From the Lutheran Reformation to the 19th century
An Austrian literature with its own characteristics compared to the German one arises only after the Lutheran Reformation which marks the detachment of the Austria from the German political and cultural context. The major representatives of Baroque literature are J. Beer, interpreter of the popular vein in realistic fiction, and Abraham a Sancta Clara, virtuoso of linguistic expression. The theater was inspired by the Jesuits, following the example of N. Avancini, playwright at the court of Vienna and cantor of the political-religious function of the Habsburg dynasty.
According to ANYCOUNTYPRIVATESCHOOLS.COM, the 18th century is for the Austria a period of almost complete vacuum. While the imperial court favors the Italian poets (A. Zeno, P. Metastasio), popular poetry acquires importance, which is its major exponent in JA Stranitzky, founder of the first permanent theatrical enterprise in Vienna (the Volkstheater).
In the 19th century. the poet and playwright F. Grillparzer is the greatest interpreter of Austrian classicism, not always understood by his contemporaries. Taking up the lesson dictated not only by classicism but also by German romanticism, Grillparzer recreates a world of pure beauty in tragedies, not to escape from reality, but to represent it in a less immediate and brutal way. In his time the Viennese theatrical life dominated E. Bauernfeld, author of bourgeois-themed comedies, F. Raimund, author of farces and comedies, JN Nestroy, devoted to the satire of bourgeois costume.
Outside the theater, we highlight the poet Austria Grün, who develops the theme of waiting for a new era, and H. von Gilm, who stands out for his popular lyric linked to nature and for his poems love; Austria Pichler sings the natural beauties and popular traditions of his native Tyrol in short stories and travel memories ; K. Postl, with the pseudonym of Charles Sealsfield, is finally one of the most original interpreters of realistic fiction. But the most representative poet is Austria Stifter, emblematic expression of a civilization in itself complete, masterfully represented in a crystallization that renders its entire devitalized inertia. Meanwhile, the Austria it experiences a decline in prestige and power and some authors draw from it elements for a reflective and less and less carefree writing: F. von Saar narrates the decline of the Austrian nobility and the failure of new life experiences; L. Anzengruber since 1871 has proposed political-social and ethical-religious problems on the Viennese scene. Humor and a critical streak can be found in the fiction of M. von Ebner-Eschenbach.
The first decades of the 20th century
Starting from the end of the 19th century, Austrian literature assumes an important position within German-language literature. In. declining declining and post-naturalistic currents, promoted by H. Bahr, discoverer of the genius of H. von Hofmannstahl, find fertile ground. Grasping the crisis of aesthetic values that accompanies the agony of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, Hofmannsthal acknowledges the suggestions of cultures even distant in time and at the same time immediately perceives the needs of the most current literary movements so as to be emblematic representative of an entire culture in a delicate phase of transformation. A very modern experience is that of the psychiatrist Austria Schnitzler, playwright and storyteller, unmatched interpreter, for elegance of form and for lucid analytical skills, of a decay felt on the double social and psychological front. Decadent and voice of the dissolution of a civilization is also RM Rilke. Learn to its initial fame was then revealed S. Zweig, among the first to accept the Freudian lesson. Lyricist, authentic product of expressionism, poet of loneliness and horror is G. Trakl. A man of action is K. Kraus, an unscrupulous critic of the contemporary world, a ruthless moralist, close for a while to expressionism, which is also approached by the cosmic poet, from Trieste by birth, Th. Däubler, the poet J. Weinheber, who dedicates himself to the discipline of rigorous formal and ethical values, proclaimed aloud the more unstoppable their collapse appears, the novelist and polemicist AP Gütersloh. One of the most outspoken exponents of expressionism is then the poet and painter O. Kokoschka, author of unconventional dramas.
The First World War has tragic consequences in the cultural field. More than one writer seeks, beyond the discomfort of the present, a connection with the past. Exponent of religious literature is the Catholic novelist E. von Handel-Mazzetti, lyric aristocrat R. von Schaukal, while M. Mell and R. Billinger take refuge in the extra-country. Others do not hesitate to become narrators of the decline of the old Austria: Austria Lernet-Holenia, J. Roth, P. Kornfeld, J. Urzidil. Among the playwrights we find F. Th. Csokor and, more prominent personality, Ö. von Horvath, representing a world in decay. Among these writers stands R. Musil, the author of the monumentalDer Mann ohne Eigenschaften (1930), a large fresco of a dying age, created through an ironizing and at the same time melancholy analysis of reality. Next to him, H. Broch deserves to be placed. From the rich material offered by the recent past draw authors such as G. Saiko and H. von Doderer, then matured in the climate of the second post-war period.