Beautiful Form? 'Vienna and the Viennese' and Stifter’s Urban Sketches

Auteur: 
Vance Byrd
Abstract: 

Adalbert Stifter’s novels and short stories are known for rural settings and withdrawn domesticity, but his articles in Vienna and the Viennese (1841-44) are his most sustained meditation on the city. In this article, I identify the panoramic, daguerreotypic, and kaleidoscopic as the dominant representational modes. I argue that the other contributors write social portraits in a daguerreotypic style common to Austrian vernacular literature, while Stifter’s preference for the panoramic is consistent with his realism. My analysis suggests that he uses this mode to critique proto-industrialization and the monarchy. Finally, I conclude that the kaleidoscopic is an apt metaphor for urban topographies and reflects the work’s form, as well.

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