“These slices of lives illustrate something about the bizarre impulse toward relentless acquisition, even when it comes at a cost … Funny and whimsical. There are wonderful asides that evoke [Pierre Le-Tan’s] colorful social scene … It is also poignant.”
This absorbing, sensitive novel portrays a famed author in a moment of crisis: an aging Hugo von Hofmannsthal returns to a summer resort outside of Salzburg that he visited as a child. But in the spa town where he once thrilled to the joys of youth, he now feels unproductive and uninspired, adrift in the modern world born after World War One. Over ten days in 1924 in a ramshackle inn that has been renamed the Grand Hotel, Hofmannsthal fruitlessly attempts to complete a play he’s long been wrestling with. The writer is plagued by feelings of loneliness and failure that echo in a buzz of inner monologues, imaginary conversations and nostalgic memories of relationships with glittering cultural figures. Palace of Flies conjures up an individual state of distress and disruption at a time of fundamental societal transformation that speaks eloquently to our own age.
With an introduction by Michael P. Steinberg, professor of history, music, and German studies at Brown University.
A defiant memoir from contemporary Europe: In autumn 1942, Anna Goldenberg’s great-grandparents and one of their sons are deported to the Theresienstadt concentration camp. Hans, their elder son, survives by hiding in an apartment in the middle of Nazi-controlled Vienna. But this is no Anne Frank-like existence; teenage Hans passes time in the municipal library and buys standing room tickets to the Vienna State Opera. He never sees his family again. Goldenberg reconstructs this unique story in magnificent reportage. She also portrays Vienna’s undying allure—although they tried living in the United States after World War Two, both grandparents eventually returned to the Austrian capital. The author, too, has returned to her native Vienna after living in New York herself, and her fierce attachment to her birthplace enlivens her engrossing biographical history. A probing tale of heroism, resilience, identity and belonging, marked by a surprising freshness as a new generation comes to terms with history’s darkest era.
Listen to author Anna Goldenberg and her award winning translator, Alta L. Price, discuss I Belong to Vienna. Click to hear this podcast from Trafika Europe Radio.
The fifth volume in our popular Very Christmas series, this collection brings together traditional and contemporary holiday stories from Austria, Switzerland, and Germany. You’ll find classic works by the Brothers Grimm, Johann Wolfgang von Goethe, Heinrich Heine, Thomas Mann, Rainer Maria Rilke, Hermann Hesse, Joseph Roth, and Arthur Schnitzler, as well as more recent tales by writers like Heinrich Böll, Peter Stamm, and Martin Suter. Eine fröhliche Weihnachten—A Merry Christmas—made all the more festive with these literary treats redolent of candle-lit trees, St. Nikolaus, gingerbread, the Christkindl, roast goose and red cabbage, Gugelhopf, and stollen cakes, accompanied by plenty of schnapps.
Joseph Roth’s story “Christmas in Cochinchina,” published in English for the first time in this collection, appears in the December 2020 issue of Harper’s Magazine.
In 1776 Fanny von Arnstein, the daughter of the Jewish master of the royal mint in Berlin, came to Vienna as an 18-year-old bride, bringing with her the intellectual sharpness and vitality of her birthplace. In her youth, she was influenced by the philosopher Moses Mendelssohn, a family friend who spearheaded the emancipation of German Jewry. She married a financier to the Austro-Hungarian imperial court, and in 1798 her husband became the first unconverted Jew in Austria to be granted the title of baron. Soon Fanny hosted an ever more splendid salon which attracted the leading figures of her day, including Madame de Staël, the Duke of Wellington, Lord Nelson, his lover Lady Hamilton and the young Arthur Schopenhauer.
Spiel’s elegantly written and carefully researched biography not only provides a vivid portrait of a brave and passionate woman who advocated for the rights and acceptance of Jews but illuminates a central era in European cultural and social history.
The biography features a critical introduction by Michael Z. Wise, an American author and journalist who has written extensively about Central European culture and spent five years as a Vienna-based correspondent for Reuters and The Washington Post.