Biography (Cyclopedia of World Authors, Fourth Revised Edition)
Many artists and scholars consider Hermann Broch (browk) to be among such great twentieth century writers as James Joyce, André Gide, Franz Kafka, and Thomas Mann. Broch was born to Joseph Broch, a wealthy textile merchant and owner of a spinning mill, and Johanna (Schnabel) Broch, who was from one of Vienna’s distinguished and wealthy families. As was customary at the time, Broch, as the oldest son, was destined to take over the family textile company. Consequently, he attended a modern secondary school, where he studied the natural sciences and French before advancing to the Vienna Institute for Weaving Technology. His period of apprenticeship was served in textile mills in Germany, England, and Bohemia, as well as the United States, in Atlanta, Memphis, and New Orleans. He entered the family business in 1908.
In 1909, he became a reserve officer in the Austrian army and attained the rank of lieutenant. At this time, he converted from the Jewish faith to Catholicism out of social considerations. That same year, he married Franziska (“Fanny”) von Rothermann; they were divorced in 1922. His only child, Hermann Friedrich Broch de Rothermann, was born in 1910.
Working as an unpaid director of the family spinning mill in Teesdorf, a tiny village in Lower Austria, was most disagreeable to Broch. In his nightly solitary hours, Broch began to study philosophy and mathematics, which eventually led him to enroll at the University of Vienna....
(The entire section is 818 words.)
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Biography (Critical Survey of Long Fiction, Fourth Edition)
Hermann Joseph Broch was born in Vienna, Austria, on November 1, 1886, the first son of Joseph Broch, a wealthy Jewish textile manufacturer, and Johanna, née Schnabel, who came from an old and affluent Viennese Jewish family. Three years later, Broch’s brother, Friedrich, was born.
In a symbolic sense, Hermann Broch was very much a child of his times. He grew up in fin de siècle Europe, experiencing all the hopes and fears, the sense of irrevocable loss coupled with the dreams of unlimited fulfillment, then manifest. It was a time of transition, of outward progress, yet it was a time when people began to call into question the very basis of life, which for centuries had rested upon a foundation of unshakable absolutes. To an entire generation that prided itself on its modernity, the nineteenth century must have seemed strangely anachronistic; the fin de siècle was a period of uncertainty and anxiety—the “gay apocalypse,” as Broch himself termed it—one that seemed relativistic and devoid of absolutes. As such, it would leave its stamp on all of Broch’s writing, ultimately finding its most eloquent expression in The Death of Virgil. Further, it is this crisis in values that accounts in large measure for the boundary situations of all of Broch’s fictional characters.
It was in this fragile world that Broch entered adulthood. In 1903, he graduated from the public school system and advanced to the Vienna Institute for...
(The entire section is 1514 words.)