Since coming to public notice through major museum catalogues and the work of Carl Schorske around 1980, fin de siecle Vienna has been cast as the final bloom of a dying culture. Yet this assessment is itself a historical construct, deriving from the politics of the twentieth century. This volume argues that "Habsburg nostalgia" is anything but backward looking: instead, images from this glittering Habsburg past become evidence of a culture's sophisticated sense of how and why history is made, in both official and popular spheres. Including the first translation of an original account of Crown Prince Rudolf's suicide at Mayerling in 1889, Belle Necropolis argues for Austria's continued reuse of its own history to point the way toward the future rather than simply memorializing a past that only exists as living memories of shared stories, not as a truth in itself. Case studies included here range from imperial stereotypes before 1900 through their adaptations in the film 1. April 2000 and today's musicals, and from the politics of representing Austria since Rebecca West up through Schorske's master narrative of the Ringstrasse. Through these studies, Habsburg culture emerges as a culture of commemoration that uses its own past to overcome the limits of a small country seeking a role on the contemporary world stage.
Katherine Arens received her PhD from the Departments of German Studies and Humanities at Stanford University. Currently she is a professor in the Department of Germanic Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. Dr. Arens served as past president of the Austrian Studies Association and member of the European Academy of Sciences and Arts and has written widely on Austrian and German intellectual and cultural history and minority discourses.