Price: U.S. $5.25
Series No.: 189
ISBN: 978-1-933382-27-2, Pages: 301
Austrian Literature, Fiction
Born in Vienna in 1946, Peter Rosei studied law before he became a free lance writer. Since the seventies, he has published prolifically. Beginning with his early work, such as Landstriche in 1973, his prose has been compared to that of Franz Kafka. In 1993 he was awarded the Franz-Kafka Prize.
Originally published in 2005, Vienna Metropolis, like Heimito von Doderer's great novel The Demons before it, represents an interlinking series of individuals living in Vienna. But unlike von Doderer's work, which revealed events that led up to the German Anschluss, Rosei's novel concerns the great Austrian city after World War II. Yet Rosei's Vienna is not at all the black and white Expressionist-like world of Carol Reed's film, The Third Man, a world reminding everyone -- characters and readers both -- of that great city's monstrous acts and the culture's fall from grace. Instead, Rosei's figures, caught up in a society of avoidance, pick up existence as if the War had not occurred, attempting to ignore or outrun their terrible past in a rush for money and success. Even in their achievements, however, they discover they have no lives, that their beautifully reconstructed city -- as a character who appears late in the novel argues -- is "nothing but a playground of stupidity and beastliness, of beastliness and stupidity, where nothing but baseness ever prevails, or at best the ridiculous." Like the frieze on the corner apartment where this fiction begins -- a depiction of "an oversized male head with the flowing beard of a prophet," lips sealed, eyes wide-open in a blind stare -- Rosei's characters of post-war Vienna are souls that have lost track of themselves in their "joy-crazed adaptation to existence."
This profound and moving novel introduces one of the great Austrian writers to the English-speaking audience.