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Horváth Ödön (Edmund Josef) von

Horváth Ödön (Edmund Josef) von (1901—1938)

Ödön (Edmund Josef) von Horváth, born December 9, 1901 in Susak, a suburb of Fiume, Austria-Hungary (today called Rijeka, Croatia), and killed June 1, 1938 in Paris, was one of the most important German-language playwrights and authors of the twentieth century.

Horváth was born as an illicit child of the Hungarian diplomat Dr. Edmund Horváth and Maria Hermine Prehnal. He was named after his father, but only ever called Ödön.

From 1908 on he attended elementary school in Budapest and later the Rákóczianum, where he was educated in Hungarian. In 1909 his father was ennobled (indicated by the "h" on the end of his last name) and sent to work in Munich, but Ödön did not accompany him. Later Ödön went to school in Vienna and Munich, where he also studied germanistics. After that, he lived in Berlin, Salzburg and Murnau am Staffelsee in Oberbayern. In 1931 he was awarded, along with Erik Reger, the Kleist Prize. In 1933, with the beginning of the Nazi regime in Germany, he relocated to Vienna. 1938, when Austria was annexed to Germany, he emigrated to Paris. There, Horváth, who lived in fear of being struck by lightning all his life, was hit by a falling branch and killed during a thunderstorm on the Champs Élysées, opposite the Théâtre Marigny. Ödön von Horváth was buried in Saint-Ouen cemetery in northern Paris but his remains were transferred to Heiligenstädter Friedhof in Vienna in 1988 on the 50th anniversary of his death.

Important topics in Horváth's works were popular culture, politics and history. He especially tried to warn of the dawn of fascism and its dangers. Christopher Hampton's play Tales from Hollywood (adapted into a 1992 teleplay of the same title with Jeremy Irons) portrays a fictional Horvath, who survives the falling branch and moves to America, where expatriate Germans like Bertolt Brecht and Thomas Mann ply their craft for the motion picture industry.

Austria, 1988, Ödön von Horváth

Austria, 1988.06.01, Vienna. Sodon von Horvath


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