- Das Junge Wien—Orte und Spielräume der Wiener Moderne ed. by Wilhelm Hemecker, Cornelius Mitterer, and David Österle
The three editors of this essay collection are all associated with Vienna's Ludwig Boltzmann Institut für Geschichte und Theorie der Biographie. Indeed, the book reads like the history of a movement in biographical form. Jung Wien, a group without a manifesto or a program but possessing a clear generational identity marking the start of modernism in Vienna, is well suited to the exercise. The focus on the members' environments (both private and public) and their share in social change offers fruitful new perspectives.
The sites covered in this volume range widely from domiciles to cafes, from movie theaters to the Prater, from urban to provincial locations and even include a bedroom in Schnitzler's Reigen. The scope expands the usual fin-de-siècle time frame to more than a century including an 1853 performance of a piece by Wagner in the Volksgarten Kaffeehaus to the appearance of a fictional Hugo von Hofmannsthal as a character in a novel published in 2009. The first of the book's four sections looks at the homes of the key figures associated with Jung Wien. Roland Innerhofer reflects on the manner in which each of these residences reflects the respective writer's self-image. Once securely established by the first decade of the new century, Hermann Bahr, Richard [End Page 142] Beer-Hofmann, Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Felix Salten, and Arthur Schnitzler moved away from their youthful, hectic café life in Vienna's first district to bourgeois comfort in the outer districts and beyond.
Bahr, the unofficial publicist for both Vienna's literary and visual modernists, hired Josef Olbrich, the architect of the Secession, to build a villa for him in Ober St. Veit. Beer-Hofmann also relied on a contemporary architect—Josef Hofmann—to design his home. In a little baroque castle built in 1724 in the town of Rodaun, Hofmannsthal found a match for the historicism of many of his literary efforts (and his own emphasis on aspects of his lineage). His family, alas, had to put up with the lack of many modern conveniences. Peter Altenberg, the Jung Wien bohemian, dispensed with a residence altogether, keeping instead a room in the Hotel Graben. However, he too gave it a touch of his own individuality with artful arrangements of mementos and photographs on the walls.
Philipp Ramer devotes his essay in this section to the seamless connection between life and work that Karl Kraus's apartment in Vienna's Lothringerstrasse allowed for. There was no kitchen or living room but a large workroom housing a magnificent desk. A secured space just within the front door enabled his printer to pick up his manuscript when Kraus left for the café in the evening. On the writer's return home late at night, the printed version would be there.
Opening the section on Spielräume is Cornelius Mitterer's dissection of the failed attempt of Jung Wien to launch a Freie Bühne along the lines of the Berlin model. He singles out the group's lack of cohesive vision amid the sturdy vitality of Vienna's own native theatrical tradition. A more successful response to a new arena is the subject of Anna Högner's contribution dealing with the enthusiasm of the members of Jung Wien for the new medium of film.
No picture of the world in which Jung Wien moved is complete without a discussion of the role of the Kaffeehaus. Here, the collection moves in a surprising direction by emphasizing that this most traditional of Viennese institutions played a role in "reception" as well as "production." Gregor Schima's detailed analysis of the role of the Strauss brothers in introducing Wagner to Vienna in the Pietro Corti Kaffeehaus in the Volksgarten as early as 1853 is a wonderful demonstration of the receptivity to new music not only of those composers/impresarios but also of their...