Every now and then, a historical figure of the past suddenly becomes the topic of the moment for various reasons. For example, Alexander Hamilton was suddenly all the rage when composer and actor Lin-Manuel Miranda’s hip-hop musical ‘Hamilton’, was the must-see show on Broadway. Empress Elisabeth of Austria is having a bit of a moment right now worldwide as her story is being revisited in a new Netflix series – The Empress – and a new feature film – Corsage.
Indeed, The New York Times featured Elisabeth in an article on October 7 titled ‘An Empress Ahead of Her Time Is Having a Pop Culture Moment’, highlighting how popular a figure she is, especially in Austria, with a great many books written about her and popular films of the past that told her story, but many of the facts about her life still remain a mystery.
Under the Spell of a Myth: Empress Sisi in Greece by Stefan Haderer offers insights into the aging Empress’ special relationship with Greece and its people, a largely unknown chapter in her famous life. The extensive research is clear in this well-written, easy to read, 247-page volume which includes a lengthy bibliography and illustrations to highlight the people and places that were a part of the Empress’ life and times. Her travels in Greece may indeed inspire readers to visit Corfu and see the Achilleion, the palace that was the “asylum of a great wounded soul.”
Haderer, an Austrian journalist and author, spoke with The National Herald about the book which is the author’s first and is now available in English translation.
When asked what inspired him to write it, he told TNH that “I became inspired to research more about Empress Sisi and Corfu/Greece after reading the diaries by [stage director and poet] Konstantinos Christomanos many, many years ago. So I collected a lot of historic articles in my own digital archive, but I also learned Modern Greek after visiting the country and Corfu many times. Eventually, I discovered more and more information that hadn’t been mentioned by the classic Elisabeth biographers.”
Of the book’s timeline from idea to publication, Haderer told TNH that “I wrote my book during the first COVID lockdown and it took me a couple of months to finish it. The German original ‘Im Schatten Homers’ was published almost exactly one year ago. Then I began to translate my book to English and found a competent editor as well.”
When asked what he is working on next, he said: “My next project involves a screenplay adaptation of Christomanos’ The Wax Doll. I am still looking for a producer.”
The Journal of Austrian Studies calls Haderer’s book “engaging and well sourced, painted with the fine brush of an author committed to getting all the details of the composition just right.” Haderer’s research on the lives of the Hapsburgs has been published in renowned journals and periodicals such as European Royal History and Royalty Digest Quarterly.
Under the Spell of a Myth: Empress Sisi in Greece by Stefan Haderer is available online.