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Walking Through History

Topography and Identity in the Works of Ingeborg Bachmann and Thomas Bernhard

Katya Krylova

This book was the winner of the 2011 Peter Lang Young Scholars Competition in German Studies.
The post-war landscape of Europe is unthinkable without the voices of the Austrian writers Ingeborg Bachmann (1926–1973) and Thomas Bernhard (1931–1989). Their work, coming after the devastation wrought by the Second World War and the Holocaust, is rooted in a specifically Austrian context of repression of this traumatic historical legacy. In post-war Austria, discourse on the recent past may have been dominated by silence, but the legacy of this past was all too apparent in the country’s ruined and speedily reconstructed cityscapes.
This book investigates Bachmann’s and Bernhard’s treatment of two fundamental aspects of the Austrian historical legacy: the trauma of the war and the desire to return to an ideal homeland, known as ‘Haus Österreich’. Following a methodology based on Freud and Benjamin, this comparative study demonstrates that the confrontation with Austria’s troubled history occurs through the protagonists’ ambivalent encounter with the landscape or cityscape that they inhabit, travel or return to. The book demonstrates the centrality of topography on both thematic and structural levels in the authors’ prose works, as a mode of confronting the past and making sense of the present.

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Works by Ingeborg Bachmann BF Das Buch Franza in ‘Todesarten’-Projekt: Kritische Ausgabe, ed. Monika Albrecht and Dirk Göttsche, 4 vols (Munich: Piper, 1995), II: Das Buch Franza DWS Drei Wege zum See in Werke, ed. Christine Koschel, Inge von Weidenbaum and Clemens Münster, 4 vols (Munich: Piper 1978), II: Erzählungen GuI Wir müssen wahre Sätze finden: Gespräche und Interviews, ed. Christine Koschel and Inge von Weidenbaum (Munich: Piper, 1983) IB Werke, ed. Christine Koschel, Inge von Weidenbaum and Clemens Münster, 4 vols (Munich: Piper, 1978) KS Kritische Schriften, ed. Monika Albrecht and Dirk Göttsche (Munich: Piper, 2005) M Malina in Werke, ed. Christine Koschel, Inge von Weidenbaum and Clemens Münster, 4 vols (Munich: Piper 1978), III: Todesarten: Malina und unvoll- endete Romane TP ‘Todesarten’-Projekt: Kritische Ausgabe, ed. Monika Albrecht and Dirk Göttsche, 4 vols (Munich: Piper, 1995) Works by Thomas Bernhard A Auslöschung in Werke, ed. Martin Huber et al., 22 vols (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2003–), IX: Auslöschung, ed. Hans Höller (2009) EB Eine Begegnung: Gespräche mit Krista Fleischmann, pb edn (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2006) xii List of abbreviations F Frost in Werke, ed. Martin Huber et al., 22 vols (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2003–), I: Frost, ed. Martin Huber and Wendelin Schmidt-Dengler (2003) H Heldenplatz, pb edn (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 1995) TB Werke, ed. Martin Huber et al., 22 vols (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp, 2003–) U Ungenach in Werke, ed. Martin Huber...

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