Ingeborg Bachmann

Ingeborg Bachmann

Graffiti portrait of Bachmann by Jef Aérosol at the Robert Musil Museum in Klagenfurt
Born (1926-06-25)25 June 1926
Klagenfurt, Austria
Died 17 October 1973(1973-10-17) (aged 47)
Rome, Italy
Nationality Austrian
Notable awards

Prize of the Group 47
Georg Büchner Prize

Anton Wildgans Prize


Ingeborg Bachmann (25 June 1926 – 17 October 1973) was an Austrian poet and author.


Bachmann was born in Klagenfurt, in the Austrian state of Carinthia, the daughter of a headmaster. She studied philosophy, psychology, German philology, and law at the universities of Innsbruck, Graz, and Vienna. In 1949, she received her Doctor of Philosophy from the University of Vienna with her dissertation titled "The Critical Reception of the Existential Philosophy of Martin Heidegger";[1] her thesis adviser was Victor Kraft.

After graduating, Bachmann worked as a scriptwriter and editor at the Allied radio station Rot-Weiss-Rot, a job that enabled her to obtain an overview of contemporary literature and also supplied her with a decent income, making possible proper literary work. Furthermore, her first radio dramas were published by the station. Her literary career was enhanced by contact with Hans Weigel (littérateur and sponsor of young post-war literature) and the legendary literary circle known as Gruppe 47,[2] whose members also included Ilse Aichinger, Paul Celan, Heinrich Böll, Marcel Reich-Ranicki and Günter Grass.

Ingeborg Bachmann's residence at Palazzo Sacchetti, Via Giulia, Rome

In 1953, she moved to Rome, Italy, where she spent the large part of the following years working on poems, essays and short stories as well as opera libretti in collaboration with Hans Werner Henze, which soon brought with them international fame and numerous awards. Her relationship with the Swiss author Max Frisch (1911–1991) influenced the depiction of the second protagonist in Frisch's 1964 novel Gantenbein upon her. His infidelity, and their separation in 1962, had a deep impact on Bachmann.

On the night of 25/26 September 1973 a fire occurred in her bedroom, and she was taken to the Roman Sant' Eugenio hospital for treatment. (Local police concluded that the blaze was caused by a cigarette.) During her stay, she experienced withdrawal symptoms complicated from barbiturate substance abuse.[3] The doctors treating her were not aware of this habit, and it may have contributed to her subsequent death on 17 October 1973. She is buried at the Annabichl cemetery in Klagenfurt.

Work and reception

During her lifetime, Bachmann was known mostly for her two collections of poetry, Die gestundete Zeit and Anrufung des Grossen Bären. After her death, she became popular among feminist readers. Feminist scholars' engagement with her work after her death led to a wave of scholarship that also drew attention to her prose work.[4]

Bachmann's literary work focuses on themes like personal boundaries, establishment of the truth, and philosophy of language, the latter in the tradition of Austrian philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. Many of her prose works represent the struggles of women to survive and to find a voice in post-war Austrian society. She also addresses the histories of imperialism and fascism, in particular, the persistence of imperialist ideas in the present.[5] Her doctoral dissertation expresses her growing disillusionment with Heideggerian Existentialism, which was in part resolved through her growing interest in Wittgenstein, whose Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus significantly influenced her relationship to language.[6]

The Ingeborg Bachmann Prize

The Ingeborg Bachmann Prize, awarded annually in Klagenfurt since 1977, is named after her.[7]


Poetry collections

Radio plays


Collections of short stories


Unfinished novels

Essays and public speeches


See also


  1. Brinker-Gabler, Gisela; Zisselsberger, Markus (2004). If We Had the Word: Ingeborg Bachmann Views and Reviews. Riverside, CA, USA: Ariadne Press. p. 2. ISBN 978-1-57241-130-2.
  4. Lennox, Sara (2006). Cemetery of the Murdered Daughters. Amherst MA: University of Massachusetts Press. pp. 43–50. ISBN 978-1-55849-552-4.
  5. Lennox, Sara (2006). Cemetery of the Murdered Daughters. Amherst MA: University of Massachusetts Press. pp. 294–295. ISBN 978-1-55849-552-4.
  7. Bachmann-Preis - Tage der deutschsprachigen Literatur, retrieved on 2013-11-25.
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