Wolfgang Görtschacher / Holger Klein (eds.)
Austria and Austrians: Images in World Literature
Reihe: Studies in English and Comparative Literature
The subject of the 9th International Salzburg Conference on English and related literatures and media was something special: Images of Austria and Austrians in literary works of many different countries and periods. When this conference was planned in 1996, it was intended as a modest and pleasant, uncontroversial contribution to the many events marking the millennium. The result of the 1999 elections turned it into an explosive issue, as the Austrian government at present in office had come under concentrated attack from many quarters, including many voices within Austria herself. Thus it is no longer just a matter of mountain slopes and good wine, of Haydn and Mozart, of Sachertorte and so many other nice things frequently foregrounded under a motto applied to this country by King Matthias Corvinus of Hungary in the late fifteenth century. Matthias exclaimed: “Bella gerant alii, tu felix Austria, nube!” Let others wage war, you, fortunate Austria, be content to marry). That motto and everything which may be aligned with it is all very well. Yet under the sunny side, there is a dark one, we were forcibly reminded of very ugly things that also belong to Austria’s past and, fortunately much less strongly, Austria’s present – and which, understandably perhaps, have often tended to be unconsciously suppressed or consciously brushed under the carpet. In other words, there is an element to the question of the public images of Austria and her people which is not always present in academic discussions. It is not uncontentious nor uncoloured by political implications. Many of the papers that were delivered at the conference are assembled in this volume, enabling others to share the arguments and insights that emerged while some thirty scholars from a round dozen of countries were discussing the complex image of Austria.
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