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Durham e-Theses
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Metropolis and province configurations of identity in contemporary Austrian literature

Bolton, Philip (2006) Metropolis and province configurations of identity in contemporary Austrian literature. Unspecified thesis, Durham University.



This thesis uses an investigation of the contemporary development of the Anti-Heimatroman to explore the relationship between national identity and literature in present-day Austria. The traditional Anti-Heimatroman dominated the Austrian canon during the 1960s and 1970ร and has been cited by critics as fulfilling the criteria for a so called Nationalliteratur. The genre Second Republic identity paradigms through its bitingly aggressive presentation of a provincial milieu whose dynamics were overwhelmingly negative, and which was intended to function as a metonym for the state at large. Critical consensus, however, suggests that the Anti-Heimatroman became obsolete at the beginning of the 1980ร. This thesis interrogates both of these points of view, arguing not only that the Anti-Heimatroman continues to exist in the contemporary context, but also that the genre continues to function as 'national literature.’ The introduction uses empirical data to present an overview of the factors which contribute to the dominant conceptualisation of contemporary Austrian national identity, considering especially some of its more problematic aspects. These include the first victim thesis and the repercussions of the Waldheim affair. The second part of the introduction constitutes an historical overview of the development of the Anti- Heimat genre until the early 1980s.The case-studies that follow attempt to determine the extent to which conventions of the Anti-Heimatroman, as identified by critics including Mecklenburg, Zeyringer and Rossbacher, can be applied to four contemporary Austrian novels representing both aspects of the metropolis/province binary. The first study, an investigation of Josef Winkler's Der Ackermann aus Kärnten shows that the novel perpetuates these conventions through its presentation of protagonist constantly subjugated by a patriarchal system founded upon enforced submission to the institutions of authoritarian family and Church. An analysis of Gstrein's Das Register investigates the dynamics of a provincial Austrian tourist-trap whose inhabitants lives revolve around a capitalist imperative of economic and social success. The second part of the thesis shifts the reader's attention to the metropolis. A reading of Wiener Passion shows Faschinger's literary Vienna to be dominated by a purely provincial mentality built upon nostalgia for Austria's imperial past, a nostalgia revealed to be utterly fallacious in view of the experiences of the novel's main protagonist, Rosa Hawelka. Finally, an examination of Rabinovici's Suche nach M. applies the border imagery intrinsic in the traditional Anti-Heimatroman to explore expose the rigidity of the victim/perpetrator binary which Rabinovici presents as continuing to govern relations between Jewish and non-Jewish Austrians.

Item Type:Thesis (Unspecified)
Thesis Date:2006
Copyright:Copyright of this thesis is held by the author
Deposited On:09 Sep 2011 09:53

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