Sunday, May 30, 2010

Hofmannsthal's habit

Charles Rosen's essay Radical, Modern Hofmannsthal in The New York Review of Books ($) includes this.
Hofmannsthal himself held back from radical modernism, not for lack of sympathy, as his remarks in the 1920s on Rimbaud and Mallarmé show, but he could not bring himself to go as far as they had ventured. His social philosophy became very conservative, although his views had basically an aesthetic cast; he was buried, at his request, costumed as a Franciscan friar. Nevertheless, as editor of a literary magazine, he was the first to publish a major essay by Walter Benjamin, who aroused his enthusiasm.
Though I have not seen anything indicating Hofmannsthal was a Third Order Franciscan, "costumed" does not quite capture the circumstances described in Hofmannsthal's Wikipedia entry.
His later plays revealed a growing interest in religious, particularly Roman Catholic, themes. Among his writings was a screenplay for a film version of Der Rosenkavalier (1925) directed by Robert Wiene.

On July 13, 1929, his son Franz committed suicide. Two days later, Hofmannsthal himself died of a stroke at Rodaun (now part of Liesing). He was buried wearing the habit of a Franciscan tertiary, as he had requested.

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