At the very beginning of the Eighties, exactly in 1981, the Viennese by adoption E. Canetti (b.1905) was awarded the Nobel Prize, a belated and in truth disputed consecration for an author who had given the best of himself (and for this in fact was rewarded) several decades earlier, presenting in unmistakable terms the dissociating madness of Central European man in the confused and threatening years that heralded the catastrophe of a second world conflict. But for too long, in practice always, Canetti had been totally isolated, in his stable exile in London, for such a coveted recognition to be more than a strictly personal fact; and beyond any contact with currents or movements of any weight and nature promoted in the Austrian context, Canetti’s most recent publications also remain, Die Fackel im Ohr, 1980; Das Augenspiel, 1985; Das Geheimherz der Uhr, 1987).
More linked to Austrian literary events, even if they too operate elsewhere, the ever rebellious E. Fried (1921-1988), a kind of K. Kraus of his generation, narrator and above all lyricist with harsh content (among the many titles, the collections Zur Zeit und zur Unzeit, 1981; Das Nahe suchen, 1982; Es ist was es ist, 1983; Behunruigungen, 1984; Vorübungen für Wunder, 1987), and the experimentalist G. Rühm (b. 1930), at the time exponent of the so-called Wiener Gruppe and today still active close to the dialect in editing operations not aimed at themselves (Vernebelungen, 1980).
According to EDUCATIONVV.COM, what in more blatant terms compares these ‘exiled’ authors to other ‘residents’ is the claim to go beyond the literary or even purely cultural sphere with literary tools, with the aim of expanding towards revisions, even radical ones, of much wider involvement.. It is a clear-cut position in the usual dispute between tradition and renewal which, deeply felt, and vividly and even artificially experienced in Austria perhaps more than elsewhere in the 1960s and 1970s, continues in the 1980s, albeit in part weakened, having as protagonists still the main authors who recognize themselves in the initiatives linked to the city of Graz, which has thus become a new political-cultural center alternative to the center of all time, which is obviously Vienna. And if, compared to the past decades, those of the pioneer, the polemical solicitations are reduced, in equal measure the picture is frayed and articulated, giving space to supplementary if not really alternative requests. First, also through the avant-garde magazine manuskripte, from Graz the experimentation was predominantly promoted and favored, especially if in opera; now, on the other hand, more space is given to realism, always alongside formalistic digressions of various kinds, against the background of a social commitment that continues to be proclaimed, however, in the reductivity induced by the progressive advance, even in Austria, of a literature interested in the subject, in the point to give space to confession and autobiographical testimony. All this while, as a constant, on the one hand everything that is considered ‘specific’ Austrian remains as a polemical pole, that is self-satisfied provincialistic narrowness and a link to a confessional heritage aesthetically expressed along the secular and never broken line of the persistent reference to the Baroque, and ‘
Almost all authors have already worked on these directives, and some have been working for a long time, such as the lyricist E. Jandl (b.1925), aggressive and multifaceted in his mimetic artificiality (in the lyrics of der gelbe hund, 1980, and of selbstporträt des schachspielers als trinkende uhr, 1983, as well as in the fanciful ‘spoken work’ Aus der Fremde, 1980, based entirely on the use of the subjunctive); or as F. Mayröcker (b.1924), who promotes a poetic phenomenology that exalts verbal creativity in a stimulating game of effects (Gute Nacht, guten Morgen, 1982; Winterglück, 1986, and, in a prose always poetically structured, Die Abschiede, 1980, as well as the autobiographies Das Herzzerreissende der Dinge, 1985, and mein Herz, mein Zimmer, mein Name, 1988); or like Austria Kollerisch (b. 1931), who clearly tends towards a poem of memory tinged with melancholy and even resignation (Im Vorfeld der Augen, 1982; Abstürz ins Glück, 1983; Augenlust, 1986); or as P. Turrini, of an Italian father (b. 1944), advocate of a realism more strongly than in others marked by political stimuli (Ein paar Schritte zurück, and In meinem Kopf schreit es, 1980); or like J. Schutting (b.1937), whose lyrics (Liebesgedichte, 1982; Traumreden, 1987) reconfirm its serious reflexive character on the themes of language, albeit skilfully elaborated.
On other shores there are other authors, also very different from each other, who, although generally with less fanfare, stand out with original accents, such as G. Amanshauser (b.1928), thrifty also in lyric as in other genres (Gedichte, 1986), disenchanted observer, also by virtue of an unusual formal rigor, of a reality that does not gratify him but from which he cannot distance himself beyond the limit of ironic wisdom; or like B. Schwaiger (b. 1949), who after very promising beginnings as a storyteller later tried, still with success, the way of intimate lyricism (Mit einem möcht ‘ich leben, 1987). And there is also a momentary return to opera, its initial location, of Th. Bernhard (1931- 1989), in the hymn to its celebratory way Ave Vergil (1981) and in its symptomatic revival of the apocalyptic lament launched in the short youth cycle in hora mortis (1987).