Monday, July 24, 2006

City of waltzes and dark nostalgia

CCSU's Dr. Jill Knight Weinberger
is author of new book about Vienna
as the city of waltzes and dark nostalgia

Dr. Jill Knight Weinberger, associate professor of English at Central Connecticut State University, is the author of the new book Vienna Voices - A Traveler Listens to the City of Dreams (Parlor Press, West Lafayette, Indiana).

Presented as "a work of creative nonfiction," Weinberger's book offers a nuanced portrait of the enigmatic "City of Dreams," in which intellectual and artistic culture reached its height at the end of the 19th century, only to be eclipsed in the 20th by the collapse of the Habsburg Empire and the rise of National Socialism.

Inspired by Jill Knight Weinberger's 20-year acquaintance with the city and the story of her husband's family, who as Viennese Jews were forced to flee in 1938, the book portrays two spheres of acquaintance with Vienna. There is the city of legendary charm and reverence for the arts, the city of the music of Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart and Franz Schubert, the art of Gustav Klimt and the insights of Sigmund Freud; there is also its darker character, hedonistic and intolerant.

Weinberger family history, historical anecdote, and personal observation are woven into a segmented structure that allows the reader to discover Vienna much as Weinberger did, in a juxtaposition of "voices" heard in the city's poetry, everyday language, history books, period documents, and as recalled by the city's citizens, past and present.

Weinberger calls the book "kaleidoscopic, in that it brings together fragments of Vienna, bits and pieces that add up to a kind of portrait of a place, one that suggests not a single, unified image, but rather one that is richly complex, layered, ambiguous."

Aside from the "Vienna of popular imagination, the elegant city of waltzes and choirboys and dancing white horses" Weinberger delves into a "far more interesting Vienna, darker and less nostalgic . . . It is a place of which I have grown fond, in spite of myself, in spite of what I think I know about its character."

Jill Knight Weinberger, who earned her Ph.D. at the University of Connecticut, teaches creative writing and American literature at Central Connecticut State University. Her travel writing has appeared frequently in the New York Times, Boston Sunday Globe, and Los Angeles Times. In 2000, the Society of American Travel Writers Foundation recognized her writing with a Lowell Thomas Award for Travel Journalism.

Her new book is offered by Parlor Press, an independent publisher and distributor of scholarly and trade books in high quality print and digital formats.

Click here to find Vienna Voices at Amazon.


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