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The Naked TruthViennese Modernism and the Body$
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Alys X. George

Print publication date: 2020

Print ISBN-13: 9780226669984

Published to Chicago Scholarship Online: January 2021

DOI: 10.7208/chicago/9780226695006.001.0001

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The Body in Pieces: Viennese Literature’s Anatomies

The Body in Pieces: Viennese Literature’s Anatomies

(p.68) Chapter Two The Body in Pieces: Viennese Literature’s Anatomies
The Naked Truth

Alys X. George

University of Chicago Press

This chapter uncovers a hidden geography of medical institutions in Viennese modernist literature by attending to the body in pieces. From the 1880s to the 1930s, Viennese literature presented the dissecting room as the birthplace of knowledge, and, as under the second Vienna medical school, the corpse was the object on which the search for truth was carried out. Two doctor-writers, Marie Pappenheim and Arthur Schnitzler, employ the trope in this fashion. Their literary texts, in particular Schnitzler’s Dream Story (1925–26), were indebted to their bona fide anatomical training. In the wake of World War I, the corpse came to serve a different, and critical, social function, as in Joseph Roth’s early journalistic work and Carry Hauser’s graphic art. The University of Vienna’s Anatomical Institute subsequently took on dubious social relevance in Ödön von Horváth’s drama Faith, Hope, and Charity (1932), which fictionalizes a Viennese trade in cadavers. The corpse as a central topos in Viennese modernist literature functions as a truth-teller, whether in epistemological or social terms.

Keywords:   anatomy, dissection, corpses, Arthur Schnitzler, Marie Pappenheim, Joseph Roth, Carry Hauser, Ödön von Horváth, veterans, World War I

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