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This article is taken from PN Review 155, Volume 30 Number 3, January - February 2004.

The Vienna Paradox (extracts) Marjorie Perloff

These chapters are adapted from Chapter 1 and the epilogue of The Vienna Paradox (New York: New Directions, at press), Marjorie Perloff's memoir cum cultural meditation about her Viennese origins and emigration to the United States as a child of six. The prologue, `Seductive Vienna', asks the following questions: how can one reconcile the `élitist' Kulturdrang of upper-class assimilated Viennese Jews of the early twentieth century to the demands of American democracy? What price did this Kulturdrang exact in anti-Semitic Vienna - a Vienna that nevertheless continues to be a seductive presence in the author's life? Perloff's first name, as she explains in the prologue, was Gabriele; she became Marjorie only in 1944, when she became a U.S. citizen and was allowed to make a legal name change. The prologue deals with general issues. Chapter 1 takes up the emigration itself, with subsequent chapters exploring the transformations undergone by Gabriele-Marjorie and her family.

Chapter 1
Anschluss: March 1938

A frontier is a division between countries. A history of a country is not a history of the changing of frontiers although many think so particularly those near the frontier the history of a country is why they like things which they have and which they do not exchange for other things for which they do not care.
            Gertrude Stein, History or Messages from History (1930)1

If we think of the world's future, we always mean where it will be if it ...


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