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

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

Dokumentation | Documentation | Documentation

Reproducing the Past? Alois Brandstetter’s Critique of Contemporary Austria through a Medieval Mindsetindset

Paul F. Dvorak (Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond)


The majority of Alois Brandstetter’s narrative texts, which include semi-autobiographical, reflective works, fictional novels, essays and short prose pieces are set predominantly in Austria’s provinces of Oberösterreich and Kärnten and reveal the author’s intimate relationship to the people, culture, and history of these regions. Brandstetter’s connection to his roots invites comparisons to such writers as Adalbert Stifter, Karl Heinrich Waggerl, Peter Rosegger, and even Peter Altenberg as he crafts his works in the tradition of Austrian Heimatliteratur.(1) Yet beyond the broader parameters of his association with this Austrian tradition, another characteristic ties him to an even more distant past. As a medievalist, Brandstetter draws extensively upon his professional background in portraying through style and content a Weltanschauung that reflects not only his intimate familiarity with his provincial homeland and its Catholic foundations but also his proclivities toward the literary and linguistic traditions of Western civilization, especially those of its Germanic heritage. The author’s predilection for linguistic analysis as well as for manipulating language’s power of connotative suggestiveness characterize a body of work expressing a value system rooted in a distant past.

With a "sprachkritische Wachsamkeit"(2) and through a cadre of doting, pedantic, and somewhat misfit protagonists, Brandstetter strives to engender an appreciation for what he considers a deeper, more genuine human experience than that encountered within contemporary Austrian society. The distant past, though admittedly flawed and fraught with danger, suffering, and death, is nevertheless viewed as displaying more genuinely human qualities in its integration of the polarities of life experiences and thus as offering a viable counterbalance to the numerous dehumanizing elements of contemporary modern-day society. Furthermore, Brandstetter’s exploration of the linguistic origins of modern-day German serves to draw the reader back to a conscious level of meaning and understanding that is frequently overlooked by contemporary society, if not lost amidst its intellectual indifference and materialistic ego-centrism. Through his narrative voices Brandstetter provides insight not only into the world of homo austriacus but also into a contemporary Western society, whose excesses are most frequently identified with what he labels "Amerikanismus," i.e., American consumerism and mass culture. In attempting to satisfy the needs of the mind and spirit rather than just the wants of the body to fill its stomach and surround itself with creature comforts,(3) Brandstetter’s work strives to kindle and re-kindle what he considers to be the essential component of all good writing: "eine Besinnung auf das Humane" (Ärgernis 430).

Within the ranks of recent generations of Austrian authors, Brandstetter’s generally restrained voice has often been drowned out by the more prominent and aggressive socio-political refrains of his more visible fellow countrymen. Nevertheless, the predilection for verbosity and repetition Brandstetter shares with Thomas Bernhard, for example, and his preoccupation with linguistic analysis and the relationship among language, meaning, and reality establish his rightful place within the long lineage of Austrian authors that can be traced back to the Baroque and to Hofmannsthal and fin-de-siècle obsession with Schein und Sein.

In the approximately twenty-five books and collections he has published since the late 1960s, Brandstetter incorporates didactic or teaching moments that are immutably tied to his conservative value system. Viewed as a "menschenfreundliche Angelegenheit" (Ärgernis 425), Brandstetter’s storytelling ("Erzählen") creates an essentially non-threatening experience for his readers, who can react with calm appreciation to his gentle criticism and proddings with its characteristic humorous twists, irony, and turns of phrase and its avoidance of the aggressive social critique and somber tone prevalent in the works of so many of contemporaries such as Jelinek, Turrini, Kroetz, and Bernhard. It is this non-threatening framework that in part connects him to Stifter and his "sanftes Gesetz." Moreover, Brandstetter’s self-effacing style and incorporation of personal qualities in his texts substantiates the image of a benign author who allows himself to be subjected to the same level of critical analysis that his main characters direct at society. Despite the strong dose of didacticism and overbearance that characterizes a number of his better-known narrators, Brandstetter remains fixed on his goal of writing "schöne Bücher." He states: "Wer etwas schöner beschreibt, als es ist, und wer das gut beschreiben kann, in dieser beschönigenden-unter Anführungszeichen-Art, der sagt ja auch etwas über den eher schlechten Status Quo."(4)

