Graz Group

   / Grazer Gruppe
   In 1958, several young intellectuals, architects, and artists in the Styrian capital proposed to convert the once elegant, but now shabby, Cafe Stadtpark in the heart of the city into a center for experimental literature and art. After four years of critical exchange and discussion in their new meeting place, the writers of the movement decided to call themselves the Grazer Gruppe. In this way, they declared their intention to set themselves off from Gruppe 47 (Group 47), the loose but powerful gathering of German writers—Heinrich Böll, Günther Grass, Hans Magnus Enzensberger, and others—who had dominated German-language literature since the end of World War II. The Graz Group counted among its numbers the dramatist Wolfgang Bauer (1941–2005) and novelists and poets Alfred Kolleritsch (1931–), Günter Waldorf (1931–), Barbara Frischmuth, and Gerhard Roth (1942–). For Peter Handke, arguably the best-known member of the Graz movement, the work of the Germans, particularly their prose, was excessively weighted toward a descriptive realism focusing on the representation and examination of social and political fact. Nor did Handke have much use for the then-iconic German Marxist dramatist, Bertolt Brecht. From Handke’s standpoint, Brecht’s work offered little more than trite situations packaged in left-wing clichés. It was the dynamics of language itself, argued Handke and his cohorts, that created the comedy and drama of a given text. The group did not stress the content of novels, short stories, and plays, as much as it did innovative intent. Their journal, manuskripte, which first appeared as a handout in 1960, developed under the editorship of Kolleritsch and Roth into the chief outlet for experimental writing in German. The Graz Group’s aesthetic had a social, political, and wider cultural agenda. Nevertheless, its thrust was broadly contrarian and not specifically ideological. Like conventional radicals among their countrymen, they wished to purge Austrian literary and artistic life of all longing for the monarchy and the conservative ethos that went along with it. But the group also declared war on the sentimentalism often found in depictions of country life and rural society. In the writing of the Graz Group, the working class could be equally unheroic, especially in domestic circumstances.
   See also Vienna Group.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

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