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Return to Vienna: A Journal

Return to Vienna: A Journal

By Hilde Spiel 
Translated by Christine Shuttleworth 
Afterword by Jacqueline Vansant  

In Austrian literary circles, Hilde Spiel (1911-1990) is known as the grande dame of post-war Austrian literature. Published widely in both English and German, she is remembered as a critic, essayist, and prose writer. Spiel left Austria for London in October 1936 to join Peter de Mendelssohn, who had asked her to marry him. While her initial move to London was by choice, the German Anschluss in March 1938 made return to Austria impossible, at least while the National Socialists were in power.

In this book Spiel chronicles her return trip to Austria in January 1946, in British uniform as a war correspondent for the New Statesman, after a ten-year absence. The author approaches Vienna with feelings of trepidation and estrangement. Expecting a difficult reunion, she prepares herself mentally. However, her steely resolve is worn down through the confrontation with her former haunts. As she travels through the city, Spiel compares the post-war ruins and the population with the city she knew from her youth. The contrast reveals her ambivalence toward Austria and the Austrians. At the same time, she presents a microcosm of Vienna, highlighting the ways in which many non-Jewish Austrians saw themselves as victims. Return to Vienna captures the feelings of a person caught between two worlds, belonging to both and to neither. This position allows Spiel to step back and reflect on both worlds.  

128 pages
Ariadne Press, 2011
5.5 x 0.5 x 8.2 inches
ISBN 9781572411777
Austrian History, Memoir 

$19.50 $19.50