Viertel, Berthold

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VIERTEL, BERTHOLD (1885–1953), Austrian writer, stage and film director, essayist, and translator. Viertel was a cofounder and dramatic supervisor of the Volksbuehne in his native Vienna (1912–14) and later directed plays in Dresden as well as in Berlin and Duesseldorf. He also contributed to the satirical weekly Simplicissimus and to Karl *Kraus' Die Fackel, in which his first poems appeared. He wrote a study of the satirist, Karl Kraus, ein Charakter und die Zeit (1921). His comedy Die schoene Seele appeared in 1925, and a novel, Das Gnadenbrot, in 1927. Of far greater importance, however, was his lyric poetry. He produced four volumes of verse: Die Spur (1913), Die Bahn (1921), Fuerchte dich nicht! Neue Gedichte (1941), and Der Lebenslauf (1946). From 1928 to 1931, Viertel was a movie director in Hollywood and from 1933 he worked in London and broadcast anti-Nazi programs over the bbc. Christopher Isherwood's short novel, Prater Violet, is regarded by many as a roman à clef about Viertel. He settled in the United States in 1939, but in 1947 returned to Vienna, where he directed plays at the Burgtheater, including his own translations of Tennessee Williams' The Glass Menagerie and A Streetcar Named Desire. He was especially noted for his productions of expressionist dramas. After his death his collected works appeared in the volumes Dichtung und Dokumente (1956), Schriften zum Theater (1970), Die Ueberwindung des Uebermenschen (1989), and Berthold Viertel: Studienausgabe in vier Baende (1994). Among the collections of his poems are the books Dass ich in dieser Sprache schreibe (1981) and Das graue Tuch (1994). Viertel's recollections were gathered in the book Kindheit eines Cherub (1991).


Berthold Viertel… zur 80; Wiederkehr seines Geburtstages (1965; incl. bibl.). add. bibliography: J. Mayerhoefer, Berthold Viertel (1975); F. Pfaefflin (ed.), Berthold Viertel (1969); I. Jansen, Berthold Viertel (1992); S. Bolbecher et al. (eds.), Traum von der Realitaet (1998); N. Weiss (ed.), Berthold Viertel zum hundertzwanzigsten Geburtstag (2005).

[Harry Zohn /

Noam Zadoff (2nd ed.)]

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Viertel, Berthold

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