Author: Catriona Firth
For decades postwar Austrian literature has been measured against and moulded into a series of generic categories and grand cultural narratives, from nostalgic ‘restoration’ literature of the 1950s through the socially critical ‘anti- Heimat’ novel to recent literary reckonings with Austria’s Nazi past. Peering through the lens of film adaptation, this book rattles the generic shackles imposed by literary history and provides an entirely new critical perspective on Austrian literature. Its original methodological approach challenges the primacy of written sources in existing scholarship and uses the distortions generated by the shift in medium as a productive starting point for literary analysis. Five case studies approach canonical texts in post-war Austrian literature by Gerhard Fritsch, Franz Innerhofer, Gerhard Roth, Elfriede Jelinek, and Robert Schindel, through close readings of their cinematic adaptations, concentrating on key areas of narratological concern: plot, narrative perspective, authorship, and post-modern ontologies. Setting the texts within the historical, cultural and political discourses that define the ‘Alpine Republic’, this study investigates fundamental aspects of Austrian national identity, such as its Habsburg and National Socialist legacies.

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“Impeccably researched and supported, Firth’s virtuoso study offers a highly engaging critical experience in her re-vision of textual structure and filmic translation in sources that call the traditional binary reading of postwar Austrian cultural identity into question. Her utilization of cinematic concepts to re-examine literature and psychological strategies to comprehend film adaptations comes with a clarity that is rare. Modern Austrian Literature through the Lens of Adaptation is a key text that offers literature and film analysis pertinent interdisciplinary tools, and tantalizingly rattles staid concepts of Austrian cultural-historical criticism. [...]what is most intriguing about Through the Lens of Adaptation is its aspiration to move beyond a traditionally linear conception of the adaptation process in order to understand the relationship between the two media not as a unidirectional but a more complex reciprocal transaction. […] Through the Lens of Adaptation undoubtedly has much to offer scholars of literary studies and film studies alike. It not only provides a useful overview of the history of Austrian literature in the second half of the twentieth century but also critically engages with the problematic dynamics of its making. A set of comparative analyses serves as an invitation to revisit canonical works and to reconsider the major narratives that have dominated their critical debate. Overall, the innovative interdisciplinary approach of this work succeeds in providing inspiring new perspectives on literary works “through the lens of adaptation.” – Arnhilt Johanna Hoefle, University of London, in: Journal of Austrian Studies 46:4 (2014), pp. 140-142
Author’s Note
Perverted Narratives and Secret Subversion: Gerhard Fritsch and Georg Lhotzky’s Moos auf den Steinen
Focalisation, Identification, and Power: Franz Innerhofer and Fritz Lehner’s Schöne Tage
The Violence of Visual Anthropology: Gerhard Roth and Xaver Schwarzenberger’s Der Stille Ozean
Comedy, Collusion, and Exclusion: Elfriede Jelinek and Franz Novotny’s Die Ausgesperrten
Post-Modern Pleasures: Robert Schindel and Lukas Stepanik’s Gebürtig
Concluding Remarks