Chapter

Myths and Silences

Matti Bunzl

in Symptoms of Modernity

Published by University of California Press

Published in print March 2004 | ISBN: 9780520238428
Published online March 2012 | e-ISBN: 9780520937208 | DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.1525/california/9780520238428.003.0002
Myths and Silences

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Eric Fried's analysis of postwar Jewish marginalization had a strongly autobiographical quality. The poet, who was born in Vienna in 1921, had survived the war in London, and like a number of other émigré intellectuals, had contemplated a permanent return to his country of origin. Visits to postwar Vienna, however, proved disappointing, as Fried quickly realized that he would always remain an “outsider or at best a newcomer.” This chapter shows that Fried's experience in post-Holocaust Austria was paradigmatic. In a cultural field constituted in continued abjection of a Jewish Other, there was no conceptual space for real-life Jews. Whether they were “rémigrés” like Fried or post-Holocaust arrivals from Eastern Europe, Austria's Jews faced a state apparatus that systematically excluded them from the national imaginary. That imaginary was no longer predicated on the Jews' genocidal removal, but it still presupposed their foundational absence from the public sphere. Indeed, as symptoms of modernity, postwar Austria's Jews remained unseen during the first decades of the Second Republic. But in their privatized world of cultural difference, they began to develop the counteridentifications that would underwrite their latter-day resistance against the homogenizing forces of the nation-state.

Keywords: Jews; Austria; Eric Fried; postwar Jewish marginalization; cultural difference counteridentification; Jewish Other; modernity

Chapter.  11703 words. 

Subjects: Modern History (1700 to 1945)

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