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Ingeborg Bachmann - book author

“What actually is possible, however, is transformation. And the transformative effect that emanates from new works leads us to new perception, to a new feeling, new consciousness.” This sentence from Ingeborg Bachmann’s Frankfurt Lectures on Poetics (1959-60) can also be applied to her own self-consciousness as an author, and to the history of her reception. Whether in the form of lyric poetry, short prose, radio plays, libretti, lectures and essays or longer fiction, Bachmann’s œuvre had as its goal and effect “to draw people into the experiences of the writers,” into “new experiences of suffering.” (GuI 139-140). But it was especially her penetrating and artistically original representation of female subjectivity within male-dominated society that unleashed a new wave in the reception of her works.

Although Bachmann’s spectacular early fame derived from her lyric poetry (she received the prestigious Prize of the Gruppe 47 in 1954), she turned more and more towards prose during the 1950’s, having experienced severe doubts about the validity of poetic language. The stories in the collection Das dreißigste Jahr (The Thirtieth Year; 1961) typically present a sudden insight into the inadequacy of the world and its “orders” (e.g. of language, law, politics, or gender roles) and reveal a utopian longing for and effort to imagine a new and truer order. The two stories told from an explicitly female perspective, “Ein Schritt nach Gomorrha” (“A Step towards Gomorrah”) and “Undine geht” (“Undine Goes/Leaves”), are among the earliest feminist texts in postwar German-language literature. Undine accuses male humanity of having ruined not only her life as a woman but the world in general: “You monsters named Hans!” In her later prose (Malina 1971; Simultan 1972; and the posthumously published Der Fall Franza und Requiem für Fanny Goldmann) Bachmann was again ahead of her time, often employing experimental forms to portray women as they are damaged or even destroyed by patriarchal society, in this case modern Vienna. Here one sees how intertwined Bachmann’s preoccupation with female identity and patriarchy is with her diagnosis of the sickness of our age: “I’ve reflected about this question already: where does fascism begin? It doesn’t begin with the first bombs that were dropped…. It begins in relationships between people. Fascism lies at the root of the relationship between a man and a woman….”(GuI 144)

As the daughter of a teacher and a mother who hadn’t been allowed to go to university, Bachmann enjoyed the support and encouragement of both parents; after the war she studied philosophy, German literature and psychology in Innsbruck, Graz and Vienna. She wrote her doctoral dissertation (1950) on the critical reception of Heidegger, whose ideas she condemned as “a seduction … to German irrationality of thought” (GuI 137). From 1957 to 1963, the time of her troubled relationship with Swiss author Max Frisch, Bachmann alternated between Zurich and Rome. She rejected marriage as “an impossible institution. Impossible for a woman who works and thinks and wants something herself” (GuI 144).

From the end of 1965 on Bachmann resided in Rome. Despite her precarious health—she was addicted to pills for years following a faulty medical procedure—she traveled to Poland in 1973. She was just planning a move to Vienna when she died of complications following an accidental fire.

Joey Horsley

Ingeborg Bachmann is the author of books: Malina, Darkness Spoken: The Collected Poems of Ingeborg Bachmann, The Thirtieth Year: Stories, Herzzeit: Ingeborg Bachmann - Paul Celan. Der Briefwechsel, Simultan: Erzählungen, The Book of Franza and Requiem for Fanny Goldmann, Sämtliche Erzählungen, In the Storm of Roses: Selected Poems, Die gestundete Zeit, Últimos Poemas

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Bachmann tells the story of lives painfully intertwined: the unnamed narrator, haunted by nightmarish memories of her father, lives with the androgynous Malina, an initially remote and dispassionate man who ultimately becomes an ominous influence. Plunging toward its riveting finale, Malina brutally lays bare the struggle for love and the limits of discourse between women and men.
Darkness Spoken gathers together Ingeborg Bachmann’s two celebrated books of poetry, as well as early and late poems not collected in book form, over 100 of them appearing in English for the first time, as well as 25 poems never before published in German. Bachmann is considered one of the most important poets to emerge in postwar German letters, and this volume represents the largest collection available in English translation. Influencing numerous writers from Thomas Bernhard to Christa Wolf to Elfriede Jelinek (winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Literature), Bachmann’s poetic investigation into the nature and limits of language in the face of historical violence remains unmatched in its ability to combine philosophical insight with haunting lyricism.

Bachmann was born in 1926 in Klagenfurt, Austria. She studied philosophy at the universities of Innsbruck, Graz, and Vienna. In 1953 she received the poetry prize from Gruppe 47 for her first volume, Borrowed Time (Die gestundete Zeit). Her second collection, Invocation of the Great Bear (Anrufung des großen Bären), appeared in 1956. Her various awards include the Georg Büchner Prize, the Berlin Critics Prize, the Bremen Award, and the Austrian State Prize for Literature. Writing and publishing essays, opera libretti, short stories, and novels as well, she divided her time between Munich, Zurich, Berlin, and Rome, where she died from a fire in her apartment in 1973.

