Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (née Marie Dubský von Třebomyslice. September 13, 1830 – March 12, 1916) was an Austrian writer.

She was born to an aristocratic family in Moravia (now in the Czech Republic) and her mother died shortly after the birth. Marie was very close to her first stepmother, Eugénie von Bartenstein, who died when the girl was seven years old. Three years later, Marie’s father married to Countess Xaverine Kolowrat-Krakowsky, an intellectual woman who supported her stepdaughter’s fondness for literature. Marie and Xaverine were very close and went often together to the Burgtheater in Vienna.

Marie was educated at home by governesses and private tutors. She spoke French, German, and Czech fluently. From an early age, she took to learning poetry by heart, writing poems, and reading them to her maternal grandmother. At eleven, Marie was given the task of classifying the books in her grandmother’s library in the castle of Zdislawitz. With free access to a large library, Marie read according to her choice, without guidance or interference.

In 1848, at 18, Marie married her cousin, Moritz von Ebner-Eschenbach, who was then a physics and chemistry professor in Vienna. He was 15 years her senior, and later became a field marshal lieutenant. The marriage remained childless and was not a particularly happy one. Throughout her life, Marie suffered from debilitating headaches and excessive nervousness. In 1881, she was diagnosed as having Graves disease.

In 1879, Marie completed an apprenticeship as a watchmaker, which was considered unusual and rare at the time (especially among aristocratic women). Marie, however, enjoyed collecting form clocks, and became an honorary member of the Viennese watchmakers’ guild. Her collection can be found now in the Uhrenmuseum (‘Clock Museum’) in Vienna.

With the support of her husband and her literary friends, Marie also started to devote herself to writing. In 1958, she published the epistolary piece Aus Franzensbad, anonymously. Under the pseudonym M.v. Eschenbach, she published the play Maria Stuart in Schottland, which was produced at the Karlsruhe theatre in 1860. However, she found little success with her plays, and decided to turn to prose: Die Prinzessin von Banalien (1872), Božena (1876), and Das Gemeindekind (1887), which is considered her masterpiece. Marie contributed to the periodical Die Deutsche Rundschau, and wrote several short-stories, novellas, poems, novels, letters, aphorisms, and a memoir. She is considered one of the most important German-language 19th century authors.

Marie was friends with Ida von Fleischl-Marxow, Betty Paoli, Theodor Fontane, Louise von Francois, Enrica von Handel-Mazetti, Isolde Kurz, Theophanie (‘Theo’) Schücking, Malvida von Meysenbug, Josephine von Knorr, Ricarda Huch, Lou Andreas-Salomé, Hermine Villinger, Flora Galliny (who wrote under the pen name Bruno Walden), among others. She also belonged to the Austrian “Association for the Defense against Anti-Semitism”, founded in 1891 by Arthur Gundaccar von Suttner.

After her husband’s death in 1898, Marie made extensive trips to Italy. That same year, she was awarded the Medal of Honor for Art and Science, the highest civil order in Austria. In 1900, on the occasion of Marie’s 70th birthday, the University of Vienna conferred upon her the degree of doctor of philosophy honoris causa. She was the first woman in Austria to receive an honorary doctorate from that University.

Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach died on March 12, 1916, at 85 years old.

Books

  • Ein Märchen.
  • Aus Franzensbad. 6 Episteln von keinem Propheten. 1858
  • Maria Stuart in Schottland. Schauspiel in fünf Aufzügen. 1860
  • Das Veilchen. Lustspiel in einem Aufzug. 1861
  • Marie Roland. Trauerspiel in 5 Aufzügen. 1867
  • Doktor Ritter. Dramatisches Gedicht in einem Aufzug. 1869
  • Die Prinzessin von Banalien. Ein Märchen. 1872
  • Das Waldfräulein.1873
  • Božena. Erzählung. 1876
  • Er lässt die Hand küssen. 1877
  • Die Freiherren von Gemperlein. 1878
  • Lotti, die Uhrmacherin. 1880
  • Aphorismen. 1880
  • Dorf- und Schloßgeschichten (Der Kreisphysikus, Jacob Szela, Krambambuli, Die Resel, Die Poesie des Unbewußten).1883
  • Zwei Comtessen. 1885
  • Neue Dorf- und Schloßgeschichten (Die Unverstandene auf dem Dorfe, Er laßt die Hand küssen, Der gute Mond).1886
  • Das Gemeindekind.1887
  • Unsühnbar. 1890
  • Drei Novellen.1892
  • Glaubenslos? Erzählung.1893
  • Das Schädliche. Die Totenwacht. Zwei Erzählungen. 1894
  • Rittmeister Brand. Bertram Vogelweid. Zwei Erzählungen. 1896
  • Alte Schule (Ein Verbot, Der Fink, Eine Vision, Schattenleben, Verschollen). 1897
  • Am Ende. Szene in 1 Aufzug. 1897
  • Aus Spätherbsttagen. Erzählungen.(Der Vorzugsschüler, Maslans Frau, Fräulein Susannens Weihnachtsabend, Uneröffnet zu verbrennen, Die Reisegefährten, Die Spitzin, In letzter Stunde, Ein Original, Die Visite). 1901
  • Agave. 1903
  • Die unbesiegbare Macht. Zwei Erzählungen. 1905
  • Meine Kinderjahre. Biographische Skizzen.1906
  • Altweibersommer. 1909.
  • Tagebücher 1862–1916, vols. 1–6. 1989–1997
  • Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, Josephine von Knorr: Briefwechsel 1851–1908. 2 vols, ed. Ulrike Tanzer und anderen. 2016

