Bachmann, Ingeborg

(1926–1973)
   Arguably the preeminent lyric poet of post–World War II Austria, if not in the German language as a whole, Bachmann was born in Carinthia. An extraordinarily conflicted personality, she early became a committed antiNazi, even though her father was a firm supporter of the movement. Her doctoral thesis, which she completed at the University of Vienna in 1951, was on the philosopher Martin Heidegger, himself sympathetic to some aspects of Nazism. She was also deeply offended by the countercultural student upheavals of the 1960s, antifascist though many demonstrators claimed to be.
   During her student years in Vienna, Bachmann worked briefly as an intern in a local psychiatric asylum. She was also close to several postwar Austrian intellectuals and writers, who met regularly at the Café Raimund in the neighborhood of Vienna’s great museums and the Vienna People’s Theater (Volkstheater). The organizing figure at these gatherings, Hans Weigel, supported her work vigorously. He was also one of several men with whom she became emotionally and often self-destructively involved. Another major author among her lovers was the Swiss novelist Max Frisch.
   Bachmann offended some prominent cultural figures in Austria when she broke her ties to the Raimund group and associated herself with the German literary circle Gruppe 47. Nevertheless, she won major prizes for her writing from both the Second Austrian Republic and the Federal Republic of Germany. She was versatile as well as gifted. Her literary output included novels, criticism, libretti for musical works such as the German composer Hans Werner Henze’s (1926–) The Prince of Homburg (1960) and The Young Lord (1965), and a series of highly imaginative radio plays. But poetry was her major calling. With her crushing depressions often lying just beneath her lines, she exploited her uncanny ability to examine her emotions even as she experienced them, then to translate both thought and feeling directly into words. Bachmann burned to death in a fire in her apartment in Rome.
   See also Literature; Women.

Historical dictionary of Austria. . 2014.

Look at other dictionaries:

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