Sunday, January 20, 2008


What Kraus is trying to say in his "The Demolished Literature" is that Viennese culture, especially its literature is all just one big sham, essentially.  There is a quote that summarizes his thoughts quite well, "Not even the peak of productivity was obtained by the group of young people... Several of them were able to make themselves useful to the extent that mediated the traffic between the individual tables, brought the guests theater news... Several again appeared to take great pains to imitate the free customs of Parisian Bohemians.  The intention was honorable, but the talent too meager for indolence."  Kraus thought that their attempt at re-shaping Viennese literature was vain, void of passion, and under-whelming.  To Kraus, the very idea of some young people with no ability to write a passionate word attempting to challenge to status quo simply made the real revolutionaries look foolish.  They were fake to him, just like the rest of Vienna.


Brooke Bowen said...

The quote you included may point in another direction as well: could it be that Austrian writers had difficulties with language because they were imitating literature from other cultures in many cases, written in other languages? Is he saying the Viennese ought not imitate Symbolism or other French/English movements because they are out of their league?

erin andersen said...

Good point, however I don't think that Kraus would totally consider Symbolism or other French/English movements as 'out of their league.' More or less, I think he would see this imitation of other literary movements as a perversion of the German language. Since it wasn't really a German movement to begin with, it would be using the German language in a forced and un-natural way. More than anything I think that he would consider German way out of the league of Symbolism and other French/English movements.

Brooke Bowen said...

The limits of language have undermined me as well. I did not mean to infer that German literature was inferior to other countries' lit. movements, only that-like the feuillate - they were not movements/styles that originated in Germany. You articulated that much better than I did.