Saturday, April 07, 2007

Essays on Ingeborg Bachmann

I have copied a few long essays about Ingeborg Bachmann on the blog.

First published in The New Republic is a review of The Book of Franza and Requiem for Fanny Goldmann and the other published in the Harper's Magazine is a review of Malina among other things. Both of these are not really reviews, rather they discuss her work in general terms. The second one also has lots of interesting things to say about Bachmann's feminism.

Also two essays from New York Review of Books here and here.

The American edition of Malina also has an excellent afterword by Mark Anderson which I suggest should be read before starting the novel, even though the novel itself has some "thriller" elements and the essay reveals the thriller-esque ending.

I have been reading The Book of Franza and Requiem for Fanny Goldmann and though it is of course fantastic, I get this feeling that one needs a very wide set of literary and cultural references to really make sense of the her work in any meaningful way or even to understand what really is going on in the books. These essays may serve as good introductions to her work in that sense.

Note: All the copyrights belong to the original publications of course and no permission was taken to reproduce it here. Not entirely legal I know, but I hope the honest intentions should take care of it.


antonia said...

I have read this Harper essay and it is good, yet tehre is one thing, this what he writes here comes form an interview with Bachmann and it is very often quoted about how sick all the men are and there is always left something out.

"When you get right down to it, she reflects, "every man really is sick," and if things are worse in Vienna than elsewhere, that is because it "is made for universal prostitution" and "all the ramifications of the male disease" are readily played out there."

yet in the interview the interviewer asks her: do you believe that really? and she replies something like sure, they are sick, didn't you know that? so she also says that with irony, that makes it a lot more a less simply view on this whole issue. But the Harperguy is alo pointing that out, that it all isn't simplicistic.
I agree, one might need to know something of the culture, but furthermore know the complete Bachmsann works in order to understand Franza etc better, because some of the characters also appear in other stories.

Alok said...

yes that is important to keep in mind. Also the way she uses fascism and the holocaust as metaphors seemed incongruous and strange, even hysterical, to me in the beginning but that is again a shallow reading. one has to remind oneself that it is a work of fiction and about the use of irony and also the larger role and complicity of Austria and its society during the world war, which is not acknowledged, at least not enough in the contemporary Austria (at least that's what the Austrian writers think).

nico said...

Remember Franza's handwriting in the letters? Martin finds them childish, "as if the end of the war had also sealed the handwriting in its final form", that made me think of Anotnia's thesis handwriting post! But I really like the part were she experiences her first male-love impression with the British soldier. Thaks for the detailed post, Alok!

Antonia said...

in some sense I find Franza even more harrowing than Malina, because Malina is richer, in some sense more intellectual, so many different styles, etc. while in Franza it is plain harrowing sorrow and hopelessnes.

Alok said...

yes i just finished reading it today evening. it is really very bleak and harrowing, specially the second chapter. so sad she died before she could finish writing them all.