Lebenswege und Lektüren
What was the driving force that motivated Austrians driven out of their homeland after 1938 and seeking refuge in the United States and Canada to devote their professional lives to the cultivation of literature in German, thus becoming intermediaries re-tilling the intellectual subsoil of the 'perpetrator cultures' Germany and Austria in their new home? Alongside practical considerations it was certainly a love of literature, of Kafka, Rilke, Werfel, Schnitzler, Stefan Zweig and their literary worlds, all of which held out the prospect of regaining a finer, more humane homeland. Throughout, however, their suspicion of German literary studies (a discipline which as early as the 1920s had vigorously supported the dissemination of nationalist and national socialist cultural ideology at Germany's universities) remained very marked indeed. At the same time, the analytic re-acquisition of literature, philosophy and art was a way of rebelling against the enforced abandonment not only of murdered friends, slaughtered relatives and confiscated property but also everything which had started to represent a home from home culturally, intellectually and emotionally.
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