Austria Honored with Hollywood Oscar
Tante Jolesch or a Cultural Symbiosis in Anecdotes
by Sonat Birnecker Hart
From the turn of the century until 1938, the Viennese literary coffeehouse was known to foster a liberal, intellectual, and creative environment; a kind of “ersatz-home” for members of society seeking refuge from the establishment and its parochial mores. Most of all, it owed its renown to its Jewish literary denizens, who not only wrote and conducted affairs in the coffeehouse but also celebrated its unique atmosphere in their literature. Among these writers, including Peter Altenberg and Joseph Roth, it is Friedrich Torberg who stands out for having created the most thorough tribute to the coffeehouse world in his Tante Jolesch or the Decline of the West in Anecdotes, published for the first time in English this year (Ariadne Press, ISBN: 9781572411499). In Austria, Tante Jolesch has already become a classic, beloved for its descriptions of a world with a slower pace than our own, one imbued with the cultural vestiges of the Habsburg Empire and its vibrant Jewish cultural elite.
Interview with Siegmund Levarie
You have been in the U.S. for quite some time now, but what was your life like in Vienna with your father being the head of the Jewish Community in the 1930s?
The Community was a state within a state – it was recognized by the Austrian government as autonomous. You had to pay taxes to the Community as well as to the Austrian state and every four years there were elections. My father, Josef Löwenherz, had always volunteered for the Community and was eventually elected to be vice-president, still an unpaid job. In 1936, he gave up his law practice to become “Amtsdirektor,” a paid fulltime position to run the administration.
Ariadne Press Studies in Austrian Literature, Culture and Thought
Austrian literature is a constitutive element of Austria’s culture and serves as a medium to bring Austria closer to a wide variety of people. Yet to bring this literature to new shores requires assistance, and Ariadne Press of California has been dedicated to this task, publishing “a canon of Austrian literature from Grillparzer to now” as Jorun B. Johns, one of the founders and editors points out. Thirty years ago, most books written in German were considered “German Literature” and even German professors were reluctant to accept Austrian Literature as representative of a unique literary tradition. Today, however, Austrian Literature is generally accepted as a distinct category, even by the Library of Congress, and Ariadne Press is happy that it has played a small part in helping to bring about this awareness.
Distinguished German-American of the Year 2007
On April 17, 2008 Margrit B. Krewson was honored by the German-American Heritage Foundation of the USA as the Distinguished German-American of the Year for 2007. The awards gala was held at the Austrian Embassy under the Patronage of Ambassador Eva Nowotny. Guests of Honor included Prince Johannes Waldburg-Wolfegg and Nobel Prize laureate and Distinguished German-American of the Year of 2005, Dr. Günter Blobel.