Friday, December 20, 2013

Oh, Vienna!

I just ordered these, used, for about $4 apiece (!) I can't wait! I've always been interested in the city because of its associations with Klimt (and Schiele) and Freud (and my grand-uncle) and Hitler's poverty as an artist/unsuccessful application to art school there... And author Morton's idea of a confluence of forces in a particular time/place reminded me of the odd feeling I got days ago when I figured out that Plath killed herself in London just 4 hours before the Beatles began recording their debut album, under 2 miles away. (I'm sure there is much more to the London "coincidence"-- perhaps these two Vienna books by Morton will help me figure out how to go about unraveling what made me feel so eerie...)
 
 
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"On January 30, 1889, at the champagne-splashed hight of the Viennese Carnival, the handsome and charming Crown Prince Rudolf fired a revolver at his teenaged mistress and then himself. The two shots that rang out at Mayerling in the Vienna Woods echo still.

Frederic Morton...deftly tells the haunting story of the Prince and his city, where, in the span of only ten months, "the Western dream started to go wrong." In Rudolf's Vienna moved other young men with striking intellectual and artistic talents—and all as frustrated as the Prince. Among them were: young Sigmund Freud, Gustav Mahler, Theodor Herzl, Gustav Klimt, and the playwright Arthur Schnitzler, whose La Ronde was the great erotic drama of the fin de siecle. Morton studies these and other gifted young men, interweaving their fates with that of the doomed Prince and the entire city through to the eve of Easter, just after Rudolf's body is lowered into its permanent sarcophagus and a son named Adolf Hitler is born to Frau Klara Hitler."


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"Thunder at Twilight is a landmark of historical vision, drawing on hitherto untapped sources to illuminate two crucial years in the life of the extraordinary city of Vienna—and in the life of the twentieth century. It was during the carnival of 1913 that a young Stalin arrived on a mission that would launch him into the upper echelon of Russian revolutionaries, and it was here that he first collided with Trotsky. It was in Vienna that the failed artist Adolf Hitler kept daubing watercolors and spouting tirades at fellow drifters in a flophouse. Here Archduke Franz Ferdinand had a troubled audience with Emperor Franz Joseph—and soon the bullet that killed the archduke would set off the Great War that would kill ten million more. With luminous prose that has twice made him a finalist for the National Book Award, Frederic Morton evokes the opulent, elegant, incomparable sunset metropolis—Vienna on the brink of cataclysm."
 

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