Austria Fictions

By | December 20, 2021

The terrain of fiction is more popular, according to good Austrian custom, and also for this reason more varied, on which many of the authors linked to Graz now move with such reciprocal autonomy as to make the reference to that common denominator only indicatively significant. On the residues of the experimentation, moreover less favored in prose, interests of another kind are established, thematic first of all, as in the case of the aforementioned J. Schutting, who takes up the theme of the dispute between generations anticipating the decline of the father figure (Der Vater, 1980); or H. Eisendle (b.1939), who had ostentatiously started defining himself, alongside G. Roth and G. Jonke, a ‘literary scientist’, Das schweigende Monster, 1981); or B. Frischmuth (b.1941), who repeatedly (Bindungen, 1980; Die Ferienfamilie, 1981; Die Frau im Mond, 1982; Kopftänzer and Herrin der Tiere, 1984; Über die Verhältnisse, 1987) confirms herself as a vigilant observer and even witty about events that are symptomatic of a general malaise; or of Kl. Hoffer (b. 1942), who in the cyclical Bei den Bieresch (1979-83) repeats, also attentive to Kafka’s lesson, the problem of identifying the individual, persistent in his resolutions despite the confirmed vanity of his attempts. And it is worth mentioning, among those who are or have been more or less firmly linked to the center of Graz or have rejected it, at least the aforementioned G. Roth (b.1942), who passes from a realistic reception of extra-citizen life to an increasingly overt and even tormenting ethical concern (Landläufiger Tod, 1984; Am Abgrund, 1986; Der Untersuchungsrichter, 1988); G. Jonke (b.1946), also already mentioned, who prefers to insist on maintaining contact with the province as a suitable venue for structural linguistic innovations (Die erste Reise zum unerforschten Grund des stillen Horizonts, 1980; Die Hinterhältigkeit der Windmaschinen, 1981; Erwachen zum grossen Schlafkrieg, 1982; Entflieht auf leichten Kähnen, 1983); P. Rosei (b. 1946), who draws strength in episodicity due to his particular realism (Mann & Frau, 1984; 15,000 Seelen, 1985; Die Wolken, 1986; Der Aufstand, 1987; Unser Landschaftsbericht, 1988); J. Winkler (b.1953), who stands out for a strongly imaginative and luxuriant writing, in contact with a nature seen beyond any optic of falsifying idyll (Der Ackermann aus Kärnten, 1980; Die Verschleppung, 1983; Der Leibeigene, 1987).

At the opposite extreme, with belated and still circumspect critical acknowledgments, a champion of entertainment literature such as JM Simmel (b.1924; among the most recent titles Die im Dunkeln sieht man nicht, 1985; Doch mit den Clowns kamen die Tränen, 1987). J. Ebner (b. 1918; Erfrorene Rosen and Drei Flötentöne, 1981; Aktäon, 1983, alongside the memoirs Papierschiffchen treiben, 1987) continues to bear witness to his pensive pessimism. Along the lines of the extravagant and imaginative narrative tradition are placed, in reciprocal autonomy, H. Rosendorfer (b. 1934; Ballmanns Leiden, 1981; Briefe in die chinesische Vergangenheit, 1985) and G. Brus (b. 1940; Die Geheimnisträger, 1984; Amor und Amok. 151 Geschischten , 1987, extreme miniaturization test). Austria Brandstetter (b.1938; Die Mühle, 1981; Über der grünen Klee der Kindheit, 1985; Die Burg, 1986; Kleine Menschenkunde, 1987). This while on the one hand there are appropriate recoveries, such as that of Austria Drach (b.1902), whose autobiographical Unsentimentalische Reise (reissue 1988) is valid both as a warning memory of a gloomy still recent past and as a lesson of rigor and compositional fervor conjugated together, and on the other hand, among the most recent, it stands out for its robust and melancholy realism Chr. Ransmayr (b. 1954; Die Schrecken des Eises und der Finsternis, 1984; Die letzte Welt, 1988). For Austria 2012, please check

The narrative work of P. Handke (b.1942) continues to remain in evidence, which from the now distant experimental and provocative beginnings has more recently reached a more reflective and more penetrating phase that leads to the spheres of confession and nostalgia. a-temporal, with well-marked egocentric notes (Die Lehre der Sainte-Victorie, 1980; Kindergeschichte, 1981; Die Geschichte des Bleistifts, 1982; Die Wiederholung, 1986; Nachmittag eines Schriftstellers and Die Abweswenheit, 1987). More compact, despite some variations which however lack deviant vigor, is the work of Th. Bernhard, the most profiled and even more intrusive, tenacious Austrian author, to the point of stereotyped repetitiveness, in its merciless geometry entirely devoted to the negative, in a world of unrelated and therefore mutually merciless men (Die Billigesser, 1980; Die Kälte, 1981; Ein Kind and Wittgensteins Neffe, 1982; Der Untergeher, 1983; Holzfällen, 1984; Auslöschung, 1986).

Compared to previous years, Handke’s dramaturgical activity appears to be more sporadic (only one text, and not even of great importance, the ‘dramatic poem’ Über die Dörfer, 1981). On the contrary, Bernhard is far from slowing down his grip, indeed as a playwright he insists on interpreting his role as an uncomfortable and disrespectful iconoclast to the point of scandal, intolerant of a petty and false world which he does not know and does not want to offer corrective or alternatives, which at most he manages to address with non-compromising irony (Weltverbesserer, 1980; Am Ziel, 1981; Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh, 1982; Der Teathermacher, 1985; Einfach Kompliziert, Heldenplatz, 1988). On the other hand, albeit in less sensational terms, equally uneasy is the theater of W. Bauer (b.1941), linked to Graz not only for age reasons, opposed to tradition or to the re-edition of mimetic theater with its constant violation of every spatial and temporal constraint, for a recovery of memories tinged by hallucinations (Memory Hotel, 1980; Woher kommen wir? Was sind wir? Wohin gehen wir ?, 1981; Batyschaphe 17-26 and Singapore Sping, 1982; Ein frölicher Morgen beim Friseur and Das kurze Leben der Schneewolken, 1983). Closer to the naturalism of popular theater of ancient roots, F. Mitterer (b. 1946) aims at the same time to go beyond the provincial sphere by tackling far more engaging themes (Stigma, 1984; Die Anderen, 1987). Even therefore with instruments belonging to a typically Austrian tradition, Mitterer contributes to enriching the picture of a theater that lives above all in terms of non-conformism.

Austria Fictions