False Dichotomies: Echoes and Foresight in Works by Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach and Hugo Wolf
Kikkert, Andrea Weatherman
GERMAN False Dichotomies: Echoes and Foresight in Works by Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach and Hugo Wolf Andrea Weatherman Kikkert Dissertation under the direction of Professor Barbara Hahn Inspired by the Apollonian and Dionysian characteristics described in Nietzsche's Die Geburt der Tragödie, this dissertation features close readings of select musical and literary works from the late 19th century that wrestle with the complexities of the human condition and serve as examples of creative and receptive aesthetic praxis with real-world implications. I propose that Ebner-Eschenbach's and Wolf's successes with short forms disclose a latent unease in the decades prior to the outright political and cultural upheaval of the early 20th century. The aphorisms, short prose, letters, and songs in this study provided readers and listeners of the late 1800s with pluralistic models for confronting contradictions inherent to life. Drawing openly from their respective traditions, these compositions and writings exploit existing techniques and common forms by using familiar literary and musical elements for purposes contrary to their convention. Through their respective crafts and in the community of friends, these Austrian aesthetes reveal how small forms open a vast realm of possible applications due to their concision, flexibility, and interpretive prospects. Ebner-Eschenbach and Wolf curated with an eye to both the past and present, and this approach endows their publications with resilience in posterity. Because they refused to blindly lend contemporary authority to historical genius, their works themselves assert no such expectations for future reception, entrusting artistic culmination to the disparate interests of readers and listeners. Existing on a scale unimaginable to those of the late 19th century, contemporary challenges and opportunities are worlds away from the late Habsburg Empire, yet such magnitude and volatility demand the very depth, ingenuity, agility, and concentration exemplified by Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach and Hugo Wolf.