To illustrate Brandstetter’s reliance on the past as the foundation of his value system, I will refer primarily to the two novels: Die Burg (1986) and Hier kocht der Wirt (1995).(5) Brandstetter’s narrative voices in both works provide a useful starting point for exploring more fully the basic elements of his style. As in many of Brandstetter’s texts, both Arthur in Die Burg and Peter Glandschnig in Hier kocht der Wirt are first-person narrators with considerable autobiographical markings. Characteristic of his narrators in general, both Arthur and Peter are erudite, astute, highly opinionated exponents and defenders of traditional cultural and religious values. Both of Brandstetter’s narrators speak and weave their tales from positions of authority; they are neither ambiguous nor tentative as they shuffle the reader back and forth through a myriad of detail that seemingly obscures the ultimate goal along the way.

For the most part, Brandstetter’s two narrators appear to be reliable conveyors of information and speak as if from the collective unconscious of history, culture, and tradition, even though the reader readily recognizes Arthur’s distinct vulnerability and insecurity vis-à-vis his professional colleagues and modern-day society and the contrasting self-assured innkeeper’s overbearing dissertations from the sheltered isolation of his isolated Upper Carinthian hamlet. The specious and contradictory points of view both narrators occasionally espouse add substance to the "gamesmanship" that Brandstetter engages in with his reader. The constant back and forth discourse between Brandstetter’s narrators and his readers delineates a central component of his literary work.

When on their own turf, Brandstetter’s narrative personae are hardly shy, withdrawn, or reticent; rather, they invariably exhibit a strong dose of Besserwisserei. In the case of Arthur, this fact is revealed through his internally expressed sense of values as a professor of medieval literature among progressive colleagues. In the case of Peter Glandschnig, the Besserwisserei is externalized as the innkeeper exercises his hold over the Viennese art aficionado, who has traveled to the innkeeper’s small town to view the frescoes of the late medieval artist, Thomas of Gerlamoos. Neither Arthur nor Peter harbor any doubts about the ultimate rectitude of their strongly held conservative standpoints. Arthur’s opinions and point of view are conveyed mostly through the first-person narrator’s own interior thought processes and not through direct interaction with other narrative voices or characters, although, by exception, Arthur’s wife, Ginover, does play a visible role as foil and counterweight to her husband’s entrenched position. In the case of the innkeeper Peter, by contrast, it is the Viennese visitor who bears the brunt of the innkeeper’s verbal barrage as Peter circuitously outlines his perspectives on life and art. Peter contends that his ramblings are all interrelated ("Es hängt alles zusammen" [Wirt 126]), while the Viennese visitor cries out of frustration at the innkeeper’s verbal onslaught on themes touching not only on art, but also on food, the shortage of priests, government regulations, environmental issues, and countless other topics. The Viennese visitor’s question: "Was hat denn das alles miteinander zu tun? (Wirt 126) and his pleading to be spared further delay in gaining access to the church housing the frescoes ("Bitte, verschonen Sie mich mit Ihrer Predigt" [Wirt 106]) fall ineffectually upon deaf ears. In sum, these two interminably long-winded narrators entangle the reader in a labyrinth of detail and tangential minutiae from which there appears to be no escape and no clear-cut objective. If it were not for the absence of vitriolic invective, they would bear quite similar resemblance to many of Thomas Bernhard’s narrative personae.

