Vienna. A city seen through literature.

The city as a dream landscape and place of memory, as a utopia and crime scene: Many works of Austrian post-1945 literature are set in Vienna. The special exhibition, “Vienna. A city reflected in literature”, in the Austrian National Library’s Literature Museum presents surprising and ever-changing images of the city: astonishing manuscripts, photographs and personal documents, some displayed for the first time in public, alongside film extracts and sound recordings.

The subject of the exhibition is Vienna, the “capital of forgetting” (Robert Schindel), as recalled in books by exiles and survivors. It follows in the steps of eccentric city walkers on their paths to the periphery, urban wastelands and the underground. Viennas is presented as a dark transitional realm of foreign agents and speculation in post-war spy novels, or as the setting for social conditions in the political thriller of the 1990s.

Whether in the details or in the panorama overview, the city has left its traces in literary texts, in Heimito von Doderer’s great novels, in Graham Greene’s fast-moving post-war classic “The Third Man” or in the sophisticated Viennese poems byErnst Jandl and Elfriede Gerstl.

The exhibition invites the visitor to take a multi-faceted discovery tour of Vienna in texts by Ilse Aichinger, Ingeborg Bachmann, Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke, Josef Haslinger, Friedrich Heer, Bodo Hell, Peter Henisch, Ruth Klüger, Trude Marzik, Frederic Morton, Julian Schutting, Manès Sperber, Hilde Spiel, Dorothea Zeemann and many more.

Using the images provided as part of a report on the Austrian National Library is free of charge. Copyright of the pictures (if not mentioned otherwise): Austrian National Library.

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