Framed by Language

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Despite her wide-ranging literary production (spanning award-winning plays and novels, plays that unleash major theater scandals, screenplays, and many other genres), which has escalated her to the forefront of the Austrian literary scene, Elfriede Jelinek (born 1946) is still scarcely known to the English-speaking world. To date, only three of her books, The Piano Teacher (1988), Wonderful Wonderful Times (1990), and Lust (1992) have been translated. The essays collected here demonstrate the range and significance of this major literary voice, addressing Jelinek as a master of modernist prose, of postmodern critiques of literary genres, of stage and screen, and of feminist and antifascist criticism. Jelinek's oeuvre encompasses reworkings of older literary genres (reminiscent of Joyce Carol Oates), refashioned as contemporary criticism of domestic violence, pornography, oppression of women, or the continuance of the fascist legacy in the everyday world of contemporary Austria and Germany. Her experiments on the stage and screen are as eerily evocative as the works of Robert Wilson, yet deliver trenchant political and social critiques, as their shared modernist and postmodern agendas would require. Her questioning and use of language continues the distinctively Austrian tradition more familiar from Hugo von Hofmannsthal, Karl Kraus, and Peter Handke, yet drawing its unique inspiration from a range of other sources, including Martin Heidegger. Elfriede Jelinek introduces herself in this volume with an essay on translation. The remaining contributions by eminent scholars from both Europe and the United States illuminate Jelinek's writings through discussions of her major works. Thesecritical analyses and their attendant bibliographies make Jelinek's fascinating and significant literary world available to English-speaking readers for the first time.