Authenticity and the critique of the tourism industry in postwar Austrian literature

by Sathe, Nikhil Anand

Abstract (Summary)
Examining three postwar Austrian works that reflect on the impacts of the tourism industry, this project argues that the texts employ a concept of authenticity to censure the industry, to address questions of national identity, and to pursue aesthetic or thematic concerns. The authors construct authenticity as threatened by tourism through its negative effects on people and place. While theorists of tourism recognize shortcomings of this concept, such as its assumption of a culture's previous stability, this project contends that authenticity is a rhetorical construction that remains integral for an understanding of the three texts. Charged by tensions between an idealized and an actual condition, authenticity serves the artists' critique by dramatizing what tourism erodes and by functioning as a vehicle with which they foreground figures experiencing an instability of meaning, which thus raises questions regarding personal or collective identities. Hans Lebert's Der Feuerkreis (1971) envisions an industry that creates false representations of Austria, which camouflages Nazi complicity, and that places Austrian hosts in a servile relationship, which Lebert constructs as an impediment to a national consciousness. Portraying an individual's tragic life in a resort, Norbert Gstrein's Einer (1988) employs authenticity as a contrast indicating the central character's alienation as he struggles with the frayed social conditions in the village. By replicating structures of touristic display on a narrative level, Gstrein then reinforces his critique of both the host's predicament and biographical representation. Robert Menasse's novel Schubumkehr (1995) juxtaposes its protagonist's identity crisis with the events surrounding the conversion of a destitute village into a resort, presenting the result of both processes as a state of inauthenticity. These radical deviations allow Menasse's indictment of the negative consequences of tourism and his criticism of traditional concepts of history. This study shows that authenticity serves different purposes in each author's projects, but has a consistent function in the critique of tourism. Authenticity emerges as a means of finding fault with this industry because it highlights differences resulting from radical changes and because it facilitates broader questions of identity by revealing uncertainties about who one is or should be.
Bibliographical Information:


School:The Ohio State University

School Location:USA - Ohio

Source Type:Master's Thesis

Keywords:austrian literature german relationship to national identity tourism and authenticity austria


Date of Publication:01/01/2003

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