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Situated on the cusp of West and East, between the foothills of the Alps and the mighty 'Blue Danube', Vienna has long presented authors with a wealth of material for stories that entertain and intrigue. The city's famous quality of life and rich variety of cultural offerings is apparent here at every turn, but so too is its darker side, whether it be the Viennese obsession with death and decay or the dramatic, tragic events of its twentieth-century history. In stories from the early to mid-nineteenth century in particular, the city stands for wine, women and song, for a laid-back - - perhaps somewhat lax?- - outlook on life that is invariably linked to its location as German culture's southernmost centre. In more recent tales, the theme of the good life and of Vienna's beauty continues, but there are very few authors who do not dwell on elements of darkness or melancholy. Indeed, from the mid-twentieth century onward, death itself seems to have become literature's preferred guide to the city.
The collection concentrates on stories set at the city's margins. The tales are arranged geographically rather than chronologically, around and through the city from west to east and back again. We begin and end with Arthur Schnitzler and Joseph Roth, two authors already indelibly associated with Vienna, but represented here by little-known gems, translated for the first time. Other authors include stars of Vienna's nineteenth century feuilleton journalism - Heinrich Laube, Ferdinand Kurnberger, Adalbert Stifter - but also the most recent generation of Viennese writers, Doron Rabinovici, Eva Menasse, Dimitre Dinev, with tales as yet unknown in English.
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