Edge Of Irony: Modernism In The Shadow Of The Habsburg Empire

Hardcover | May 6, 2016

byMarjorie Perloff

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Among the brilliant writers and thinkers who emerged from the multicultural and multilingual world of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were Joseph Roth, Robert Musil, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. For them, the trauma of World War I included the sudden loss of the geographical entity into which they had been born: in 1918, the empire was dissolved overnight, leaving Austria a small, fragile republic that would last only twenty years before being annexed by Hitler’s Third Reich. In this major reconsideration of European modernism, Marjorie Perloff identifies and explores the aesthetic world that emerged from the rubble of Vienna and other former Habsburg territories—an “Austro-Modernism” that produced a major body of drama, fiction, poetry, and autobiography.

Perloff explores works ranging from Karl Kraus’s drama The Last Days of Mankind and Elias Canetti’s memoir The Tongue Set Free to Ludwig Wittgenstein’s notebooks and Paul Celan’s lyric poetry. Throughout, she shows that Austro-Modernist literature is characterized less by the formal and technical inventions of a modernism familiar to us in the work of  Joyce and Pound, Dada and Futurism, than by a radical irony beneath a seemingly conventional surface, an acute sense of exile, and a sensibility more erotic and quixotic than that of its German contemporaries. Skeptical and disillusioned, Austro-Modernism prefers to ask questions rather than formulate answers.

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Among the brilliant writers and thinkers who emerged from the multicultural and multilingual world of the Austro-Hungarian Empire were Joseph Roth, Robert Musil, and Ludwig Wittgenstein. For them, the trauma of World War I included the sudden loss of the geographical entity into which they had been born: in 1918, the empire was dissolv...

Marjorie Perloff is professor of English emerita at Stanford University and the Florence R. Scott Professor of English Emerita at the University of Southern California. She is the author of many books, including, most recently, Poetics in a New Key and Unoriginal Genius, also published by the University of Chicago Press.

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Format:HardcoverDimensions:224 pages, 9 × 6 × 1 inPublished:May 6, 2016Publisher:University Of Chicago PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:022605442X

ISBN - 13:9780226054421

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Preface

Introduction: The Making of Austro-Modernism

1. The Mediated War
Karl Kraus’s The Last Days of Mankind

2. The Lost Hyphen
Joseph Roth’s The Radetzky March

3. “The Subjunctive of Possibilities”
Robert Musil’s The Man without Qualities

4. Coming of Age in Kakania
Mother Tongue and Identity Theft in Canetti’s Autobiography

5. The Last Hapsburg Poet
Paul Celan’s Love Poetry and the Limits of Language

Coda: Becoming a “Different” Person
Wittgenstein’s “Gospels”

Notes
Index
 

Editorial Reviews

“This book takes us into the undiscovered country of Austro-Modernism in all of its historical complexity, and in the process requires us to address in new ways the questions of literary innovation, the sources of authorial identity, and how to read texts whose distinctive language and formal ingenuity confront us with the inadequacies of our received critical concepts and practices. Edge of Irony is without doubt the most impressive achievement of Perloff’s distinguished career.”