Hermann Broch

Hermann Broch (bʁɔx; 1 November 1886 – 30 May 1951) was an Austrian writer, best known for two major works of modernist fiction: The Sleepwalkers (Die Schlafwandler, 1930–32) and The Death of Virgil (Der Tod des Vergil, 1945). Broch was born in Vienna, Austria-Hungary, to a prosperous Jewish family and worked for some time in his family's factory, though he maintained his literary interests privately. As the oldest son, he was expected to take over his father’s textile factory in Teesdorf; therefore, he attended a technical college for textile manufacture and a spinning and weaving college. In 1909 he converted to Roman Catholicism and married Franziska von Rothermann, the daughter of a knighted manufacturer. The following year, their son Hermann Friedrich Maria was born. His marriage ended in divorce in 1923. In 1927 he sold the textile factory and decided to study mathematics, philosophy and psychology at the University of Vienna. He embarked on a full-time literary career around the age of 40. At the age of 45, his first major literary work, the trilogy The Sleepwalkers, was published by Daniel Brody for the Rhein Verlag in Munich in three volumes from 1930 to 1932. He was acquainted with many of the writers, intellectuals, and artists of his time, including Robert Musil, Rainer Maria Rilke, Elias Canetti, Leo Perutz, Franz Blei and writer and former nude model Ea von Allesch. After the annexation of Austria by the Nazis on 12 March 1938, Broch was arrested in the small Alpine town of Bad Aussee for possession of a socialist magazine and detained in the district jail from the 13th to the 31st of March. Shortly thereafter, a movement organized by friends – including James Joyce, Thornton Wilder, and his translators Edwin and Willa Muir – managed to help him emigrate; first to Britain and then to the United States, where he published his novel The Death of Virgil and his collection of short stories The Guiltless. While in exile, he also continued to write on politics and work on mass psychology, similar to Elias Canetti and Hannah Arendt.
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