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European History | History | Intellectual History


Gregory Schroeder, History


While much is known about Fin de Siècle Vienna, there has been little study of how it is understood in memory. Up to this point nostalgia for Fin de Siècle Vienna is almost entirely built from the experiences of the male Jewish intellectual. This memory is superimposed on all people who lived in Fin de Siècle Vienna. However other strains go unconsidered, such as from the arts of the age evoking wonder. There is also nostalgia from academics who interpret Fin de Siècle Vienna as a primordial ground for modernity. There is more to this past in memory than meets first glance.

This study therefore seeks to expand our understanding of the memory and the nostalgia held for Fin de Siècle Vienna by using an up-to-date understanding of nostalgia. Supporting the advanced concept of nostalgia is the analysis of a selection of memoirs to give more voices to the firsthand experience of Fin de Siècle Vienna. My paper seeks to argue two points: one is conceptual in the understanding of memory study in history and the other is particular to the nostalgic experience of Fin de Siècle Vienna. Conceptually I argue for memory study, by way of the example from the nostalgia held for Fin de Siècle Vienna, that nostalgia is a central concept to understanding some memories of the past. Particular to Vienna, I argue that the nostalgia for Fin de Siècle Vienna is more than merely the experiences of male Jewish intellectuals. Rather the nostalgias and memories for Fin de Siècle Vienna hold different meanings and are drawn from a variety of sources thus giving different understandings of the memory of Fin de Siècle Vienna in the ages that follow.