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The Xenophobe's Guide to the Austrians

A guide to understanding the Austrians that delves into the cultural curiosities and peculiar characteristics of this land-locked nation "The Austrian needs lots of persuading to have his traditions tampered with in the name of modernization and efficiency. He is attached to his sausage, his insipid beer, and the young white wine that tastes so remarkably like iron filings. He prefers the familiar, tried, and tested to the novelty, the latter almost certainly being an attempt by persons unknown to make money at his expense." "Home life for the Austrians is a never-ending quest for Gemutlichkeit or coziness, which is achieved by accumulating objects that run the gamut from the pleasingly aesthetic to the mind-blowingly kitsch." "In Austria detonating pretension is a national pastime. It has to do with attitudes to power that date back to an absolutist form of government and with the self-irony developed by people who were (or thought they were) more talented than the authority to which they had to defer." "The paradoxical character of the Austrian mingles profoundly conservative attitudes with a flair for innovation and invention. This creative tension usually takes the form of official obstructionism to good ideas, but sometimes the other way round. For example, the population were outraged by Josef II's attempt to make them adopt reusable coffins with flaps on the underside for dropping out the corpses. (The Emperor was forced to retreat, grumbling as he did so about the people's wasteful attitude.)"
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About the Author

Louis James has spent ten more or less fruitful years in contemplation of Homo austriacus. Despite being in daily contact with the species, he suspects that it is easier to describe the yeti (on which there is no verifiable information), than the Austrian (on which there is far too much, all of it contradictory). Notwithstanding this difficulty he has conducted many hours of diligent field work in cafes, wine-cellars, etc., refining his impressions for the present study, and was gratified to discover that many Austrian friends and acquaintances were prepared to assist selflessly with this. Since settling in Vienna he has written regular reports on the Central European enigma, chiefly in the hope that sooner or later he will discover a new key to it (the old one having been thrown into the Danube some time ago). If, as seems likely, his efforts in this regard are crowned with failure, he anticipates that few will notice the fact but he will be considerably more popular with those who do.


'I lived in Austria last year. A good friend of mine used to make fun of some of the ridiculous things the Austrians do, but this book tells you WHY. Reading the book will forewarn some, but I think it's better to have lived there for a while to understand what it's talking about. Then it'll be an even better laugh.' -- Reviewer from Edinburgh 'This book is soooo true!! I am an Austrian myself, at the moment living in the United States, and came across this book via my boss, who is an Austria aficionado. I think I rarely ever enjoyed a book that much. To everyone who ever spent some time in my country and got to love its many peculiarities, this will be a great souvenir / gift!!!' -- Reviewer from Milwaukee, USA 'I am a South African, living in Austria, Having lived here for 4 years, I can relate to the book very well, the author has done a brilliant job of characterising the Austrians and has answered a few questions which have been bothering me.' -- Reviewer 'Gasson'

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