Between the Usable and Unusable Past
Despite the collapse of the Habsburg Empire in Austria in 1918, the Habsburg mythology continued to flourish with the help of Jewish writers such as Franz Werfel, Stefan Zweig, Joseph Roth, and Arthur Schnitzler. The Habsburg memory has remained alive among German-speaking Jews as well as those who have written in other languages, including Hebrew (Shmuel Yosef Agnon) and Polish (Bruno Schulz). Unlike Georg Lukács, Meir Wiener represented his life story as a slow and painful process of self-realization, rather than a direct path to communism. In his memoirs, which he began writing in Moscow, Wiener associates Zionism, along with all other nationalist ideologies, with mental and physical weakness. His memoirs contain the text of an unfinished novel, which portrays the world of the déclassé Jewish intellectuals and artists in four European cities: Vienna, Berlin, Paris, and Zurich. The novel tackles gender, sexuality, and class consciousness. This chapter explores Wiener's life writing, focusing on its style and ideology, along with his memoirs and the unfinished magnum opus.
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