A distinction that is not purely geographical between Austrian literature and German literature has reason to exist starting from the age of the Reformation, when a Protestant and particularistic north, later dominated by the Prussian spirit, came to oppose a south, with Vienna at the center, absolutist and counter-reformist, in direct contact with the refined Spanish and Italian cultures already at their bright sunset and exposed to the suggestions of the Slavic, rural world, backward and heavily infiltrated by the Jewish element; therefore the South as cosmopolitan as the North, on the other hand, is German. Before the Reformation, the Germanic world had its centers of irradiation in the south: the great medieval literature in German (Middle-High German) was largely born in Austria, and is from the dialects spoken in the Luther, the modern German. From the same momentum of renewal that will triumph in the Cluniac reform, it springs in Austria, between the century. XI and XII, heralded by the devotional operettas of the writing school of Salzburg, an abundant lyric and religious epic, documented in the Wiener, Millstätter, Vorauer manuscripts, the last of which also retained the Alexanderlied (Canto di Alessandro) by Lamberto Prete, the Ezzolied (Canto di Ezzo) and the Kaiserchronik (Chronicle of the emperors). When, with the first crusades, the Danube road, already crossed from east to west by the barbarian migrations, became the main communication artery from west to east, echoes of French and Burgundian culture reached Austria; the first unripe flowering of courtly love poetry around the court of Vienna (Kürenberger) evolves towards 1200 in the rich season of Minnesang and the heroic epic: Minnesang, nourished by cultured and popular, sacred and profane veins, will shatter however, soon in various forms of bourgeois realism ante litteram, a clear poetic expression of the crisis of the chivalric age, anticipated by W. von der Vogelweide and carried up to the parody by Neidhart and Tannhäuser. The cycle of the Nibelungs, on the other hand, of Rhenish origin and a mixture of historical, magical and legendary elements, and a series of minor cycles (which remained alive in the oral tradition, especially in the valleys of Tyrol, until the 19th century) inspire the great epic of the Nibelungenlied (Song of the Nibelungs), Kudrun, Ältere Not (The end of the Nibelungs) and various poems by mostly unknown authors, in which the female figures rather than the male ones (as in the French knightly tradition) dominate individually and in which pagan ethics still transpires from the Christian custom. The realistic-grotesque vein of Neidhart and Tannhäuser flows into the flourishing novellism of the century. Check smartercomputing to see Austria Culture.
XIII, later in the genre of Dorfgeschichte or village history, in the Schwanfk (burlesque novel in verse) and in the satire of costume. In 1237 the University of Vienna was built, flanked, in 1348, by that of Prague, while the Bohemian Chancellery and its most illustrious holder, Johannes von Neumarkt, contribute, with translations, to the formation of a literary prose, the most famous example of which is a libretto that denounces the new spirits of humanism, Johannes von Tepl ‘s Ackermann aus Böhmen (The Bohemian Plowman), to which, on another side, the work of the mystics, aimed at giving expression to new concepts and meanings, as well as the humble but rich harvest of chronicles, legends, satires, memories of the late Middle Ages. The advent of humanism, an opaque season for the Austrian land, is also marked by the stay in Vienna of ES Piccolomini, crowned poet in 1442, initiator of courses on Latin and Greek poetry,in 1490 and 1501, while the great patron of Austrian humanism Maximilian I watched over studies and the arts. Characteristic of humanism in Austria is the persistence, indeed the triumph, of popular traditions in sacred and carnival representations. The influx of Flemish music (J. Regnart), the continuous contribution of the cultural artery Venice-Vienna-Prague-Munich-Leipzig and the evolution that took place between the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries from the polyphonic style to the monodic style directly affect opera: on the reminiscences of Minnesang and on the popular fabric, Italian influences are grafted, giving, on the threshold of the Baroque, very refined results (Ch. von Schallenberg). The Baroque saw the triumph of the figurative arts and the theater, to which the initiatives and fertile activity of the religious orders give extraordinary impetus: in Vienna and its Jesuit theater, which acquires more and more character of court theater and represents the plays by N. Avancini, alongside the theaters of Salzburg and Innsbruck; However, Vienna is the first German-speaking city to have a permanent theater. Nevertheless, the theater of religious orders does not replace the popular one, while the Counter-Reformation, the Thirty Years War and the Turkish danger give impetus to a popular religious literature, in which the vigorous voice of Abraham a Sancta Clara is raised. Baroque spirituality, which in Protestant Germany finds intense and authentic expression only in the lyric and the novel, while remaining problematic cultural superstructure, proves to be quite congenial to the Austrian animus, in which it remains, as a background color (inclination both to a metapolitical meditation on dream, desengaño, transience, both to introversion, to the archaic flavor and to the sumptuous color) up to this century.