The Hotel as Setting in Early Twentieth-century German and Austrian Literature: Checking in to Tell a Story
As the bourgeois concept of "home" became problematic after important changes in German-speaking society during the 19th century, many fiction writers chose the literary setting of the hotel to explore the status of the individual and the notions of public and private. As social microcosms, hotels are fitting experimental settings for literary inquiries into the tension between the individual's quest for a place in the world and the technocratic rationalism of modern life. The book has two parts, the first establishing the cultural and theoretical context and the second providing analyses of literary works set in hotels. A brief history of commercial hospitality and a chapter establishing the theoretical framework of the hotel as a paradigmatic, ambivalent, semi-public, and stage-like modern space lead to readings of texts by Schnitzler, Zweig, Werfel, Kafka, Thomas Mann, Joseph Roth, and Vicki Baum. BETTINA MATTHIAS is associate professor of German at Middlebury College.
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