Sunday, 5 January 2020

#WorldReads - Five Books From Austria

If this is your first visit to my WorldReads blog series, the idea of the posts is to encourage and promote the reading of global literature. On the 5th of each month I highlight five books I have read by authors from a particular country and you can see links to previous countries' posts at the end of this post as well as finding out how to join in the challenge.

Click the book titles or cover images to visit their Literary Flits book review pages.

This month we are going to Austria!

Giordano Bruno by Alois Riehl

This potted biography of the Italian Dominican friar and philosopher Giordano Bruno, written by Austrian philosopher Alois Adolf Riehl, is just 100 pages long. It is a swift read, giving an outline of Bruno's life together with an overview of his remarkably accurate insights into the make-up of the universe.

Angel Of Oblivion by Maja Haderlap

The novel tells the story of a family from the Slovenian minority in Austria. The first-person narrator starts off with her childhood memories of rural life, in a community anchored in the past. Yet behind this rural idyll, an unresolved conflict is smouldering. At first, the child wonders about the border to Yugoslavia, which runs not far away from her home. Then gradually the stories that the adults tell at every opportunity start to make sense. All the locals are scarred by the war. Her grandfather, we find out, was a partisan fighting the Nazis from forest hideouts. Her grandmother was arrested and survived Ravensbrück.

Illuminating an almost forgotten chapter of European history and the European present, the book deals with family dynamics scarred by war and torture - a dominant grandmother, a long-suffering mother, a violent father who loves his children but is impossible to live with. And interwoven with this is compelling reflection on storytelling: the narrator hoping to rid herself of the emotional burden of her past and to tell stories on behalf of those who cannot.

Marie Antoinette by Stefan Zweig

Stefan Zweig based his biography of Marie Antoinette, who became the Queen of France when still a teenager, on her correspondence with both her mother and her great love the Count Axel von Fersen. Zweig analyses the chemistry of a woman’s soul, from her intimate pleasures to her public suffering as a Queen under the weight of misfortune and history. Zweig describes Marie Antoinette in the king’s bedroom, in the enchanted and extravagant world of the Trianon and with her children. He also gives an account of the Revolution, the Queen's resolve during the failed escape to Varennes, her imprisonment in the Conciergerie and her tragic end under the guillotine. This has been the definitive biography of Marie Antoinette since its publication, inspiring later biographers, including Antonia Fraser, and the recent film adaptation.

First published in 1911, Intimate Ties is Robert Musil's second book, consisting of two novellas, 'The Culmination of Love' and 'The Temptation of Silent Veronica.'

Each revolves around a troubled woman in the throes of her sexual and romantic woes, as their memories of the past return to influence their present desires. Musil tracks the psyche of his protagonists in a blurring of impressions that is reflected in his experimental prose.

Intimate Ties offers the reader an early glimpse of the high modernist style Musil would perfect in his magnum opus The Man Without Qualities.

A new translation by acclaimed poet Will Stone of the visionary Austrian poet Georg Trakl

Georg Trakl is recognised as one of the most important European poets of the twentieth century. His visionary poetry has influenced not only later poets but also composers, artists and filmmakers. The full measure of Trakl's genius can be appreciated in this extensive Collected Poems, intuitively translated by poet Will Stone, which features the key collections including the posthumously published Sebastian in Dream, 1915. Supplementary to these are the poems originally published in the literary journal Der Brenner as well as a discerning selection of Trakl's uncollected work.

Trakl's trademark tonal qualities, his melancholy stamp, the often apocalyptic but eerily beautiful language gradually infect the reader. His poems are awash with images, symbolic colours and signs; mysterious dream-like figures appear and vanish, and an alternative world is born out of the unconscious. The most sensitive observer of Trakl's poetry was his contemporary, Rainer Maria Rilke, who concluded: 'For me, the Trakl poem is an object of sublime existence...'

That's it for January's WorldReads from Austria. I hope I have tempted you to try reading a book from this country and if you want more suggestions, click through to see all my Literary Flits reviews of Austrian-authored books!

You can join in my WorldReads Challenge at any time! Simply read 1 or more books from a different country each month, write a post about it/them, grab the button below and add it to your post. Don't forget to pop back here and Comment your link so I can visit!

Instructions: Select all code above, copy it and paste it inside your blog post as HTML

If you missed any earlier WorldReads posts, I have already 'visited'

Africa: Kenya, Nigeria, South Africa, Zimbabwe

Americas: Argentina, Brazil, Canada, Colombia, Jamaica, Mexico, United States of America,

Asia: China, India, Iraq, Iran, Israel, Japan, Pakistan, Russia, Singapore, South Korea, Syria, Turkey

Australasia: Australia, New Zealand,

Europe: Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Greece, Iceland, Ireland, Italy, the Netherlands, Northern Ireland, Norway, Poland, Portugal, Scotland, Spain, Sweden, Switzerland, Wales

In February I will be highlighting five books by Chilean authors. See you on the 5th to find out which ones!


  1. I've never read any of those books but a couple of them sound interesting.

    1. I think the Marie Antoinette biography was very interesting. So much I didn't know about her life