Felix Salten, ca. 1910
6 September 1869
|Died||8 October 1945
|Resting place||Israelitischer Friedhof (Friesenberg), Fluntern, Zurich, Switzerland|
Salten was born Siegmund Salzmann in Pest, Hungary. When he was four weeks old, his family relocated to Vienna, Austria. Many Jews were immigrating into the city during the late 19th century because Vienna had granted full citizenship to Jews in 1867.
When his father became bankrupt, the sixteen-year-old Salten quit school and began working for an insurance agency. He also began submitting poems and book reviews to journals. He became part of the "Young Vienna" movement (Jung Wien) and soon received work as a full-time art and theater critic for Vienna's press (Wiener Allgemeine Zeitung, Zeit). In 1900 he published his first collection of short stories. In 1901 he initiated Vienna's first, short-lived literary cabaret Jung-Wiener Theater Zum lieben Augustin.
He was soon publishing, on an average, one book a year, of plays, short stories, novels, travel books, and essay collections. He also wrote for nearly all the major newspapers of Vienna. In 1906 Salten went to Ullstein as an editor in chief of the B.Z. am Mittag and the Berliner Morgenpost, but relocated to Vienna some months later. He wrote also film scripts and librettos for operettas. In 1927 he became president of the Austrian P.E.N. club as successor of Arthur Schnitzler.
His most famous work is Bambi (1923). It was translated into English in 1928 and became a Book-of-the-Month Club success. In 1933, he sold the film rights to director Sidney Franklin for only $1,000, and Franklin later transferred the rights to the Walt Disney studios, which formed the basis of the 1942 animated classic, "Bambi".
Life in Austria became perilous for a prominent Jew during the 1930s. Adolf Hitler had Salten's books banned in 1936. Two years later, after Austria had become part of Germany, Salten moved to Zurich, Switzerland, where he lived until his death. Salten is buried at Israelitischer Friedhof Unterer Friesenberg.
He was married to the actress Ottilie Metzl (marriage in 1902), and had two children: Paul (b. 1903) and Anna-Katharina (b. 1904). He composed another book based on the character Bambi, titled Bambi's Children: The Story of a Forest Family (1939). His stories Perri and The Hound of Florence inspired the Disney films Perri (1957) and The Shaggy Dog (1959).
Salten is now considered to be the anonymous author of the erotic novel Josephine Mutzenbacher (1906), the fictional autobiography of a Vienna prostitute.
- Der Gemeine (1899)
- Josephine Mutzenbacher (1906) – in German: Josefine Mutzenbacher, die Geschichte einer Wienerischen Dirne von ihr selbst erzählt
- Herr Wenzel auf Rehberg und sein Knecht Kaspar Dinckel (1907)
- Olga Frohgemuth (1910)
- Der Wurstelprater (1911)
- Das Burgtheater (1922)
- Der Hund von Florenz (1923)
- Bambi. Eine Lebensgeschichte aus dem Walde (1923)
- Neue Menschen auf alter Erde. Eine Palästinafahrt (1925)
- Martin Overbeck. Der Roman eines reichen jungen Mannes (1927)
- Fünfzehn Hasen: Schicksale in Wald und Feld (1929)
- The Hound of Florence (1930)
- Fünf Minuten Amerika (1931)
- Florian. Das Pferd des Kaisers (1933)
- Perri (1938)
- Bambi's Children (1939)
- A Forest World (1942)
- Djibi, the Little Cat (1945)
- Ernst Seibert, Susanne Blumesberger (ed): Felix Salten – der unbekannte Bekannte, Wien 2006, ISBN 3-7069-0368-7.
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