‘FROM NATURAL TO UNNATURAL’: THE IMAGE OF AUSTRIA AS ‘HEILE WELT’ AND ITS CONSEQUENCES

in The New Georgics
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Abstract

The ‘Heimat Novel’, which became an important genre during the period of Realism, traditionally emphasizes the positive factors of life in the countryside. If there are negative influences at all, these are meant to purify the main character, usually the farmer. The political turn in the first half of the twentieth century (National Socialism) has had consequences for the continuity and the meaning of the genre. In postwar Austrian literature the ‘Heimat Novel’ has been critically transformed. In the last decades it has become evident that a return to an idyllic description of the landscape and its inhabitants – to the ‘heile Welt’ – has become almost impossible, because Austrian nature is too strongly connected with Austrian-German political history. This contribution deals with the rewriting of the ‘Heimat Novel’ from 1985 on, in particular by Nobert Gstrein, Felix Mitterer and Elfriede Jelinek.

The New Georgics

Rural and Regional Motifs in the Contemporary European Novel

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