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This report is taken from PN Review 35, Volume 10 Number 3, January - February 1984.

Ingeborg Bachman Michael Hulse
October 17 marked the tenth anniversary of Ingeborg Bachmann's tragically early death, in a fire in her Roman flat. To mark the occasion, Piper Verlag have published a volume of conversations and interviews under the title Wir müssen wahre Sätze finden, edited by Christine Koschel and Inge von Weidenbaum, which can be seen as a supplement to their four-volume edition of Bachmann's works. Repeatedly Bachmann is asked to explain her decision to abandon poetry after her successful début with Die gestundete Zeit (1953) and Anrufung des Grossen Bären (1956), and repeatedly she describes this decision in terms of a sensitive linguistic scruple: once she found she could do what she pleased with language, even if the urge to do so was absent, she resolved that it would be irresponsible to continue as long as she lacked the urge. Repeatedly Bachmann speaks of intellectual honesty, of music, of living in Rome, of love, sometimes of women, and always she is illuminating; only her socio-political statements have an embarrassingly blue-eyed naivety. Above all she is an excellent commentator on her native Austria; the Austrian's usual pride in being placed at a tail-end of history, the almost arrogant delight in what appears a tradition of decadence, become in Bachmann a very real vantage point, so that provincial origins are turned to advantage.

Ingeborg Bachmann was born in Klagenfurt in 1926 and studied philosophy in Graz, Innsbruck and Vienna, where she wrote a doctoral thesis on the reception of Heidegger. After a spell ...


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