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Bachmann was not Viennese but Carinthian, born in Klagenfurt near the Slovenian border in She did not even reside in Vienna for a notable length of time — she moved there to complete her doctorate in , and by had traveled on to Rome, the city where she would reside, with interruptions, until her death in Yet Vienna remained her subject, the matrix of her artistic concerns, while Rome, if anything, afforded her the necessary distance to contemplate it more lucidly.
I is in love with Ivan, a Hungarian father of two who reciprocates her affections by nit-picking at her clothing, drinking her whiskey, and forcing her into endless games of chess.
Outwardly, I maintains a hectic life of travel and correspondence. Inwardly, she is decaying, suffering a curtailment of whatever psychic resources might furnish her with security. Their discussions are not therapeutic, but rehearse traumatic insights that push the narrator toward her inevitable end. As her demise approaches, I recognizes the feminine nature of her fate. Society is the biggest murder scene of all.
In it, the seeds of the most incredible crimes are sown in the subtlest manner, crimes which remain forever unknown to the courts of this world.
The crime I falls victim to is a death by disappearance into a crack in the wall in her apartment. I absolves Malina, even laments, on the far side of absence, her failure to leave a note behind exonerating him. She would eventually conceive of it as a multi-volume cycle beginning with Malina and incorporating in some form the fragments The Book of Franza and Requiem for Fanny Goldmann. Bachmann had good fortune of a kind: her early poems were praised effusively, she won numerous major prizes, reviewers did not shy away from anointing her a savior of German lyric.
She wrote it in a moment of extreme psychological and physical debility, addicted to drugs and alcohol and struggling to find solace for her breakups with the writers Max Frisch and Paul Celan, the latter of whom drowned himself just as she was finishing the manuscript. Two years after its publication, she would accidentally set fire to her nightgown with a cigarette, and would die three weeks later from her injuries and from convulsions brought on by barbiturate withdrawal.
Such reductionism would be an error, but a parochial avoidance of biography — however often its invocation has cast doubt on the sovereignty of women writers over their creations — is no less ill advised. Bachmann saw fiction as something more than storytelling: it was a mode of thinking particularly suited to universal problems that become palpable through individual experience. Her torments were not only subjective, but the consequence of a history that tended, in her view, toward devastation, and so excessive claims for the objectivity of her writing diminish its special significance.
In her acceptance speech for Radio Play Prize of the War Blind, she advocated for a writing that would put the experience of pain in evidence as a missive from a concrete I to a concrete you.
That is not the same thing as saying it is possible. The truth Bachmann sought to bear in her Ways of Dying seems in the end to have been too much, but Malina is a stark relic of her steadfast attempt to do so. Close this module. Your email johnsmith example.
Ingeborg Bachmann’s “Malina” Is the Truest Portrait of Female Consciousness Since Sappho
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Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann review – a singular woman adrift
It sounded so important and complete: Ma-li-na, stress on the final syllable. Stress on every syllable. So symmetrical and smoothly oblique. He said it in the way his shoes were shined. The way he held his expensive raincoat over one arm. This was an office setting, and he was in a position above me. The way he announced the existence of Ingeborg Bachmann suggested that he believed, consciously or not, that she belonged to the world of men; perhaps she even derived from it.
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Translated from the German by Philip Boehm. With a contribution by Rachel Kushner. In Malina , originally published in German in , Ingeborg Bachmann invites the reader into a world stretched to the very limits of language. An unnamed narrator, a writer in Vienna, is torn between two men: viewed through the tilting prism of obsession, she travels further into her own madness, anxiety, and genius. A psychological thriller of a tormented, existential sort. This revised translation appears at a time when the book feels quite contemporary. Lucid and powerful.
Ingeborg Bachmann: 'Malina'
Translated by Philip Boehm. Afterword by Mark Anderson. It must encompass all things and in it all things must again transpire according to guilt and the degree of guilt. Published in German in , and now available in English in Philip Boehm's capable translation, "Malina" was conceived as the first part of a trilogy that was to be called "Todesarten" "Types of Death" , the opening of Bachmann's investigation into what she saw as the "ways of dying" inflicted upon the living from outside and from within, through history, politics, religion, family, gender relations or the self. Unfortunately, although she left behind substantial fragments of the other two novels, Bachmann never lived to complete her most ambitious undertaking. A fire in her Rome apartment took her life in