Leopold von Andrian-Werburg



Leopold von Andrian-Werburg was born on May 9, 1875, in Berlin. He was the son of the anthropologist and geologist Ferdinand von Andrian-Werburg and his wife Caecilie – a daughter of the composer Giacomo Meyerbeer. He grew up in Vienna with occasional visits to the family mansions in Altaussee and Nice. Andrian was partly home-schooled by his teacher Oskar Walzel and imbued with Christian values both at the elitist Jesuitenkollegium in Kalksburg and the Schottengymnasium in Vienna. After passing his Matura, he studied law, philosophy and German literature at the University of Vienna.

Already at the age of thirteen, Andrian published his first novel entitled Hannibal. He became acquainted with Stefan George in 1894. It was around that time that he wrote his most acclaimed book Der Garten der Erkenntnis. The young aristocrat Erwin is not able to establish bonds with other people due to his melancholy disposition. Eventually, without having resolved this problem, he dies a lonely death. The symbolism of the fin de siecle Vienna resonated well with a lot of artists – so much that Der Garten der Erkenntnis became a cult book. It was tremendously well received, especially among the people around Stefan George and influenced writers such as Hugo von Hofmannsthal (Andreas fragment) and Robert Musil (Die Verwirrungen des Zöglings Törless). Even in France it caught the attention of Maurice Maeterlinck and André Gide. Unfortunately, this remained Andrian’s first and last literary success. Even though he continued writing throughout his whole life, he never produced anything comparable. He had a lively correspondence with several close friends, among them Hofmannsthal, and published articles in numerous newspapers. But he did not have time to compose another literary work due to his demanding profession as a diplomat.

After the completion of his studies – he received his doctorate in 1899 – he entered the diplomatic service which meant a life of constant travel and mobility. He was sent to Athens, Rio de Janeiro, Buenos Aires, St. Petersburg, and Bucharest until he became head of the consulate in Warsaw from 1911 to 1914. At the outbreak of World War I he was summoned to the Austrian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, became consultant for Polish affairs in 1917, and finally took part in the peace negotiations at Brest-Litowsk. He also briefly held the position of the general manager of the Hoftheater in Vienna in 1918.

After the downfall of the Habsburg Empire which Andrian would bemoan until the end of his life, he withdrew from the public to lead a more secluded life dedicated to writing. He commented on politics and current affairs in numerous newspapers and journals, and positioned himself clearly against the annexation of Austria by Germany in his tractate Österreich im Prisma der Ideen. In 1938, after the annexation had been executed, Andrian first emigrated to Nice but continued, in 1940, via Spain and Portugal to South America where he remained until the end of the war.

Andrian married twice: in 1923 he married the widowed Andrée Bourée and after her death in 1946 he married Margaret Eadi Ramsay.

His last major journey took him to Rhodesia and South Africa before he died in Fribourg, Switzerland, at the age of 76.

-Gabi Eichmanns-