "Goran Rebic's 'Donau, Duna, Dunaj .…' The River as Symbol for Unity and Diversity," examines this ambitious, socially-minded film which is intended to demonstrate how different nations with different languages can develop harmonious relationships. The passengers taking a boat trip on the Danube through various landscapes and nations to the Black Sea all undergo some kind of identity change in the course of the voyage. The filmmaker's goal was to try to overcome Western fear of the Orient and to end the demonizing of the East. The paper explicates the film to show how well Rebic succeeded in achieving his worthy goal both theoretically and artistically.

In "'…und der REIGEN erlebt eine kaninchenartige Fortsetzung': Schnitzlers Dialogreihe in Parodien, Adaptionen und Neugestaltungen" Gerd K. Schneider examines the numerous works, which have imitated or parodied this text. To date he has located 20 versions in German along with 5 films and 7 variations in English as well as 6 films. His presentation included the examination of 4 of the works to give an idea of the treatment or mistreatment to which Schnitzler's masterpiece has been subjected. He plans to publish all of these texts, some of them extremely rare, in a forthcoming book.

Annette Daigger also dealt with film in her presentation "Michael Haneckes filmische Annäherung an Joseph Roths Roman Die Rebellion." On the basis of her analysis, she shows how this award-winning filmmaker utilizes his idiosyncratic style in transforming the novel into a film for television in 1993.

Helga Schreckenberger's presentation, "An Austrian Version of the nouveau roman: Helga Glantschnig's Novels Wider Willen (1992) and Mirnock (1997), shows how the French nouveau roman became the defining force in this Austrian author's development. By analyzing the parallels between the French nouveau roman and Glantschnig's novels, she demonstrates how the latter's works reflect many of the theoretical and artistic objectives of the French movement. At the same time, the paper also points out the innovative aspects of these texts, namely, Glantschnig's transformation of real-life experiences into avant-garde language.

In "Toxic Parental Music in Grillparzer, Joseph Roth and Jelinek" Pamela S. Saur illustrates how these three major Austrian authors from different generations have all authored texts in three distinctly different styles which, nevertheless all have the same theme and purpose: using music as a major testing ground, these works portray young protagonists who fail disgracefully in crucial recitals and are victimized by harsh parents representing Austrian culture. These prose writings reflect how literature, even by established authors, involves constant interplay between innovation and reproduction, cherishing and rebelling against one's society and traditions.

Francis Michael Sharp's presentation, "Doron Rabinovici's Ohnehin: Selective Memory and Multiple Pasts," focuses on this recent novel, with additional reference to the author's other writings, to demonstrate how the author reflects the dichotomy between past and present which permeates the cultural society of contemporary Vienna. Rabinovici calls forth images of Freud's Vienna as well as of the more recent inglorious past of the Holocaust to contrast with the present-day reality. In addition, he also suggests in the novel the newly 'innovative' contemporary relationship between the Austrians and their multicultural minorities.

Nikolaus Unger in "Two 'Good Europeans': Nietzschean Innovation in the Life and Thought of Hermann Bahr and Stefan Zweig" examines how these two Austrian writers benefited from the philosopher's ideas. Both belonged to the earliest Nietzcheaner, and, as this paper shows, both show the reception of his thought in their writings. Of particular importance the investigation shows Bahr's relationship to Nietzsche's philosophy through his social connections at the University of Vienna and discusses newly researched evidence from Zweig 's correspondence with Elizabeth Forster-Nietzsche before the First World War. Through the examples of these two authors, the paper demonstrates the remarkable importance of Nietzsche's views on German nationalism and Europe to the life and work of two influential Austrian authors.

Donald G. Daviau in "The Innovation and Reproduction of Turn-of-the-Century Viennese Modernity," is intended to document the role of Vienna, primarily through the efforts of Hermann Bahr, Arthur Schnitzler, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Gustav Klimt and the Secession, in gathering the newest artistic tendencies from all of the Western countries to develop the movement known as modernity, one of the greatest and most widespread artistic and social advances in human history. Modernity is a European movement, which came to full flowering in Vienna because of the unique circumstances there. This contribution shows how Vienna acted as a magnet for writers and journalists from the Eastern countries, and how they, in turn, brought these new artistic and social trends to their various countries, resulting in a rare instance of writers and artists influencing their societies. Because of this acceptance of European modernity, the Eastern and Southeastern countries all became oriented toward the West rather than to the East, culminating in their readiness to join the European Union.

All in all the section was both stimulating and informative.

© Donald G. Daviau (University of California/Kirchberg am Wechsel)

5.2. Innovation and Reproduction in Austrian Literature and Film

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Donald G. Daviau (University of California/Wien): Report: Innovation and Reproduction in Austrian Literature and Film. In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 16/2005. WWW:

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