The Hotel as Setting in Early Twentieth-Century German and Austrian Literature

The Hotel as Setting in Early Twentieth-Century German and Austrian Literature

Checking in to Tell a Story

Bettina Matthias


Camden House



The employment of the hotel as a setting for literary works of the period and the cultural reasons behind it.
As the bourgeois concept of "home" became problematic after important changes in German-speaking society during the 19th century, many fiction writers chose the literary setting of the hotel to explore the status of the individual and the notions of public and private. As social microcosms, hotels are fitting experimental settings for literary inquiries into the tension between the individual's quest for a place in the world and the technocratic rationalism of modern life. The book has two parts, the first establishing the cultural and theoretical context and the second providing analyses of literary works set in hotels. A brief history of commercial hospitality and a chapter establishing the theoretical framework of the hotel as a paradigmatic, ambivalent, semi-public, and stage-like modern space lead to readings of texts by Schnitzler, Zweig, Werfel, Kafka, Thomas Mann, Joseph Roth, and Vicki Baum.

Bettina Matthias is Associate Professor of German at Middlebury College.


August 2006
232 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571133212
Format: Hardback
Library eBook
Camden House
BISAC LIT004170, HIS014000
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Table of Contents

The History of European Commercial Hospitality
The Hotel and Hotel Culture in Modernism--Some Critical Thoughts
Players and Places: Stock Elements of Hotel Culture and Fiction
Women in Hotels
Men in Hotels
Menschen im Hotel


(...) Bettina Matthias's study offers an informative, well-researched, and useful resource that expands our understanding of how authors employed hotel spaces to encapsulate the exploding crises of modernity .... MODERN AUSTRIAN LITERATURE

This entertaining and original monograph is part creative non-fiction and part engaging scholarship.... Matthias presents here an original and lively contribution to interdisciplinary German studies, one which should be part of any library's collection.... MONATSHEFTE

(A) fascinating and enlightening read.. With the goal of constructing a place of reflection not only on the hotel novel, but also about the idea of the hotel as a site of social-cultural discourse, it fills a gap in literary and cultural critical scholarship. GERMAN STUDIES REVIEW

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