Monday, June 12, 2006


Hugo von Hofmannsthal was—besides poet, playwright, essayist, librettist, and fiction writer—a universally admired sensitive soul, the kind imperial Austria seemed to specialize in. It may be that empires, with their hierarchies, traditions, and social stability, contribute to this Feinfühligkeit (a wonderful German word for delicacy of feeling). Certainly growing up in a great European capital like Vienna encourages urbanity, culture, and cosmopolitanism, which were plentiful in Hofmannsthal (1872–1929).