Heimito von Doderer Biography


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Heimito von Doderer was born on September 5, 1896, in the small town of Weidlingau, near the city of Vienna, Austria. He was the youngest of six children of Wilhelm Ritter von Doderer and Luise Wilhelmine von Doderer. He grew up and went to school in Vienna. In the fall of 1914, he matriculated as a law student at the University of Vienna.

In 1915, Doderer entered the military service and advanced to the rank of lieutenant. The following summer he was taken prisoner of war in Russia, where he was interned in various camps in Siberia and East Asia. In 1920, he fled from a camp and walked from the Kirghiz Steppe back to Vienna. He resumed his studies at the university, now in history and psychology. He earned a doctorate in medieval history in 1925.

Doderer started to write in 1916 and continued while a prisoner of war. In the 1920’s he managed to publish some of his poetry and short stories, but he failed to gain widespread recognition. In the late 1920’s he supported himself primarily by writing historical feuilletons for various Vienna newspapers. In 1929, Doderer encountered the work of the writer and painter Albert Paris Gütersloh, a profound experience that was to guide him as a writer and thinker for the remainder of his life. He articulated the influence that this artist had on him in the monograph Der Fall Gütersloh (1930; the Gütersloh case).

The 1930’s were important but turbulent years. In 1930, Doderer...

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(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Heimito von Doderer was born Franz Carl Heimito Ritter von Doderer on September 5, 1896, in Weidlingau, near Vienna. His father was Wilhelm Ritter von Doderer, a government architect and the builder of the Karawankenbahn and other Alpine railways. Doderer spent his youth in Vienna, where he attended secondary school. During World War I, he served as an officer of the Dragoons in the imperial Austrian army. In 1916, he was captured on the Russian front and spent the next four years in various prisoner-of-war camps in Siberia.

In 1920, Doderer escaped from Siberia by walking across the Kirghiz Steppe. He returned to Vienna and studied history and psychology at the university there. In 1921, he wrote his first novel, Die Bresche (pb. 1924), and in 1925, he received his doctorate in history. Beginning in 1927, he wrote for several newspapers, an activity that he gave up in 1931 to devote himself exclusively to his own literary production. In 1930, Doderer married Gusti Hasterlik; they were divorced in 1934. In 1933, he joined the outlawed Austrian National Socialist Party. When he moved to Munich in 1936, however, he came into direct contact with the political reality of Nazi Germany, particularly since he could find lodgings only in Dachau, a Munich suburb that was the site of a concentration camp. When he returned to Vienna shortly before the Anschluss, Doderer left the National Socialist Party and warned his Jewish friends of the impending danger....

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(Great Authors of World Literature, Critical Edition)

All the important works of the Austrian novelist Heimito von Doderer (DOH-duh-rur) were written during his mature years, in the second half of his life, even though the experimental works written during his early years definitely predicted his great talent. Franz Carl Heimito Ritter von Doderer was born in 1896 in what is today a district of Vienna. His father, Wilhelm Ritter von Doderer, was a wealthy contractor; his grandfather had been ennobled in 1877 for his contributions to the field of architecture; and his mother, Luise Wilhelmine, née von Hügel, also belonged to the Austrian nobility. After attending the Gymnasium, Doderer enrolled at the University of Vienna in 1914 in order to study law. He was called into military service, however, and fought at the Russian front, where he was taken prisoner. Doderer worked in several Russian prison camps, escaped in 1920, and on foot returned to Vienna from the Kirgiz Steppes.

From 1920 to 1925 he studied history and psychology and earned a doctorate in history for his dissertation on bourgeois historiography in Vienna during the fifteenth century. His first publications were a book of poems, Gassen und Landschaft (alleys and landscape), and short prose pieces about his war experiences. Between 1927 and 1931, he wrote many articles for newspapers, as well as his so-called divertimenti, short prose pieces written expressly for his own public readings. Doderer became an admirer of the artist Albert Paris Gütersloh (a pseudonym for Albert Kiehtreiber, 1887-1973) after reading his autobiography. He venerated Gütersloh all of his life, and throughout Doderer’s works one can find Gütersloh quotations. Doderer also created a literary monument to Gütersloh in the figure of Kyrill Scolander in The Demons.

In 1933, Doderer joined Adolf Hitler’s Nazi Party, when that organization was still illegal in Austria, but he left it in 1938, at the time of Austria’s subsumption into the German Reich. For two years Doderer lived in Germany, where he came in contact with the publishing house of C. H. Beck. His novel Every Man a Murderer was published in 1938. In it, the protagonist, Conrad Castiletz, goes to great lengths to discover who murdered his sister-in-law (secretly the great love of his life), who died mysteriously during a train ride, only to discover that he caused her death.

In 1940 Doderer converted to...

(The entire section is 993 words.)