- New Perspectives on Contemporary Austrian Literature and Culture by Katya Krylova
Following the 2017 publication of her book The Long Shadow of the Past: Contemporary Austrian Literature, Film, and Culture, Katya Krylova offers an essay collection of sixteen "new perspectives" drawn from scholars who participated [End Page 124] in the 2015 conference she organized on contemporary Austrian literature, film, and culture at the University of Nottingham. The term contemporary is defined as the past thirty years, a time period encompassing two pivotal events that had a profound effect on Austrian society: the Waldheim affair in the mid-1980s and the waves of immigration from Eastern Europe and the Middle East in the ensuing decades. Most of the essays are in English, with only four in German. Additionally, the volume accommodates those who may not know German by having all citations translated into English, and by providing an abstract in English at the beginning of each essay. Krylova's introduction provides background to Austrian politics and controversies as well as the reactions of prominent writers, artists, and filmmakers.
The essays are grouped evenly under three broad categories, The first of these is termed transnational perspectives, allowing for a variety of topics. Dagmar Lorenz traces the expanded and more complex image of the "Orient" in post-1945 Austrian literature, citing the works of Ingeborg Bachmann, Elias Canetti, Gerhard Roth, Anna Mitgutsch, Barbara Frischmuth, Vladimir Vertlib, Sherko Fatah, Tarek Eltayeb, and Semier Insayif. In the second essay, Anne-Marie Scholz critiques the popular Third Man tour, based on the 1949 U.S./British film, by contrasting its postwar interpretation of Vienna with Jörg Albrecht's 2010 parody Harry Lime lebt! Und in diesem Licht! and Ilse Aichinger's 2001 autobiographical work Film und Verhängnis. Going beyond the thirty-year focus, Benedict Schofield looks at the early works of John Irving, which anticipate rifts in the facade of the myth of Austria's victimhood. Katya Krylova's own contribution deals with the documentary films American Passages (2011) and Those Who Go Those Who Stay (2013) by the Austrian filmmaker Ruth Beckermann. Krylova uses the motif from Greek myth of Ariadne's thread to find a possible interpretive path through the labyrinth of the narrative-less film montage. The final essay in this section is from Valentina Serra, who offers an extensive study on Robert Menasse. She notes that his fictional characters often serve as parodies of intellectuals, while at the same time, the author himself has assumed the mantle of the intellectual critiquing contemporary European politics. The essays in the second group fall under the broad category of boundary crossings, opening with Nikhil Sathe's study outlining the influences of the classic western film genre in current Austrian cinema. In particular, Sathe points to the concept of the frontier, as demonstrated in Erwin Wagenhofer's Black Brown White (2011), Anja Salomonowitz's Spanien (2012), and Florian Flicker's Grenzgänger (2012). [End Page 125] Ursula Schneider and Annette Steinsiek examine the problematic borders, both political and interpersonal, of South Tyrol, as depicted in Felix Mitterer's film script Verkaufte Heimat (1989). Silke Schwaiger redefines the concept of the uncanny in two novels of Anna Kim, Frozen Time (2012) and Anatomy of a Night (2008). Rachel Green's contribution adds to studies which, in light of high-profile child abuse cases, uncovered disturbing cultural parallels in Austrian literature. Green focuses on contemporary films such as Ulrich Seidl's Im Keller (2014), Ruth Mader's Struggle (2003), and Markus Schleinzer's Michael (2011) in applying Freudian concepts in her analysis. Lydia Haider draws upon her dissertation research on "Rhythmische Subversion in Texten Thomas Bernhards und Ernst Jandls" to identify use of the trochaic meter in these authors' narrative strategy. Peter Höyng attempts to solve an impasse in Elfriede Jelinek criticism, particularly with her 2011 play Winterreise, by applying the concept of "the stranger" by the nineteenth-century social theorist Georg Simmel.
The final section is labeled "Confronting the Nazi Past" and begins with a study by Magdolna Orosz, who uses works by...