In both novels, however, it is the reader him- or herself who must react to the main characters’ verbal meanderings and who therefore must engage in the dialogic "gamesmanship" with the author. The modern reader, though clearly cognizant of the fact that these two narrative figures are highly out of sync with contemporary life and at times even laughably anachronistic, can also simultaneously relish and delight in the idealistic naïveté of their points of view and empathize with their nostalgic longing for a simpler, more humane lifestyle.

In his commentary on one of Brandstetter’s most popular works, Die Abtei, Peter Firchow argues that Police Inspector Einberger’s narrative stance as a lamenting Jeremiah places him beyond "the herd of orthodox ‘outsiders.’"(6) Similarly, Arthur and Peter avow philosophical positions that are distinctly their own. Thus, by creating characters who are not identified with any particular contemporary group or agenda, Brandstetter forces the reader to look at them and what they represent critically and not just as polemical Cassandras with a specific political or social agenda. Though he engenders a good measure of sympathy for his main characters through his narrative techniques, Brandstetter concomitantly reveals the potential flaws in their positions and repeatedly compels his readers to draw their own conclusions from the reciprocal gamesmanship in which he engages them.

Firchow’s comments with regard to Die Abtei are relevant to the two novels in question here in another context as well. He establishes a functional relationship between Brandstetter’s digressions and the role similar digressions fulfilled in medieval epic literature, where their purpose was to "reveal the absolutely sovereign power (or, literally, authority) of an author able to dispose of his characters and story in whatever way he chose"(Firchow 209). "[T]he author himself has disappeared from his fiction, to be replaced by what has variously come to be called a persona, or a dramatized or focalized narrator, that is, a character who tells the story and who is often or even usually himself an ‘actor’ in it"(Firchow 209-10). Like Bernhard, who once quipped, "Sehe ich hinter dem Hügel eine Handlung auftauchen, schieβe ich sie sofort ab,"(7) Brandstetter amasses detail upon detail, observation upon observation, as his narrative works meander through a never-ending series of "episodes" linked solely by the associative thought processes of the narrator. In his work Brandstetter thus shuns traditional plot development quite emphatically. Plot becomes a mere artifice and not the central component of the narrative; it is viewed as merely an invented structure that holds the disparate narrative parts together.

Within this framework it is perhaps understandable that Stifter, whom many have demonized as the most boring storyteller imaginable, represents for Brandstetter the prototype of a story-teller ("der prototypische Erzähler").(8) The artistic product resulting from these narrative components produces a highly intertextual genre of writing that further promotes the game being played out between author and reader. Like Ernst Jandl, Brandstetter considers every text to be a text about another text. In his interview with Landa, Brandstetter illustrated this penchant by citing the intertextuality between the life of the peasant farmers in Wernher der Gaertenere’s Meier Helmbrecht and his own childhood and life experiences, as recounted in his book Kleine Menschenkunde (Landa 71). Brandstetter’s most recent publication, Der geborene Gärtner (2005), continues his involvement with these particular relationships. In the two particular novels under discussion here, the intertextuality is initiated with the naming of the two main characters. Arthur, juxtaposed to his wife Ginover, conjures up associations with Arthurian legend, while Peter the innkeeper and church custodian recalls St. Peter’s role as father of the Roman Church, defender of Christianity, and keeper of the keys to the Kingdom. The concept of "nomen est omen" ("der Name sagt alles"), is a prevalent characteristic in many of Brandstetter’s works that conjoins the written word with its etymological rootedness in reality and cultural heritage.

At this point a more thorough description of the content of the two novels is in order. Die Burg is as monumental a work as the massive fortification that gives it its title. With its denotative and connotative incarnations, the castle conjures up images of Carinthia’s landmark Hochosterwitz. Brandstetter’s self-styled narrator, Arthur, is a budding, serious-minded university professor of medieval literature who bemoans the loss of understanding of and appreciation for the past. He takes the reader on a wide-ranging journey through his travails of attempting to establish academic credibility among his senior professorial colleagues, who are decidedly disinclined to acknowledge the slightest current-day relevancy of his chosen field of study. In his attempts to justify his own position, Arthur is not immune to occasional self-deprecating remarks or ones directed at his ever-dwindling cohort of fellow medievalists. With irony and humor, for example, he benignly mocks fellow scholars researching the Middle Ages as sedentary academics who are unable to even saddle a horse and who are totally inept at any of the physical activities with which a knight would have been routinely engaged.

