Felix Salten, ca. 1910
6 September 1869
|Died||8 October 1945
|Resting place||Israelitischer Friedhof (Friesenberg), Fluntern, Zurich, Switzerland|
|Notable works||Bambi, a Life in the Woods
Life and death
Salten was born Siegmund Salzmann in Budapest, Hungary, the grandson of an orthodox rabbi. 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 the American 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 Germany's annexation of Austria, Salten moved to Zurich, Switzerland, where he lived until his death. Salten is buried at Israelitischer Friedhof Unterer Friesenberg.
Salten married actress Ottilie Metzl 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 a celebrated erotic novel, Josephine Mutzenbacher: The Life Story of a Viennese Whore, as Told by Herself (1906). He died on 8 October 1945, at the age of 76.
- Der Gemeine (1899)
- Josephine Mutzenbacher (1906), authorship assumed – in German: Josefine Mutzenbacher: Die Lebensgeschichte einer Wienerischen Dirne. Von ihr selbst erzählt (Vienna: Fritz Freund, 1906)
- Herr Wenzel auf Rehberg und sein Knecht Kaspar Dinckel (1907)
- Olga Frohgemuth (1910)
- Der Wurstelprater (1911)
- Das Burgtheater (1922)
- Der Hund von Florenz (1923); English translation by Huntley Paterson, illustrated by Kurt Wiese, The Hound of Florence (Simon & Schuster, 1930), OCLC 1826868
- Bambi: Eine Lebensgeschichte aus dem Walde (1923); transl. Whittaker Chambers, illus. Kurt Wiese, Bambi, a Life in the Woods (Simon & Schuster, 1928), OCLC 69170544; re-illustrated by Barbara Cooney (S&S, 1970), OCLC 824177272
- 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)
- Fünf Minuten Amerika (1931)
- Florian: Das Pferd des Kaisers (1933); transl. Erich Posselt and Michel Kraike, Florian, the Emperor's Stallion (Bobbs-Merrill, 1934), OCLC 8990860
- Perri (1938); German, Die Jugend des Eichhörnchens Perri
- Bambi's Children, English translation (Bobbs-Merrill, 1939); German original, Bambis Kinder: Eine Familie im Walde (1940)
- Renni the Rescuer (1940)
- A Forest World (1942)
- Djibi, the Kitten, illus. Walter Linsenmaier (1945); U.S. transl., Jibby the Cat (Messner, 1948)
- Modern Marriages (1924)
- Comedians (1925)
- Storm in a Water Glass (1931)
- Poor as a Church Mouse (1931)
- Scampolo (1932)
- The Empress and I (1933)
- The Only Girl (1933)
- Florian (1940)
- Bambi (1942)
- Perri (1957)
- The Shaggy Dog (1959)
- Eddy, Beverley Driver: Felix Salten: Man of Many Faces. Riverside (Ca.): Ariadne Press, 2010. ISBN 978-1-57241-169-2.
- Seibert, Ernst & Blumesberger, Susanne (eds.): Felix Salten – der unbekannte Bekannte. Wien 2006. ISBN 3-7069-0368-7.