Austrian Literature


Sigrid Löffler

Sigrid Löffler

Siegrid Löffler was born 1942, in Aussig, Czechoslovakia, but grew up in Vienna, Austria and studied English, German and Philosophy at the University of Vienna. From 1968 to 1972 she was the foreign editor of the Viennese daily newspaper 'Die Presse'. From 1972 until 1993 she was editor of the Austrian news magazine 'profil'.

In the 1990s she became a freelance journalist and literary critic as well as the Viennese culture-reporter for the German daily newspaper Süddeutsche Zeitung. Löffler became a household name through her regular participation in the TV-program 'Das Literarische Quartett' (1988-2000). She was also Feature-editor of the Hamburg weekly newspaper Die Zeit (1996-1999). In 2000 she founded the monthly magazine Literaturen in Berlin and remained its chief editor and publisher until 2008. Since then she has been a freelance working journalist, moderator, and critic.

She is married and lives in Berlin.

Does Austrian Literature Exist – and if so, why not?
Notes on an Obstinate Myth

What separates German and Austrian literature is their common language. The small Austrian literature has always depended on its big German counterpart. The Germans have no problem with Austrian literature – while the Austrians certainly do. The Germans simply add everything they like in Austrian literature to the German canon, the rest is dismissed and ignored as Austrian provincial literature. The Austrians, on the other hand, insist on the particularity and autonomy of their literature: they claim it was developed under specific historical conditions and has had a unique mental and cultural history.

As an Austrian who lives in Berlin, the literary critic and journalist Sigrid Loeffler has been investigating this old feud and is ready to provide new answers - in the light of contemporary Austrian literature. She examines the disastrous history of Austrian identity problems and proves that after 1945 Austrian authors have been dealing with quite different questions than their German neighbors. Austrian literature is focused on the two major disasters that ravaged the country in the 20th Century: the downfall of the Habsburg monarchy and the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany, with all the attendant consequences, particularly the extermination or expulsion of the Jews. These catastrophies assume allegorical importance in Austrian literature even today – in the ‘Habsburg myth’ and in critical novels which radically exorcise the Austrians’ ‘Lebensluegen’ (Life-lies) and historical silences.