Freud’s Egyptian Dig

In March of 1993, a new patient came to Freud, the American poet, Hilda Doolittle, better known to us by her pen name, H.D. The clouds of Nazism hung heavy over Europe that spring. H.D., severely traumatized by World War I, was frightened. She came to Freud, as she tells …

Survivor of a Lost World

Professor Felix Gilbert, one of the subtlest of America’s historians, has chosen well the title of his memoirs: A European Past. He could have called it “My European Past,” but the possessive pronoun would claim too much for the work as autobiography and too little for it as history. The …

Artist of Angst

Vienna, Paris, and New York have mounted large shows to satisfy and clarify the current interest in Austrian culture of the turn of the century; London has proceeded more modestly but with great effect. Claudio Abbado and the London Symphony Orchestra offered a two-season series, “Mahler, Vienna and the Twentieth …

MOMA’s Vienna

One enters the Vienna show at the Museum of Modern art through a long corridor that seems low-key, even colorless. Be not deceived. Like everything else in this brilliant, coherent exhibition, it is carefully thought through. The corridor is composed like an overture in graphics to open the viewer’s senses …

Revolt in Vienna

The rapid, confused emergence of modernism in the late nineteenth century as a broad cultural movement self-conscious of its break from history drew architecture into its wake everywhere in Europe. But nowhere more than in Vienna. The reason is not far to seek. It lies in the city’s great mid-nineteenth-century …

Cultural Hothouse

Change, Hegel once observed, while it imports dissolution, implies at the same time the rise of a new life; for while death is the issue of life, life is also the issue of death. To Austria at the turn of the century, Hegel’s observation is particularly appropriate. Precisely when the …

Weimar and the Intellectuals: II

While Weimar’s leftist intellectuals were being ground up by events, a rightist intelligentsia was coming into its own. Herman Lebovics has explored the process by which the social ideas of conservative critics of modern society were gradually assimilated by the German middle class and became ideological fuel for the fascist …

Weimar and the Intellectuals I

Over fifty years have passed since the founding of the Weimar Republic; thirty-five since the Reichstag voted Hitler dictatorial powers and ended the liberal state. Although the German problem itself has receded from the center of the world stage, American interest in Weimar and its fate continues to grow. The …

The Emperor’s Clothes

“Austria” wrote the poet Friedrich Hebbel, “is a little world in which the big one holds its try-outs.” During the nineteenth century, every European country was disrupted by social and ideological conflict. For most states nationalism was a unifying creed which acted as an antidote to these cleavages; for Europe …