Wednesday, March 25, 2009

The Book of Franza & Requiem for Fanny Goldmann, by Ingeborg Bachmann

introduction: darkness spoken, by Peter Filkins

"no author in the latter half of this century has been more intensely concerned with "the manifestation and expression of destructive effects of war within the individual self" than Bachmann. Deeply devastated by the hysteria and horror manifested by the war, she never felt that violence and atrocities ceased with Germany's surrender. rather, as a member of the postwar generation, she was just as deeply disturbed by the greed and corruption of Germany's "miraculous" recovery in the 1950s, as well as by the lack of recognition and remembrance for the victims who had truly suffered.

"Memory and history, then, were Bachmann's twin muses. What sets her apart from other writers of the ear is how she saw the manifestation of fascism as not being limited to the specific context of the war but also existing within everyday life, particularly in relationships between men and women. As she noted in an interview just a few months before her death in 1973, "Fascism begins in relations between people. Fascism ins the primary element in the relationship between a man and a woman." Nothing that there was no "war and peace" in contemporary society, but rather "only war," Bachmann wished to trace the evolution of fascism within intimate relationships, as well as within single individuals, rather than sweeping historical events.

"Nowhere is this more true than in Bachmannn's "Todesarten" novels. As we learn in Malina, " people don't die here, they are murdered."


"As Hans Holler writes, "Malina, The Book of Franza, and Requiem for Fanny Goldmann illustrate that it is not only through death that the victim confronts ultimate truth, but rather through the experience of the fear and sorrow of our time.: It is a testament to Ingeborg Bachmann's genius that despite what she was as the pervasive menace fo the "unspeakable" in the postwar world, she herself never stopped searching for a way to evoke the ineffable and unspoken qualities of our inner nature in order that such fear and sorrow be given true expression rahter than be converted into oppression and silence."

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