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Viewing Single Post From: Claudio Magris
May 27 2008, 06:39 AM
Yes your confusion is due to the flabbiness of the words "left" and "right" as applicable to politics, and this includes a general flabbiness and a certain relativity, 'center' in the US, for instance, would be (slightly) 'right-wing' in Germany. 'center' in France, in most respects, would be (slighty) 'left-wing' in Germany. Italy appears to be very hard to calculate in these terms...

So anything I say is due to the right/left-dichotomy as Germans use it. I have no idea about Belgium. Now. a second caveat. The book is a work of fiction, which means I didn't say that Magris was strongly right-wing, his speaker is. As I haven't read anything else of his I have no way of approximating his distance to his speaker in that book.

That said, the book combines many attitudes typical of the conservative mindset. I can only point you to German quotes, like the one above, and it's not individual quotes, really, it's the combined weight of the book, the recurring pressing of the same points. There are particularly salient passages, like the one above or one involving D'Annunzio.

It's not right-wing enough to be actually fascist, it actually denounces fascism in a mild way repeatedly. It's like Thomas Mann pre-1920, or Hofmannsthal (whom being right-wing cost the Nobel Prize, which went to Mann who had -by then- converted to left wingish/center politics, at least in some respects), or even like Hermann Löns. Or, to leave German lit, somewhat like the Fugitives/Agrarians (strong emphasis on the 'somewhat' here).

Was that confusing?

btw. in OUR political spectrum you can be right wing and still pro-Europe.

I thought as much regarding your second caveat.

However, from what you're saying it would appear to me as being a cultural conservatism rather than a political one. I know they can go hand in hand but I do know quite a few persons that are politically on the left while conservative when it comes to culture -- those I know personally have the same profile as Magris: academics in or around their sixties.

Regarding pro-Europe & right wing, you're right but a multicultural, tolerant, no border Europe, replacing in the mid-term the Nation states is not the kind of europhile attitude encountered amongst the europhile right.

Anyway, I shall read Magris soon enough I guess -- Italy is another weak point among many weak points I have.

Regarding Sebald, I like him but I was not as taken by Vertigo or Austerlitz as I was by The rings of Saturn. Now, this really is a fantastic book, so much so that if I believed in perfection, I would call it almost perfect. It's constructions is particularly impressive and Sebald has a real talent to fascinate the reader with something that would initially appear meaningless.
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Claudio Magris · Continental European writers