Vienna’s Feuilletons from 42nd Street: Culture and Civilization in Ann Tizia Leitich’s Amerika, du hast es besser (1926)
While so many of her fellow European writers, like Zweig, either naïvely celebrated the mechanical wonders of Henry Ford’s factories or made paranoid forecasts of American jazz music squelching out Europe’s symphonies and concertos, the author of those lines, Ann Tizia Leitich (1891-1976), contended that America is much more than an ideological projection space for Europe’s hopes and fears. As the American correspondent for Vienna’s influential Neue Freie Presse newspaper, Leitich chronicles the complexity and power of the United States from a specific, personal and intimate perspective. In this article, I will argue that Leitich counters the popular interwar perception of Europe as a beautiful, doomed culture that is under attack by a soulless but powerful American civilization. Focusing on her appropriation of Oswald Spengler’s dichotomy between civilization and culture, I will explore Leitich’s concept of a cultural syncretism that combines artistic beauty and economic power in a mutually beneficial relationship.
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