Heiligenanstalt contains four fictions "around" the composers Chopin, Bruckner, Schubert, and the trio of Brahms, Clara and Robert Schumann. All presided over by Beethoven whose "Heiligenstadt Testament" is evoked by the title (literally: "Saints' Asylum": a reference to Robert Schumann's years of insanity). Mayrocker has worked from biographical material, but has above all, "looked into the eye of the hurricane."
Friederike Mayrocker is one of the most original (and prominent) Austrian writers today, famous for the baroque, "hallucinatory" quality of her poetry and prose. She was born in 1924 in Vienna, where she continues to live. In the 1960s she was associated with the experimental "Vienna Group." She has received many prestigious literary prizes in both Austria and Germany, and, in 1997, the International Prize of The America Awards.
"The prose dances like fingerwork on keys.... Each of the four writings sprung from composers' lives finds its own form of telling yet all share an elegiac tone concerned with 'the last time' and the time before that."
– Dennis Barone, Review of Contemporary Fiction
"It is a joy to have this important avant-garde work available in translation. Mayrocker was associated with the experimental 'Vienna Group' where she first became known for the 'hallucinatory' nature of her poetry and prose.... Of special note is a series of letters whose function is to mediate the place between the mind's imaginings and the exterior world. The works also emphasize the performative quality of all writing, whether it be in a public or private sphere."
– Susan Smith Nash, Tap Root Reviews
"HEILIGENANSTALT is a testament to the imagination's ability to resuscitate those who have preserved their spirit through art."
– W.B.Keckler, Logodaedalus
"An ambitions project, often lyrical and intense, and altogether a tour de force."
– Jeremy Adler, The Times Literary Supplement