Sunday, September 14, 2008

Cafes Sperl and Zartl


I took these pictures of the entrance and billiard tables at Cafe Sperl, an old cafe that's still open. It was once a favourite gathering spot for musicians such as Mahler and Lehar, as well as authors such as Franz Werfel. Here's more about its history (in German).

Another interesting cafe outside the central part of the city (like the Sperl) is Cafe Zartl. It was a favourite spot for Robert Musil (who lived nearby -- as did Wittgenstein) and Heimito von Doderer. More recently, the author Robert Schindel has said that he does much of his writing there.

I'll note here this nice guide to Austria for historically inclined literature buffs.

7 comments:

Tom C said...

I am envious - what a good way to spend some holiday time

praymont said...

Indeed, it was a great vacation. I like to structure a vacation around some project, one of my own design without any externally imposed deadlines, pressure, etc.

Roland Elliott Brown said...

According to Lonely Planet, Cafe Sperl was also frequented by a certain Adolf Hitler.

praymont said...

I came across some tidbits about Hitler's haunts (e.g., that he tried to sell his art at Cafe Central), but didn't include them since I wasn't so much interested in him, and because the tidbits didn't seem reliable. One author (can't remember who) speculated that Hitler and Stalin probably crossed each other's paths in some park near the Schonbrunn which they both liked to frequent, but who knows. Vienna in the early 1900's had the best (e.g., in its arts and philosophy) and the worst (Hitler & Stalin) of Europe.

Roland Elliott Brown said...

Hm. I'd love to know the source of that specualtion. It would make a great premise for a play (not that I'd need a credible source to write one).

praymont said...

Roland -- I found the source. See pp. 274-5 of Simon Montefiore's book Young Stalin.

Montefiore says, "The cast of twentieth-century titans in Vienna that January 1913 belongs in a Tom Stoppard play." (p. 274)

He doesn't quite say what I seemed to remember. Further on, Montefiore says of Hitler and Stalin, "The two nascent dictators shared a Viennese pastime: both liked to walk in the park around Franz-Josef's Schonbrunn Palace, close to where Stalin stayed. Even when they became allies in the 1939 Molotov-Ribbentrop pact, they never met. Those walks were probably the closest they ever came." (p. 275)

Roland Elliott Brown said...

Thanks. Conveniently, I have that book on my shelf.