Juxtaposed to Arthur’s stressful professional life are his familial circumstances as the married father of two young sons living in relatively cramped quarters. These complex professional and personal constellations become symptomatic of Arthur’s life in general; his idiosyncratic mindset is constantly challenged by the apparent advances of contemporary society. The emblematic symbol of the clash of ideologies becomes Arthur’s older son’s favorite toy, a Playmobil model of a medieval castle analogous to the Western cowboy ranch sets popular among American boys in the 1950s. The toy’s multiple parts and figures invariably find themselves strewn about the family’s modest living space and impinge upon Arthur’s ability to engage undistractedly in his academic research as a medievalist. The "perpetuum playmobile," as Brandstetter coins it, provides the son Georg the opportunity to engage ad infinitum at war and knights, to create and recreate, to shape and adapt, to learn from the past and to be misled by contemporary society’s values. Thus the toy is both boon and bane: it introduces the son to elements of history and culture dear to the father’s heart but simultaneously distorts reality and comes to symbolize modern-day consumerism, cultural indiscriminateness, and shallowness. From its location in the house the toy intrudes upon Arthur’s (Brandstetter’s) profession as writer and professor. This very real everyday conflict as well as the broader culturally symbolic implications surrounding the toy undergird the entire novel as Brandstetter’s narrator defines himself as father, writer, husband, professor, medievalist, conservative, and Catholic against the ravages, distortions, and cultural and spiritual inroads of the modern age. Arthur’s writing desk has been appropriated as the repository of the boy’s toy. The plastic playset of his son carries the theme forward-its artificial parts and "super-sized" expansiveness fly in the face of Arthur’s conception of the medieval castle as an organic, living part of nature built right into the side of a hill or mountain.

The connection between this narrative scene and the work’s title is further illuminated by the recounting of the family outing to the unnamed Burg. For Arthur the outing represents a vicarious trip into the past, but the transmigration is spoiled by the encroachment of modern, consumer society upon the sacred landscape the castle occupies. The din of a nearby motocross race defiles the hallowed ground upon which Arthur treads; the environment surrounding this superb example of medieval fortresses is both marred and scarred, audibly by the constant revving of motors and visually by the deep ruts the motorcycles leave behind in their tracks. And yet, as Arthur’s wife expounds, the racing motorcycles are the modern-day equivalent of medieval knights jousting on horseback.(9) The association of the historical Burg with the toy replica and contemporary society’s "sacrilegious" behavior in the serene castle surroundings allows Brandstetter through Arthur to lay out his central themes for the reader. Arthur’s struggles in all aspects of his life parody intertextually the adventures of his namesake in the Arthurian legends.

In his profession as an underappreciated member of a progressive-minded university faculty, in his daily family battle to balance his role as husband, father, and breadwinner, in his misaligned relationship with the consumerism and short-sightedness of contemporary society, Arthur engages in struggles at least loosely similar to those of his author. Arthur points out clearly the foibles of contemporary society and puts himself on the side on "liberal" environmentalists, for example, who see nature being increasingly desecrated and destroyed by chemicals, pollution, artificial substances, etc. To Arthur’s mind, a little bit of dirt, a natural product and derivative of the earth itself, is preferable to the man-made, non-bio-degradable contamination of exhaust fumes from motorcycles and the refuse of plastic containers littering the landscape. Arthur’s practical, level-headed wife, Ginover, serves as a counterweight to the pedantic, serious, moody, misfit husband as she repeatedly and calmly attempts to help him accept a world view that can coexist with these contradictions. Though herself a highly literate individual, a librarian by profession, Ginover is more skillfully able to navigate the stormy waters of conflict between past and present than is her husband. She calmly positions herself to decipher the good and the bad in both the past and the present. By contrast, her husband broods much deeply and incessantly over the loss of his beloved medieval past and over the distortions and corruptions of values in present-day society that have displaced it. In the end, Arthur remains teetering on the edge between his inherent inclination towards a simpler, more genuine (human) existence grounded in his medieval world and the somewhat grudgingly accepted recognition that dominant contemporary societal values have supplanted, if not replaced, those more dear to his heart.

