HEIMITO VON DODERER / Die Dämonen (The Demons)
The action is squeezed between the autumn of 1926 and the summer of 1927 and, from the first moment on, the events lead up to the burning down of the Ministry of Justice, to which Doderer refers as a “crushing blow for Austrian freedom”…
On the cover flaps of his great work Die Dämonen (The Demons) the
following text appears:
“The Demons is one of the most important novels about city life to be
written in this century. Figures from the Viennese upper middle class and the nobility,
workers and intellectuals, mingle with characters from the demi-monde and the underworld
and are woven into an ambivalent social web. Behind the elegant charms of tea parties and
tennis tournaments lurk insecurity, political instability and sexual dissoluteness. The
action is squeezed between the autumn of 1926 and the summer of 1927 and, from the first
moment on, the events lead up to the burning down of the Ministry of Justice, to which
Doderer refers as a “crushing blow for Austrian freedom”…Although the
destinies of the individual characters are connected mostly indirectly with this historic
event, it is part of Doderer’s creative composition that several of their live’s problems
are solved on this day.
Doderer himself regarded The Demons, on which he worked from 1931 to 1940 and
then again from 1951 to 1956, as his main work and constructed Die Strudlhofstiege
(1951) especially to serve as a “ramp” for it.
In The Demons we meet many characters from the Strudlhofstiege again but
the novel also describes the fire at the Ministry of Justice, which marked the beginning
of an increasingly serious conflict between the Conservative and Socialist parties of the time, culminating in the civil war of 1934 and the ensuing authoritarianism of the corporate state. Alongside the gripping story a creative web of multiple strands which are
then unravelled Doderer,as in all his novels, weaves in a second layer of philosophical,
astonishingly direct reflections.
For his own orientation through the complicated network
of the plot, he prepared “blueprints” on a piece of paper, which he then fixed
onto a wooden board.