Managing the Literary Household: Writing Haushalt in Broch's Early Work

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Book Chapter

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Publication Title

Hermann Broch und die Ökonomie


On December 22, 1931, after writing often to Edwin and Willa Muir over the course of that year about their translation of his first major literary accomplishment, Die Schlafwandler (The Sleepwalkers), Broch writes Willa about something other than literature. The letter marks a shift in the content of their correspondence from the professional to the personal:

Ich will Sie nicht anjammern, aber da Sie sich nach meiner Biographie erkundigt haben, so kann ich es Ihnen sagen, weil es aus der Biographie entspringt: geboren, weil sich dies leider nicht vermeiden läßt, am 1. Nov. 1886, innerhalb eines kaufmännisch-industriellen Milieus, noch vor meiner Geburt zum Spinner, Weber und Cottondrucker bestimmt.

Broch does exactly what he says he does not want to do: whine. As he explains, he spent much of his life preparing for and in a career that was not his calling. As the elder of two sons, Broch attends technical school and spends his early adult life working in the administration and on the board of the family textile manufacturing firm outside of Vienna in Teesdorf, Austria. Although Broch's tone in the letter to Willa Muir seems to bemoan his situation, he goes on to explain that he would not change the life that he led, except for the burdensome task of supporting the larger Broch family. Indeed, as he notes, it is this burden that has become a particularly heavy one during the financial crisis of the first Austrian Republic: "Und hätte ich nicht für so viel Leute die Verantwortung, so würde ich mich nicht einen Augenblick um die österreichische Krise kümmern, sondern einfach ruhig weiterarbeiten [...]" (KW 13/1, S. 167). Broch's letter, written to a woman who becomes his confidante, summarizes a narrative of the central and ongoing conflict in his life: economics, finances, and family life.


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