A similar pattern emerges in Hier kocht der Wirt. However, unlike the formally educated university professor Arthur, Peter Glandschnig is self-educated. What he lacks in formal education, he makes up for with his very detailed acquired knowledge of the art and history of Thomas of Gerlamoos, whose culturally significant but relatively obscure murals are contained in the Late Gothic church in the Drau Valley to which he controls access. Glandschnig’s overbearing Besserwisserei pervades the narrative as the art aficionado from Vienna attempts to gain admittance to the Church of St. George to which only the innkeeper holds the key. Like the famous flood and mudslide of 1993 that inundated the Carinthian landscape and defines the limits of the historical memory of a culturally challenged contemporary society, Glandschnig overpowers his Viennese visitor, and the reader, with a deluge of information about the region and specifically about the frescoes of the famous artist, which he considers to be the area’s essential claim to fame. When the novel reaches its conclusion, the exasperated visitor abandons his original goal. Intertextually one can readily recall Kafka’s doorkeeper and the futile attempts of the "Mann vom Lande" to gain admittance to the Law.

For Peter, "Die Sprache ... ist das Gedächtnis der Menschen" (Wirt 29). Language is both conscience and memory. Brandstetter unearths for the modern reader some of the memory that is associated with so many of the phrases, sayings, and idioms common in contemporary German, often without its users’ understanding of their origins or actual denotations. For Brandstetter, "Die Arten sterben vor den Redensarten aus" (Wirt 29) and his task as writer is to recapture this lost linguistic past by compelling the reader to consider the etymological bases of words, phrases, and expressions. In one of the few truly politically charged topics that Brandstetter addresses, Peter refers to Austrian ignorance and/or unwillingness to come to terms with its relationship to National Socialism, when he laments that people are not aware of their own history (Wirt 56), as in the case of Upper Austrians with regard to Mauthausen. Too frequently people overlook the significant historical and cultural content and power of the language they utilize very indifferently in their daily lives. For the innkeeper the populace’s widespread familiarity with the mudslides of 1993 in the area but its total ignorance of Thomas’s art and its history represents but one example.

The various connotations and associations of the title of the novel itself present insight into its overall theme and structure. On a literal level of course, the innkeeper cooks and prepares the food at his inn. On another level, by virtue of being the cook he establishes himself as the one in charge not only of the inn and its kitchen, but also by extension of the church of which he is custodian and of the narrative text that he dominates. By controlling the church keys, he determines who is permitted to enter the church and view Thomas’s art. The narrative itself is the product of Peter’s "cooking." The "dish" ("Gericht") that results is the product of the "ingredients" he puts into his recipe. The novel’s content is formed from the basic components of his choosing and is spiced and flavored further with the distinct idiosyncrasies of his opinions and personality. The Kärntner Ritschert, an Eintopf made with barley, beans, and smoked pork, that the innkeeper favors is a reflection of his values and beliefs. The reader/guest/eater can choose to consume it or not, but what appears on the menu both culinarily and literarily is totally of his choosing. Peter informs his Viennese guest that he cannot serve him Wiener Schnitzel because such a dish does not fit ("paβt nicht") the cultural and traditional setting of Carinthia. Once again Brandstetter has created a narrative text that allows him to infuse a fictional text with his values and ideals, with a worldview tied to the Middle Ages, and in a humorous and ironical way confront the world of contemporary Austrian society through the gamesmanship with his readers.

