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Durham University

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Publication details for Professor Janet Stewart

Stewart, Janet C. (2002). 'Nicht die Kunst darf sich vereinnahmen lassen': Franzobel, Literature and Politics in the 'New Austria'. German Life and Letters 55(2): 219-233.

Author(s) from Durham


In the 1999 Austrian ‘Bundeswahl’, the FPÖ polled 27% of the vote, plunging Austria into political turmoil (Armin Thurnher). ‘Kulturpolitik’ assumed a pivotal role in the election, and continues to be an area of conflict in the ‘New Austria’, where there is evidence of the ‘aestheticisation of politics’ (Walter Benjamin). Benjamin argued that this could be countered only by the ‘politicisation of the aesthetic’. Political commentators have identified re-politicisation as a marker of life in the ‘New Austria’, and this extends to the literary sphere. A new generation of writers is emerging that has not been involved in the protracted lambasting of the Social Partnership seen in the work of established Austrian literary figures, such as Thomas Bernhard and Elfriede Jelinek. Franzobel, who came from avantgarde circles to win the Bachmann prize in 1995, is one such writer. He commands the respect of those involved in experimental literature, while also being acclaimed as a popular playwright and a novelist. Through an analysis of his political essays and literary works, this article discusses the role of the writer in the recently re-politicised Vienna within the context of the often controversial, often productive relationship between politics and literature in modern Austria.