Ingeborg Bachmann

Ingeborg Bachmann

Austrian writer.
Date of Birth: 25.06.1926
Country: Austria

  1. Biography of Ingeborg Bachmann
  2. Early 1950s: Lyricism
  3. 1954-1959: Radio Plays
  4. After 1961: Prose
  5. 1971: "Malina"
  6. 1972: Last Works

Biography of Ingeborg Bachmann

Ingeborg Bachmann was an Austrian writer who depicted the insurmountable loneliness of modern individuals in her poetry, radio dramas, and prose during the post-war period. Her works were permeated with a desire to break free from solitary existence and embrace a full life.

Born in Klagenfurt to a family of teachers, Bachmann was the eldest of three children. From 1945 onwards, she studied philosophy, German language and literature, and psychology in Innsbruck, Graz, and Vienna. In 1950, Ingeborg obtained her doctorate with a thesis titled "Critical Perspectives on the Existential Philosophy of Martin Heidegger." Subsequently, she worked as a secretary in the American occupation administration in Vienna, and in 1951, she became an editor at Radio Rot-Weiss-Rot.

Early 1950s: Lyricism

After her first participation in the readings at the "Group 47" conference in 1953, Bachmann received an award from the Writers' Union. This recognition, along with the success of her first poetry collection "Die gestundete Zeit" (The Deferred Time, 1953), allowed her to quit her job at the radio station and move to Italy. Following her second collection of poetry, "Die Anrufung des Großen Bären" (Invocation of the Great Bear, 1956), only a few individual poems by Bachmann were published. In her carefully encrypted intellectual lyricism, Bachmann eloquently addresses the sense of existential threat. The only salvation for humans lies in the desire to escape the unbearable present and strive for a better future. Bachmann mainly employs free rhythms and strict rhymes, using images and metaphors drawn from nature, myths, and fairy tales.

1954-1959: Radio Plays

In 1954, Bachmann's radio play "Die Zikaden" (The Cicadas) was released. In this work, the author demanded conformity to the existing social order, despite being aware of its flaws. In 1957, Bachmann joined Bavarian Radio in Munich, where a year later, her play "Der gute Gott von Manhattan" (The Good God of Manhattan) premiered. The radio play received the War-Blinded Society's award in 1959. The play's theme revolves around the impossibility of pure love and complete happiness within the existing social structure. The "Good God," a defender of the social order, stands trial for attempting to harm a couple in love whose mutual overwhelming feelings increasingly alienate them from society. The violation of commonly accepted moral norms becomes a threat to society.

After 1961: Prose

In 1961, Bachmann published her first collection of short stories, "Das dreißigste Jahr" (The Thirtieth Year). The seven novellas narrate the struggles of individuals trapped in family relationships and their repeated attempts to rebel against society and start a new life. These stories, though lacking in events, are more lyrical than epic in their content.

The subsequent years were marked by a pause in Bachmann's prose writing. She wrote librettos for composer Hans Werner Henze's operas, such as "Der Prinz von Homburg" (The Prince of Homburg, 1966) and "Der junge Lord" (The Young Lord, 1965). In 1964, she was honored with the Georg Büchner Prize.

1971: "Malina"

Seven years later, Bachmann's novel "Malina" was published. It is the only completed novel from the cycle "Ways of Dying," which Bachmann had conceived in the 1950s (fragments were published after her death in 1978). "Malina" exemplifies ruthless self-analysis in literature. The novel revolves around a love triangle involving the narrator and two men, one of whom, Dr. Malina, personifies the main character's rational side. She struggles to reconcile her rational and passionately loving parts, ultimately failing to do so. The emotional aspect of her personality must be "killed." The novel is a reflection of self-discovery, consisting mainly of monologues, with traditional event descriptions being absent.

1972: Last Works

The collection of stories "Simultan" (Simultaneous, 1972) presents readers with subtly ironic snapshots of the lives of five women who have developed their own life strategies in a male-dominated world. Coldness and detachment are their distinguishing traits, with independence often accompanied by loneliness. Only through independence can they achieve "true" freedom. In 1973, at the age of forty-seven, the writer died in Rome from extensive burns suffered during a fire at her own home. According to one version, Bachmann fell asleep with a lit cigarette in her hand.