Hugo von Hofmannsthal and the Austrian Idea: Selected Essays and Addresses, 1906-1927

Hugo von Hofmannsthal and the Austrian Idea: Selected Essays and Addresses, 1906-1927

by David Luft
     
 

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The Austrian writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929) was one of the great modernists in the German language, but his importance as a major intellectual of the early twentieth century has not received adequate attention in the English-speaking world. One distinguished literary scholar of his generation called Hofmannsthal a "spiritual-moral authority" of a kind…  See more details below

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The Austrian writer Hugo von Hofmannsthal (1874-1929) was one of the great modernists in the German language, but his importance as a major intellectual of the early twentieth century has not received adequate attention in the English-speaking world. One distinguished literary scholar of his generation called Hofmannsthal a "spiritual-moral authority" of a kind German culture had only rarely produced. This volume provides translations of essays that deal with the Austrian idea and with the distinctive position of German-speaking Austrians between German nationalism and peoples to the East, whether in the Habsburg Monarchy or beyond it, as well as essays that locate Hofmannsthal's thinking about Austria in relation to the broader situation of German and European culture. "It is the true accomplishment of this translation that Hofmannsthal's language, recreated in a clear and elegant English, regains its melody of an earlier time. If there ever was a captivating documentation of the European potential of Austria beyond the stereotypes of "Vienna at 1900," it has been brought together in this volume of essays that responded to the tragic challenges of World War I in a constructive way." Frank Trommler, University of Pennsylvania

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Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher

Journal of Austrian Studies 45:1-2

David S. Luft, trans. and ed., Hugo von Hofmannsthal and the Austrian Idea: Selected Essays and Addresses, 1906–1927. West Lafayette: Purdue UP, 2011. 201 pp.

This landmark translation of essays, which in its very process demonstrates the qualities and theories of the author, should, as Luft suggests, “open up issues for both Austrian and German historians and for Europeanists” (25). The reduction of regional culture by perceived geopolitical dominion and, more specifically, limited subjective examinations of post-imperial Central Europe were Hofmannstahl’s great concern in his critical work. His ideas are no less useful today in approaching these areas of discourse—past and present.

Robert Dassanowsky University of Colorado at Colorado Springs

October 2011 Vol. 49 No. 02
A publication of the Association of College and Research Libraries
A division of the American Library Association
Language & Literature - Germanic
HUMANITIES

Hofmannsthal, Hugo von. Hugo von Hofmannsthal and the Austrian idea: selected essays and addresses, 1906-1927, ed. and tr. by David S. Luft. Purdue, 2011. 201p bibl index ISBN 9781557535900 pbk, $24.95

At the turn of the 20th century, Hugo von Hofmannsthal was well aware of the contradiction that was Austria, in cultural and intellectual terms. Vienna was fast becoming the hub of Western European civilization while wrestling with its tradition and image as a provincial, almost insular community. Hofmannsthal's pride at the accomplishments of Mozart, Grillparzer, and Stifter, among others, was tempered by his acknowledgement that in terms of international reputation and respect, Austria was still living in the shadow of Germany and France. As Luft (Oregon State Univ.) indicates, Hofmannsthal wanted to share his outlook through not only his famous literary endeavors, his plays, poems, and libretti for Strauss, but also his essays. The challenge: how to both laud Austrian aptitude and recognize its limitations. In selecting essays, Luft intentionally avoided introspective discussions of playwriting and focused instead on work that looks at subjects with broader ramifications. His translations are fluid yet precise, a difficult task given the often-stilted, pedantic German of that age. Thanks to his consummate understanding of his subject and the ideas involved, Luft opens a window to the innermost thoughts of Hofmannsthal for the benefit of Anglophone readers. Summing Up: Recommended. Upper-division undergraduates through faculty; general readers. -- C. L.Dolmetsch, Marshall University

The Vienna Review
April 2013

by Robert Dassanowsky

This landmark translation of essays, which in its very process demonstrates the qualities and theories of the author, should, as Luft suggests,
“open up issues for both Austrian and German historians and for Europeanists.” The loss of regional culture through geopolitics and, more
specifically, the limited examinations of postimperial Central Europe were Hofmannsthal’s great concern. In these areas of discourse – past
and present, his ideas are no less useful today.

Robert Dassanowsky is Professor of German and Film, and Director of Film Studies at the University of Colorado, Colorado
Springs, U.S.A. He serves as the current president of the Austrian Studies Association.

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Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781557535900
Publisher:
Purdue University Press
Publication date:
04/15/2011
Series:
Central European Studies Series
Pages:
201
Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 0.40(d)

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Meet the Author


David Luft received his BA in comparative literature from Wesleyan (Connecticut) in 1966 and his PhD in modern European history from Harvard in 1972. He taught for thirty-six years at the University of California, San Diego. He joined the Department of History at Oregon State University in the fall of 2008 as Thomas Hart and Mary Jones Horning Professor in the Humanities.

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