Criticism of the negative impact of modern-day culture on European heritage and tradition is something that crops up repeatedly in Brandstetter’s work. The two primary exponents of these negative influences are identified with America and Vienna. In the case of the former, Brandstetter uses the term "Amerikanismus" to embody his concept of the negative. Prime instances of "Amerikanismus" in Hier kocht der Wirt center on American musicals, "amerikanische[n] Schnellfraβ," and "Werbefritzen." The American "Eintopf" threatens to engulf Europe as well as wipe out the individuality and distinctness of ethnic and cultural minorities, just as the mudslides leveled the physical landscape. For the Wirt, "Amerikanismus" is "wie eine verheerende Mur die alles kaputtmacht" (Wirt 174). This criticism of America allows Brandstetter through his narrator the opportunity to express pride in his Austrian homeland and thus to give shape and substance to his own identity. "Americanismus" threatens this sense of identity and leads to an increasing sense of "Identitätsverlust." (Wirt 181). It also affords Brandstetter the chance to defend "Interkulturalität," something that for him begins "bei der eigenen Kultur" (Wirt 181).

In the other instance it is Vienna and the Viennese that embody the countervailing forces to his Upper Austrian and Carinthian homeland. We have already seen this later theme presented in the person of the Viennese art aficionado and in the preference for Kärntner Ritschert over Wiener Schnitzel. The innkeeper’s repeated cry of "Wien ist weit!" (Wirt 7) resonates on similar levels as well. The capital’s metropolitanism is in fact a different culture from that of the rural countryside of Oberösterreich and Kärnten. The lifestyle is different-far-removed from the sophistication and materialism of the capital with its monuments of grandeur and mondaine accoutrements. The Autobahn that connects Vienna with Salzburg and the south is seen as an extension of Viennese predominance in Austrian life. Vienna’s Kärntnerstraβe with its haute culture is hardly reflective of the simpler life in Carinthia. Vienna’s centrality is far-removed from the life of the out-of-the-mainstream village (Wirt 81).

In these and in other works digressions into linguistic analysis allow Brandstetter to further substantiate the ways in which modern society has strayed from the straight and narrow path that ties it to its roots. Brandstetter’s narrators strive to bring society back to the core-to core values, morals, and ideals. Brandstetter’s carefully crafted investigations of the etymological roots of words provides him another means of understanding one’s identity. In another of his works, Die Mühle (1981), Brandstetter writes: "Ich liebe die sogenannten ‘etymologischen Figuren’, Rede- und Schreibfiguren, in denen Wörter aus einer Wurzel und somit Mitglieder einer ‘Familie’ auftreten. Und wie verschieden, wie merkwürdig ungleich können selbst Brüder sein!"(10)

Arthur relies upon sayings and proverbs to make his arguments and score points. An interesting episode deals with his relationship to the student revolts of the 1960s. As a conservative, reactionary, and pacificist, he seems an unlikely supporter of the radical student actions taking place. Brandstetter reworks the image of a "Wolf im Schafspelz" into the more accurate image of a "Schaf im Wolfspelz." An illustration of Brandstetter’s ability to apply and adapt linguistic common phrases to transform them to more accurate images while preserving the connection with the culturally known and commonplace. Arthur retains his conservative nature but prances about as the violent, aggressive wolf.

Unfortunately for Arthur, as we have seen, Wien ist nicht so weit-modern pop culture has in fact invaded both the landscape and the university where Arthur teaches and "professes."

Throughout Brandstetter’s work it is easy to see how humor and irony play central roles in the narrative structures. The seriously recounted ramblings of the professor and the innkeeper engender a sense of the whimsical as the reader calculates his own distance from what is being conveyed. Though the reader may be amused by the obsessive, persistent, "imposing" views of the narrator, he ironically may also come to look beyond the obvious character flaws of the narrators and come to appreciate the position they represent.

