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Viennese Short Stories

Viennese Short Stories

By Veza Canetti

The rediscovery of the writings of Veza Canetti (1897-1963) was one of the literary events of the 1990s in German-speaking Europe. In her stories Canetti shows a taste for the grotesque, a commitment to the underdog, a forensic understanding of the psychology of wives trapped in traditional marriages, as well as wit and irony. Viennese Short Stories assembles the fiction Canetti published in her lifetime between 1932-1937 aside from her two novels (The Yellow Street and The Tortoises). These stories appeared in Viennese newspapers, first the socialistic Arbeiter-Zeitung and, after its closure, in exile journals and, finally, adopting a rather different tone and style, in the censored press of the "corporate state" under Chancellor Kurt von Schuschnigg. She writes about women as wives, daughters, and employees, about working-class children who are taught the harsh rules of middle-class life at an early age, about the street violence during the workers' revolt in February 1934, and the lowly status of maids. Her favorite pseudonym, Veza Magd (maid), showed her allegiance to this marginalized group, whose sense of ethics underscores their dignity, which Canetti champions. She has an acute eye for the dynamics of power in human relationships, be they based on differences in class or sex or both. She is moralistic and engaged but funny; her stories are traditional rather than Chekhovian in their twists of plot and use of the final punchline.In his introduction Julian Preece shows how Veza Canetti was an unrivaled observer of the life of the Viennese poor on the eve of Nazism. Until now Veza Canetti's literary career was overshadowed by her more famous husband, Elias Canetti (1905-1994, Nobel Prize, 1981). His failure to tell the world of her work until shortly before his death, made her two novels, three plays, and short stories even more intriguing.

Ariadne Press
119 pages
Paperback
ISBN 9781572411487

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