Hugo von Hofmannsthal had a lifelong fascination with the 'theatrum mundi' topos. Judith Beniston analyses his changing responses to it against an unfamiliar backdrop - the revival of Catholic drama which, from the 1890s onwards, accompanied the rise of Austria's Christian Socialist party. The solipsism of 'Jung Wien' and the conservative modernism of the Salzburg Festival are juxtaposed with the career of Richard von Kralik (1852-1934), the key figure in Austria's Catholic literary culture from 1890 to 1934. This study offers close readings of Das kleine Welttheater and Das Salzburger große Welttheater and explores the ramifications of the fascination with the notion of Welttheater which Hofmannsthal and Kralik shared. In juxtaposing elite and popular culture, Beniston sheds new light on a neglected aspect of Austrian cultural history, on the selectivity of Hofmannsthal's approach towards Austria's Baroque tradition, and on the difficulties he faced in his attempt to assimilate his own work into it.

Bithell Series of Dissertations, 23/MHRA Texts and Dissertations, 46
ISBN 978-0-901286-84-0; 293 pp.; 16 December 1997