At the core of Brandstetter’s intent is the goal of keeping the past alive. As Arthur’s situation depicts, the prospects appear increasingly slim. The forces of modern civilization seem overpowering in the face mass consumerism. Ironically, even the apparently impenetrable and impregnable Burg are being laid waste in the contemporary environment. Peter, too, attempts to preserve the past as he alone is the keeper of the keys to the church housing the frescoes. Famous though they are in the eyes of true curators of the past, they are totally absent from the mindset of the overwhelming masses of contemporary society.

A few lines from the innkeeper about his persistence and tireless provocation offer a fitting conclusion. As he explores the casual unconcern expressed in the phrase "es ist mir wurst" and the gastronomical manifestations of "Wurst" he as cook might prepare: "Manchmal denke ich mir, daβ ich ein rechter Narr gewesen bin, weil ich mich über so vieles geärgert und aufgeregt habe. Ich hätte schon früher den Wurstigkeits-standpunkt einnehmen sollen, dann hätte ich mir viel Ärger erspart" (Wirt 241). But, as for Brandstetter, there is no possibility that the innkeeper will abandon his ways. Through his narrators Brandstetter frames his own personal struggle to keep the past alive, a struggle he never abandons, but he mitigates the seriousness of his concerns about modern civilization by the use of irony and humor. In doing so, Brandstetter’s writing truly becomes "eine menschenfreundliche Gelegenheit."

© Paul F. Dvorak (Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond


(1) See "Vom Ärgernis des Erzählens. Ein Nachwort" in Österreichische Erzählungen des 20. Jahrhunderts, hrsg. Alois Brandstetter (Salzburg und Wien: Residenz Verlag, 1984).

(2) Brandstetter has been described as "eine Mischung von Peter Rosegger and Karl Kraus." See "Vom Ärgernis des Erzählens," 430.

(3) This point is ironically driven home in Brandstetter’s So wahr ich Feuerbach heiβe (1988). The first-person narrator, Primus Feuerbach, is a librarian in a mid-size town in tiny Austria. As the narrative begins, Primus recounts a trip to big brother West Germany during the 1960s in order to learn more about current librarian practices. What he discovers instead of "Nahrung des Geistes" is an inordinate interest of his fellow professionals in "Nahrung" per se. They spend considerably more time deciding on where and what to eat than on their actual work.

(4) Jutta Landa, "Ein Dichter der kultivierten Langeweile?" Modern Austrian Literature 25, no. 2, 1992, 73.

(5) Alois Brandstetter, Die Burg (Salzburg und Wien: Residenz Verlag, 1986) and Hier kocht der Wirt (Salzburg und Wien: Residenz Verlag, 1995).

(6) Peter Firchow, Afterword to Alois Brandstetter, The Abbey, trans. Peter and Evelyn Firchow (Riverside: Ariadne Press, 1998), 206.

(7) See Vom Manne aus Pichl, hrsg. Egyd Gstättner (Salzburg und Wien: Residenz Verlag, 1998), 5.

(8) Alois Brandstetter, Kleine Menschenkunde (Salzburg und Wien: Residenz Verlag, 1987), 81.

(9) In this association of modern figures with their medieval counterparts, Brandstetter’s descriptions foreshadow much of Michael Köhlmeier’s more recent recreations of Greek mythology in modern-day garb.

(10) Alois Brandstetter, Die Mühle (Salzburg und Wien: Residenz Verlag, 1981), 85.

5.2. Innovation and Reproduction in Austrian Literature and Film

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For quotation purposes:
Paul F. Dvorak (Virginia Commonwealth University, Richmond): Reproducing the Past? Alois Brandstetter’s Critique of Contemporary Austria through a Medieval Mindset. In: TRANS. Internet-Zeitschrift für Kulturwissenschaften. No. 16/2005. WWW:

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