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This interview is taken from PN Review 221, Volume 41 Number 3, January - February 2015.

A Conversation with Friederike Mayröcker, translated by Marion Endt-Jones

Translated from the German
Tobias Haberl
‘I didn’t become a true human being until my mid-70s.’ Since the death of her husband Ernst Jandl, the writer Friederike Mayröcker lives almost exclusively in the world of her texts. The following interview is a conversation about carrying on.

Mayröcker counts among the most significant writers of our time. From 1954 to 2000, she lived with the famous writer Ernst Jandl, her ‘companion of hand and heart’. At the time of the interview in 2012, she was 87 years old and had spent her whole life in Vienna. Her two most recent books were Von den Umarmungen [Of the Embraces] and Ich sitze nur GRAUSAM da [I Just Sit There CRUELLY].



Friederike Mayröcker is waiting at the Hotel Imperial in Vienna. It is the end of August, it is hot; still, she is not sitting out on the terrace, like everybody else, but inside the café, quietly huddled in a corner, emanating a certain etherealness. As always, she is dressed entirely in black, except for her white [orthopaedic] Romika shoes; even her eyes are framed by thick, dark eyeliner. ‘Grüß Gott’, she says softly, looking up and smiling. One look into her 87-year-old eyes and one knows: this is not going to be an interview, but – that’s what she will call it herself in the end – an emotive session.

tobias haberl: There is a documentary film about you with the title Das Schreiben und das Schweigen [Writing and Silence]. You don’t like to talk, ...


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