History and nature in motion: Paradigms of transformation in the postwar poems of Ingeborg Bachmann

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At the time of Ingeborg Bachmann's premature death at age forty-seven in a 1973 apartment fire in Rome, she was a leading figure of the postwar Central European literary scene as a poet, essayist, critic, prose writer, and radio playwright. In the voluminous critical discussion of Bachmann, focused largely on the self-reflection of language as a theme in her writing, there has as yet been little attention given to the relationship between language and nature in her work. While aspects of the natural are significantly visible throughout her writing, nature imagery is particularly present as a motif in her lyrical work of the early 1950s, the period in which German-language authors sought to establish new avenues of socially conscious and critical writing in the aftermath of the Second World War. These efforts were most notably represented by the well-known association of progressive postwar German-language authors, Group 47, of which Bachmann became a prominent member. In her use of natural motifs during a period in which the prospect of returning to traditional paths of literature was regarded as particularly problematic, Bachmann's commitment to literary innovation involved a renegotiation of Central European aesthetic traditions. Her engagement with the natural directly confronted the immediate fascist past in Austria and Germany by interrogating authoritarian systems, clearly represented by National Socialism. By presenting traditional tropes of nature that become challenged and transformed, Bachmann set both history and nature in motion to reclaim poetic language as a catalyst for cultural change in the postwar era.

Original languageEnglish
Title of host publicationGerman and European Poetics after the Holocaust
Subtitle of host publicationCrisis and Creativity
PublisherBoydell and Brewer Ltd
Number of pages16
ISBN (Electronic)9781571137661
ISBN (Print)1571132902, 9781571132901
StatePublished - Jan 1 2010


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