Peter Filkins has published two volumes of poetry, What She Knew (1998) and After Homer (2002), and has translated Bachmann’s The Book of Franza and Requiem for Fanny Goldmann. He is the recipient of an Outstanding Translation Award from the American Literary Translators Association and the Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin. He teaches at Simon’s Rock College of Bard in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.
This is collection of the stories written by a distinguished Austrian author who died in 1973. Reading these stories entails abandoning the terms of one's own comfort. The author's relentless vision demands that readers allows themselves to be hypnotised, taken over by her repetitive cadences and burning images of grief and loss. And yet, in the beauty of her images there is a tremendous affirmation of the world.
Die Liebesbeziehung zwischen den beiden bedeutendsten deutschsprachigen Dichtern nach 1945 beginnt im Wien der Nachkriegszeit. Bachmann studiert dort Philosophie, für Paul Celan ist Wien eine Zwischenstation. Im Mai 1948 lernen sie einander kennen, Ende Juni geht er nach Paris. Ihr Briefwechsel nach der Trennung ist zuerst schütter, verläuft zögernd, dann setzt er sich fort in immer neuen dramatischen Phasen. Jede dieser Phasen hat ihr eigenes Gesicht: ihren besonderen Ton, ihre Themen, ihre Hoffnungen, ihre Dynamik, ihre eigene Form des Schweigens. Ende 1961 brechen das briefliche Gespräch und die persönlichen Begegnungen ab, als sich Celans psychische Krise auf dem Höhepunkt der >Goll-Affäre< zuspitzt.

Der Briefwechsel zwischen 1948 und 1961 (ein letzter Brief Celans datiert aus dem Juni 1967) ist ein bewegendes Zeugnis: zunächst als das Gespräch einer Liebe nach Auschwitz mit allen symptomatischen Störungen und Krisen aufgrund der so konträren Herkunft der beiden und ihrer schwer zu vereinbarenden Lebensentwürfe als Frau und als Mann und als Schreibende. Aber es ist auch ein Ringen um Freundschaft oder um wenigstens irgendeine Beziehung. Ergänzend zu den beinahe zweihundert Zeugnissen ihrer Korrespondenz wurden die Briefwechsel zwischen Ingeborg Bachmann und Gisèle Celan-Lestrange sowie zwischen Paul Celan und Max Frisch in den Band aufgenommen.
Ingeborg Bachmann veröffentlichte 1972 mit "Simultan" ihren zweiten Erzählungsband, der ihre letzte Buchveröffentlichung seit dem Ende der sechziger Jahre parallel zu den Arbeiten am "Todesarten" Projekt war. Mit diesem haben sie das Thema der von der Männergesellschaft verletzten, im Leben behinderten Frau gemeinsam. In der umfangreichsten Erzählung des Bandes, "Drei Wege zum See," findet sich denn auch der vorläufig abschliessende Satz sum Patriarchat: "...solange es diesen Neuen Mann nicht gab, konnte man nur freundlich sein und gut zueinander, eine Weile. Mehr war nicht daraus zu machen, und es sollten die Frauen und die Männer am besten Abstand halten..."
These unfinished novels were intended to follow her widely acclaimed Malina in a Proustian cycle to be entitled Todesarten, or Ways of Dying. Through the tales of two women in postwar Austria, Bachmann explores the ways of dying inflicted on women by men, and upon the living by history, politics, religion, family, and the self.
Ingeborg Bachmanns Erzählungen sind unverzichtbarer Bestandteil der Gegenwartsliteratur. Sie zeigen Menschen an den Schnittpunkten ihrer Existenz, vor Entscheidungen, in denen es um das Leben geht, die Wahrheit, um die Liebe und den Tod. Neben den Erzählungen aus »Simultan« enthält der Band die Erzählungen aus »Das dreißigste Jahr« sowie alle kürzeren erzählenden Werke, die in der Gesamtausgabe von 1978 publiziert wurden.
THE PRESENT EDITION of Ingeborg Bachmann's poetry is based on the German edition of her collected works (Werke , Munich , R . Piper & Co. Verlag, 19 78 ) and includes all poems that could be successfully rendered into English . Poems from
Bachmann's youth , as well as i ntricately rhymed poems (such as the ten-part cycle "Von einem Land, einem Fluss und den Seen") had to be omitted . This is unfortunate , for much of Bachmann's strength as a poet derives from her fusion of a contemporary idiom with a rigorously crafted , classical form . But the criterion for any verse translation must be that the poem work in its own language . This principle has guided the selection of the poems presented here . Several short prose works relating to Bachmann's poetry , as well as a biographical note and chronology , have been added as an appendix. They should facilitate access to her verse and may also whet the reader's taste for her prose works, few of which have been translated into English.