»Barbara«: Images of Outsiders in Christian Petzold's Film and Hermann Broch's Novella

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Book Chapter

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Publication Title

Aussteigen um 1900: Imaginationen in der Literatur der Moderne


After publishing his first major literary work between 1930 and 1932, the momentous trilogy Die Schlafwandler, Hermann Broch found himself a critically acclaimed author but not a wealthy one. The modest sales expectations of the Rhein-Verlag were difficult to meet, and the economic crisis was taking its toll on his family's financial security, for which he held himself responsible. The early thirties are a whirlwind of production for Broch that displays the range of genres of his work: short stories and novellas, comedies and dramas, essays, novels, trilogies, and even a film script. At the core of Broch's commitment to literature (a commitment that often wavered but never broke) was his belief in the ability of literature to impart ethics. Combined with the rising tide of fascism and his political thought, Broch's next literary project, a novel set in an Alpine village into which a charismatic outsider enters, turned to the question of how a community transforms into an enthralled mass. His challenge: combine his philosophy of history and culture with the rise of fascism and find the appropriate form and setting for analysis without compromising on his expectation of literature based in ethics. The size of this challenge proved too big for the novel. By the completion of the first draft in 1935/6, now known as Die Verzanberung (The Spell), he had already started considering it a larger project, a trilogy to match the one already on the market.


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