University of Minnesota, Center for Austrian Studies
This article is an introduction to the proletarian literature writer Alfons Petzold’s autobiography "Das rauhe Leben."
Jobs, and the search for jobs, were the primary focus of the autobiography, just as it was the main content of Petzold’s life. Petzold came from a very poor family. The jobs Petzold had were miserable hard labor, poorly paid, and did not require very high level of intelligent. Because of poverty, his family moved often. After Petzold’s father died, Petzold and his mother lived in dark, damp, and dirty one room apartment. By the age of 20, Petzold’s mother died also, and he was on his own. If he had been out of work for months, he either lived in cheap and dirty public hostel, or became homeless. He once even descended at night into the sewage tunnels under the city. Even under this kind of living condition, Petzold read lots of classics, e. g. Goethe, etc. He also started writing poetry at an early age. For Petzold, all the knowledge of poverty and hardship was first-hand, and his poetry reveals the strength of lived experience Petzold tried out various political and religious stances, but eventually felt disappointed by both. His works were not well received by the Socialists, or by the Fascists. After the rise of Austrofacism, his works were published only after heavy editing. To study Petzold’s poetry and prose fiction, we must be wary of projecting bourgeois values onto them. New criteria must be developed for viewing proletarian literature on its own terms, in the context its origins and intended purposes of the time.
Bjorklund, B. 2003. Working-Class Literature: Petzold’s Das Rauhes Leben. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota, Center for Austrian Studies. Working Paper 03-1.
Working-Class Literature: Petzold’s Rauhes Leben.
University of Minnesota, Center for Austrian Studies.
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