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Heimito von Doderer

Heimito von Doderer (5 September 1896, in Weidlingau (now a part of Hadersdorf-Weidlingau, Penzing), near Vienna - 23 December 1966, Vienna) was a famous Austrian writer.


Life and work

Heimito von Doderer was born near Vienna in 1896, son of the architect and engineer Wilhelm Carl von Doderer and his wife Wilhelmine von Hügel as the youngest of 6 children. His unusual first name was based on an attempt to germanicize the Spanish name "Jaime", or rather its diminutive "Jaimito".

His life was spent mostly in Vienna, the longest exception being a period as a Russian prisoner of war in Siberia from 1916 until his eventual return to Austria in 1920. It was during his time in Russia that he decided to become a writer. His first published work, a book of poems Gassen und Landschaft, appeared in 1923, followed by the novel Die Bresche the following year, both with little success. A further novel, Das Geheimnis des Reichs, followed in 1930. In the same year he married Gusti Hasterlik, but they separated 2 years later and were divorced in 1938.

In 1933 Doderer joined the Austrian section of the NSDAP and published several stories in the Deutschösterreichische Tages-Zeitung ("German-Austrian Journal"), a newspaper closely linked to the party and propagating racism and the unification of Germany and Austria. In 1936 he moved to Dachau (Germany), where he met his future 2nd wife, Emma Maria Thoma (although they were not to marry until 1952). In Germany, he renewed his NSDAP-membership (the Austrian Nazi Party had been banned since 1933). He returned to Vienna in 1938, sharing a flat with the celebrated painter Albert Paris Gütersloh. In that year the novel Ein Mord den jeder begeht was published. His conversion to catholicism in 1940 was the result of the distance to the Nazi party which had grown over the past years, and of his reading of Thomas Aquinas. In this year, he was called up to the Wehrmacht and was later posted to France, where he began work on his most celebrated novel Die Strudlhofstiege. Due to ill health, he was allowed in 1943 to return from the front, serving in the Vienna area, before a final posting to Oslo at the end of the war.

After his return to Austria in early 1946 he was banned from publishing. This ban was lifted in 1947. He continued work on Die Strudlhofstiege, but although he completed it in 1948, the still obscure author was unable to get it published immediately. However when it did finally appear in 1951 it was a huge success, and its author's place in the post-war Austrian literary scene was assured. After this he returned to an earlier unfinished project, Die Dämonen, which appeared in 1956 to much acclaim. In 1958 he began work on what was intended to be a four volume novel under the general title of "Novel No. 7", to be written as a counterpart to Beethoven's 7th Symphony. The first volume Die Wasserfälle von Slunj, appeared in 1963, the second volume, Der Grenzwald, was to be his last uncompleted work and was published posthumously in 1967. He died of intestinal cancer on 23 December 1966.


Works published during lifetime (in German)
  • Gassen und Landschaft (poems) (1923) ("Streets and Landscape")
  • Die Bresche (novel) (1924) ("The Breach")
  • Das Geheimnis des Reichs (novel) (1930) ("The Secret of the Realm")
  • Der Fall Gütersloh (monograph on the painter Gütersloh) (1930)
  • Ein Mord, den jeder begeht (novel) (1938) ("A Murder, That Everyone Commits")
  • Ein Umweg (novel) (1940) ("A Detour")
  • Die erleuchteten Fenster oder die Menschwerdung des Amtsrates Julius Zihal (novel) (1951) ("The Lighted Window")
  • Die Strudlhofstiege oder Melzer und die Tiefe der Jahre (novel) (1951) ("The Strudelhof Steps")
  • Das letzte Abenteuer (novella) (1953) ("The Last Adventure")
  • Die Dämonen. Nach der Chronik des Sektionsrates Geyrenhoff (novel) (1956) ("The Demons")
  • Ein Weg im Dunkeln (poems) (1957) ("A Way Into the Darkness")
  • Die Posaunen von Jericho (novella) (1958) ("The Trombones of Jericho")
  • Grundlagen und Funktion des Romans (essay) (1959) ("Principles and function of the Novel")
  • Die Peinigung der Lederbeutelchen (short stories) (1959) ("The Torment of the Leather Bag")
  • Die Merowinger oder die totale Familie (novel) (1962) ("The Merovingians or The Total Family")
  • Roman Nr.7/I. Die Wasserfälle von Slunj (novel) (1962) ("Novel No. 7/I. The Waterfalls of Slunj")
  • Tangenten. Tagebuch eines Schriftstellers 1940 – 1950 (diaries) (1964)
  • Unter schwarzen Sternen (short stories) (1966)
  • Meine neunzehn Lebensläufe und neun andere Geschichten (short stories) (1966)
Published posthumously
  • Roman No. 7/II. Der Grenzwald (novel) (1967) ("Novel No. 7/II. The Border Forest")
  • Frühe Prosa. Die Bresche – Jutta Bamberger - Das Geheimnis des Reichs (early prose) (1968)
  • Repertorium (an ABC of ideas & concepts) (1969)
  • Die Wiederkehr der Drachen (essays) (1970) ("The Return of the Dragons")
  • Die Erzählungen (collected short stories) (1972)
  • Commentarii 1951 bis 1956. Tagebücher aus dem Nachlaß (diaries) (1976)
  • Commentarii 1957 bis 1966. Tagebücher aus dem Nachlaß (diaries) (1986)
  • Heimito von Doderer / Albert Paris Gütersloh: Briefwechsel 1928 – 1962 (letters) (1986)
  • Die sibirische Klarheit (early texts from years in Russia) (1991)
  • Gedanken über eine zu schreibende Geschichte der Stadt Wien (essay, facsimile of author's handwriting) (1996) ("Thoughts About a Not Yet Written History of the City of Vienna")
  • Tagebücher 1920 – 1939 (diaries) (1996)
  • Von Figur zu Figur (letters to Ivar Ivask) (1996)
  • Seraphica. Montefal. (2009: 2 posthumously published early stories)[1]

External links



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