I discovered this towering figure of Austrian modernism as I discover most things that come to interest me - entirely by happenstance.
Planning for a now cancelled trip to Vienna, I was re-reading the introduction to J. Sydney Jones' Viennawalks, a well-written, highly detailed guide to traipsing through Vienna. (Gawain, there is a Venicewalks - if it's like Viennawalks, it's worth picking up) .
While mentioning the attractions in Vienna's ninth district, he mentions the Strudlhofsteige, and in doing so, mentions "that great Austrian novelist Heimito von Doderer, something of a Viennese interwar James Joyce." lived nearby. Indeed, he wrote a novel entitled Die Strudlhofsteige.
An Austrian interwar James Joyce? Jonesy, you had me at Heimito.
I shall refer you, dear reader, to this for the details of Heimito von Doderer's life. Better yet, like most Austro-Germanic figures of even minor renown, he has his own society, from whose site you can download some of his short stories.
But I'm not here to read his short stories. Nein nein, nein nein - I'm here to read The Demons, Doderer's epic tome, which beats the blind pervert's Ulysses in a page count by a solid 396 leaves. It's all about size.
Why am I doing this? Well, "Why does anyone blog at all?", I answer.
If nothing else, I'm hoping that I finish the book, and perhaps along the way make a minor contribution to raising Doderer's profile. And by trying something off the beaten track, I'm able to take some liberties that reading Finnegans Wake or À la recherche du temps perdu wouldn't allow.
In other words, no one's going to try to write a term paper off the potentially facile hack job I'm about to perform. And that my friends, is reason enough.