Broch, Hermann, 1886-1951

Alternative names
Birth 1886-11-01
Death 1951-05-30
German, English

Biographical notes:

Austrian writer Hermann Broch was born in Vienna on November 1, 1886. His major works include Die Schlafwandler (1930-32), Bergroman (1935-1951), and Der Tod des Vergil (1945). Broch died in New Haven, Connecticut, on May 30, 1951.

From the description of Hermann Broch archive, 1872-1990 (inclusive) 1930-1951 (bulk). (Unknown). WorldCat record id: 702131709

Epithet: writer

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000758.0x000213

Hermann Broch, an essayist, novelist, philosopher, and sociologist, was born in Vienna, Austria, in 1886. Considered to be one of the leading European novelists of the first part of the 20th century, he lived in the United States after 1938. His two major novels are THE SLEEPWALKERS (1931) and THE DEATH OF VIRGIL (1945).

From the description of Hermann Broch collection, 1938-1972. (Princeton University Library). WorldCat record id: 177675071

Hermann Broch, author of Die Schlafwandler and Der Tod des Vergil, was born into a middle-class Jewish family in Vienna on November 1, 1886. The son of a textile industrialist, Broch studied textile engineering as a young man and gradually assumed management of the family business. Although he performed successfully in this capacity and became a respected member of the industrial community, his real interests lay in the intellectual-cultural sphere. From 1925 to 1930 he was enrolled at the University of Vienna, taking courses in mathematics and philosophy. With the sale of the factory in 1927, Broch relinquished his business obligations and dedicated himself to a life of writing.

During the 1930s Broch produced a considerable number of writings, including the novel trilogy Die Schlafwandler (1930-32), Die unbekannte Grösse (1933), the first version of the incomplete novel Bergroman (1935-36), numerous articles, essays, and poems, as well as a play, Die Entsühnung (1934). After a brief incarceration by the Nazis in 1938, he left Austria, traveling first to Scotland and then to the United States.

In America, Broch became friends with other academic and literary exiles, including Hannah Arendt, Albert Einstein, and Erich Kahler. These years brought financial hardship. Broch's publications, although well received in American literary circles, could not be marketed in Europe during the war. Without a remunerative academic position, he lived primarily from occasional fellowships from the Guggenheim, Rockefeller, and Bollingen foundations. Between 1942 and 1948, Broch rented quarters in the home of Erich and Alice Loewy Kahler in Princeton. While there, he completed his novel, Der Tod des Vergil (1945). During his years in exile, theory of knowledge and mass physchology were dominant themes in much of Broch's expository writing. He also continued to produce political essays, taking a strong stand against Fascism and war and for the preservation of human rights and democracy.

In December 1909, Broch married Franziska von Rothermann. From this marriage, which lasted a little over thirteen years, Hermann Friedrich Broch de Rothermann was born. In December 1949, Broch married Annemarie Meier-Graefe. The last two years of Broch's life were spent in New Haven, where he died on May 30, 1951.

For further biographical information, see Hermann Broch in Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten (1966) by Manfred Durzak and Hermann Broch: Eine Biographie (1985) by Paul Michael Lützeler.

From the guide to the Hermann Broch archive, 1872-1990s, 1930-1951, (Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library)


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  • Jews--History--20th century--Fiction
  • Authors and publishing
  • Psychology in literature
  • Jews--Austria--Vienna--History--20th century--Fiction
  • Democracy--History--20th century
  • Mathematics
  • Austrian literature
  • Values
  • Authors, Austrian--20th century--Translations into English
  • Exiles' writings, Austrian
  • Politics and culture
  • Politics and literature
  • Social psychology
  • Ethics
  • Authors, Austrian--20th century--Correspondence
  • Philosophy in literature
  • Knowledge, Theory of--History--20th century
  • Authors, Austrian
  • Human rights
  • Authors and publishing--Austria


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  • Austria (as recorded)
  • Austria (as recorded)
  • Austria--Vienna (as recorded)