 

About her

  • „Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach in feminist perspective“, by Helga H. Harriman, Modern Austrian Literature, 18 (1), 1985, pp. 27 – 38.
  • Lexikon deutschsprachiger Schriftstellerinnen 1800-1945, ed. Gisela Brinker-Gabler, Karola Ludwig, and Angela Wöffen (1986)
  • Deutsche Dichter. Leben und Werk deutschsprachiger Autoren, vol. 6. Realismus, Naturalismus und Jugendstil, ed. Gunter Grimm and Frank Rainer Max (1989)
  • Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach: the author, her time, and her critics, by Agatha C. Bramkamp (1990)
  • The Guises of Modesty: Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach’s Female Artists, by Ferrel V. Rose (1994)
  • Of reason and love. The life and works of Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach (1830–1916), by Carl Steiner (1994)
  • „Die Beziehung zur Mutter in autobiographischer Erzählprosa von Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, Hedwig Dohm und Adelheid Popp“, by Heidy Margrit Müller, in Mutter und Mütterlichkeit: Wandel und Wirksamkeit einer Phantasie in der deutschen Literatur; Festschrift für Verena Ehrich-Haefeli, ed. Irmgard Roebling and Wolfram Mauser, 1996, pp. 271 – 284.
  • Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach: the victory of a tenacious will, by Doris M. Klostermaier (1997)
  • Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach. Dichterin mit dem Scharfblick des Herzens, by Sybil Gräfin Schönfeldt  (1997)
  • “‘Vergangene Freuden, überstandene Leiden‘: reflections on Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach’s autobiographical writings“, by Edith Toegel, Modern Austrian Literature, 30 (2), 1997, pp. 27 – 38
  • Des Mitleids tiefe Liebesfähigkeit. Zum Werk der Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, ed. Joseph P. Strelka (1997)
  • Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach. Leben und Werk, by Edith Toegel (1997)
  • Frauenbilder im Werk Marie von Ebner-Eschenbachs, by Ulrike Tanzer (1997)
  • Deutschsprachige Schriftstellerinnen des Fin de siècle, ed. Karin Tebben (1999)
  • Geschlehct – Literatur – Geschichte, ed. Gudrun Loster-Schneider (1999)
  • “Towards Emancipation: German Women Writers of the Nineteenth Century”, by Christina Ujma and Carol Diethe, The Modern Language Review, 95 (4), October 2000, p. 1125.
  • „Freiheit und Zwang: berufstätige Frauen in der Prosa der Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, Bertha von Suttner und Marie Eugenie delle Grazie“, by Monika Manczyk-Krygiel, Germanica Wratislaviensia, 118, 2000, pp. 223 – 241.
  • Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach als Sozialreformerin, by Enno Lohnmeyer (2002)
  • “Realism and Sentimentalism in Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach’s Unsühnbar”, by Charlotte Woodford, The Modern Language Review. Modern Humanities Research Association, 101 (1), 2006, pp. 151–166.
  • “The Making (and Unmaking) of an Austrian Icon: The Reception of Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach”, by Linda Worley, Modern Austrian Literature. Modern Australian Literature, 41 (2), 2008, pp.19–39.
  • Zur Interdependenz von Gender- und Nationaldiskurs bei Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, by Claudia Seeling (2008)
  • Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach, by Marianne Henn (2010)
  • Betty, Ida und die Gräfin. Die Geschichte einer Freundschaft, by Claudia Erdheim (2013)
  • Berühmt sein ist nichts. Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach. Eine Biographie, by Daniela Strigl (2016)
  • Marie von Ebner-Eschenbach. Anwältin der Unterdrückten, by Ruth Klüger (2016)

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