Friedrich Torberg - Tante Jolesch or The Decline of the West in Anecdotes
Already a much loved classic in Austria, Tante Jolesch or The Decline of the West in Anecdotes is Friedrich Torberg's tribute to the largely Jewish coffeehouse world that flourished in Vienna amidst the afterglow of the Austro-Hungarian Empire until its final collapse in 1938. Based on Torberg's personal memories of intellectuals and eccentrics of the time, including Egon Friedell, Fritz Grünbaum, Egon Erwin Kisch, Alfred Polgar, and Franz Werfel, this work evokes the storytelling and humor prominent among Vienna's coffeehouse denizens. These anecdotes allow one to journey into the lives of assimilated Jews before the Shoah, one that begins in the living room of Tante Jolesch, revolves around the coffeehouse, and extends to summer resorts, sports matches, dinner parties, a psychiatric hospital in the care of Sigmund Freud, and the office of a US consular official in charge of granting Visas to the United States.
In this volume Torberg weaves together a literary monument to a group of people, a time, and a culture, of which he saw himself as one of the last
representatives. Despite being one of the most prominent Austrian literary figures of the twentieth century, Friedrich Torberg is not well-known in the English-speaking world. He joined the literary elite of pre-war Austria at the age of 22 but his career was cut short by the Nazi ban on Jewish writers. Invited by the New York PEN-Club as one of "Ten outstanding German Anti-Nazi-Writers," Torberg was able to flee to the United States where he wrote screenplays and articles for German-language newspapers. In 1951 Torberg returned to Vienna, where he became a journalist, critic and translator. In 1979 he received the Austrian State Prize for Literature.
- Author: Friedrich Torberg
- Title: Tante Jolesch or The Decline of the West in Anecdotes
- Binding: Trade Paperback
- Translation by: Maria Poglitsch Bauer
- Edited by: Sonat Birnecker Hart
- Afterword by: Sonat Birnecker Hart
- Publishing House: Ariadne Press
- Pages: 249
- Date Published: 2008
- ISBN: ISBN 157241149X