Other literary forms

(Survey of Novels and Novellas)

Although his fame and reputation as a writer rest on his two major novels, The Sleepwalkers and The Death of Virgil, Hermann Broch (brawk) was in fact a multifaceted author of truly eclectic interests—interests ranging from literature per se in almost every genre to literary criticism, from philosophical and sociopolitical essays to incisive psychological studies of mass hysteria. Broch’s earliest publications were poems and essayistic studies submitted to some of the local journals in Vienna. A sonnet, “Mathematisches Mysterium” (mathematical mysterium), and two essays—one a review of Thomas Mann’s novella Der Tod in Venedig (1912; Death in Venice, 1925)—appeared as early as 1913 in the liberal journal Der Brenner, which was noted for publishing such influential writers of the period as Karl Kraus, Mann, Georg Trakl, Franz Werfel, and Stefan Zweig.

In fact, it was the essay, as a vehicle for the expression of both literary and philosophical thought, that would become Broch’s preferred medium over the years, although one that was long overshadowed in the minds of the reading public by his two major novels. At the end of World War I, in 1919, Broch published the essay “Konstitutionelle Diktatur als demokratisches Rätesystem” (constitutional dictatorship as a democratic soviet-system), which outlines his belief that a sort of Nietzschean will to power was required if constitutional governments were to bring about a true democracy based on humanist, egalitarian ideals. Other important essays of the early 1930’s by Broch include his “Logik einer zerfallenen Welt” (logic of a fallen world) and “Das Böse im Wertsystem der Kunst” (evil in the value system of art); both...

(The entire section is 717 words.)