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Full text of "ModernGermanLiterature18801950"

POST-WAR   AUSTRIAN  WRITERS                    505

directions. The result is that he has devised an entirely new type
of novel and is therefore pre-eminently original. Critics in their
interpretations of his aims and of the influences discernible in his
work drive far apart, but they are generally agreed that in his treat-
ment of contemporary society there is something of the wide sweep,
the leisurely meandering and the allusive humour of Laurence
Sterne and Jean Paul. He is commonly classed as post-baroque
(nachbarocK). In his representation of the life of one great city he
is said to do for Vienna what James Joyce did for the Irish capital,
but his intention is to typify European life generally (in each suc-
ceeding novel) at a given historical phase of a few years. A native
of Lower Austria, von Doderer passed his youth in Vienna, served
in World War I and for four years (from 1916) was a prisoner of
war in Siberia. Here he gravitated to literature and noted down
the lines of his novel Das Geheimnis des Reids (published 1930),
which deals with the disintegration of the Russian government.
His first published work was a volume of verse, Gassen undl^and-
schaft (1923); this was followed by a short novel, Die "Brescbe (1924).
His verse is collected in Em Wegim Dunklen. Gedichte und epigram-
matiscbe Verse (1957). He attracted attention in wider circles with
his novel Em Mord> denjeder begebt (1938); despite the title this is
not a crime novel but the story of a man who finds himself by
seeking for the undiscovered murderer of his wife's sister, whose
portrait hallucinates him; this motif is recurrent in Doderer *s later
work. In 1940 came Em Umweg, ein Roman aus dew osterreicbiscben
BarotJk; it is the story of Graf Manuel Cuendias and Corporal Paul
Brandter; although their stations in the social fabric are at opposite
extremes their fates are inextricably interwoven; thus Em Ummg
is once again a way to Selbsterkenntnis. Called up for military service
in 1941 von Doderer served for six years as an officer in the air
force. On his return to Vienna in 1946 he resumed work on his
monumental novel Die Damonen, which he had begun in 1931.

Die Menscbwerdung des Amtsrates Julius Zibal, the sub-title of Die
erkucbteten Fenster (1951), points to what is to be von Doderer's
main theme: the ripening by experience from confusion of in-
stincts and the trammels of habit to human feeling and the accep-
tance of whatever befalls. The fantastic humour and biting satire
of this tale reminds one of Sir Tite Barnacle in the Circumlocution
Office as Dickens saw it; Zihal has risen in the Office of Taxes in
Vienna to the rank of Amtsrat and now on his retirement (in the