Heimito von Doderer Analysis


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Heimito von Doderer is the undisputed master of the modern Austrian novel. Although not a writer of mystery and detective fiction in the narrow sense of the term, Doderer, like Fyodor Dostoevski, adapted the conventions of the genre to his own ends. In his novels, as in Dostoevski’s, crime and detection have a metaphysical significance. Doderer’s readers must themselves become “detectives,” able to distinguish between different levels of reality. In his short fiction as well, Doderer reveals the influence of the mystery genre; his treatment of the mysterious and the supernatural is in the tradition of Edgar Allan Poe.

Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

In addition to novels, Heimito von Doderer (DOHD-ehr-ur) published several volumes of short stories, poems, aphorisms, and essays, as well as his diary for the period from 1940 to 1950.


(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

The mention of Heimito von Doderer’s name among people familiar with German literature invariably evokes the image of Austria, particularly of the last few decades of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which ceased to exist in 1918, and of the first Austrian Republic, which came to an end when Adolf Hitler annexed it to Germany in 1938. Doderer’s major novels contain not only detailed and loving depictions of the Austrian landscapes and of the cityscape of Vienna but also fascinating social panoramas of these singularly troubled periods in the country’s history. Perhaps most important, these social panoramas are made up of characters whose personalities reflect the author’s deeply felt concerns about the essence of modern humanity.


(Masterpieces of Fiction, Detective and Mystery Edition)

Bachem, Michael. Heimito von Doderer. Boston: Twayne, 1981. Contains biography as well as close analysis of Doderer’s works and a bibliography of primary and secondary sources.

Dassanowsky, Robert von. Review of The Lighted Windows. Southern Humanities Review 35 (Fall, 2001). Reviews the republication of Doderer’s novel, with notes and forward by John S. Barrett.

Hesson, Elizabeth. Twentieth Century Odyssey: A Study of Heimito von Doderer’s “Die Dämonen.” Columbia, S.C.: Camden House, 1983. A thorough study of Doderer’s most important work.

Jones, David L. “Heimito von Doderer and Man’s ‘Existential Fear.’” Papers on Language and Literature 20 (Spring, 1984). A psychological/philosophical analysis.

Kling, Vincent. Afterword to A Person Made of Porcelain, and Other Stories, by Heimito von Doderer. Riverside, Calif.: Ariadne Press, 2005. Useful commentary on Doderer’s short fiction.

Pfeiffer, Engelbert. The Writer’s Place: Heimito von Doderer and the Alsergrund District of Vienna. Translated by Vincent Kling. Riverside, Calif.: Ariadne Press, 2001. Study of the neighborhood in which Doderer lived and its importance to understanding his work.