Ingeborg Bachmann (1927-73), one of the most acclaimed German-language poets of the post-war period, famously turned away from the lyric during the 1960s. Publicly declaring that she had stopped writing poetry, Bachmann began work on the prose Todesarten cycle that would dominate the last decade of her life. During a period of personal breakdown in the 1960s, however, she privately continued to write in verse, and the publication of selected drafts in 2000 threw new light on her compositional methods in this period. As the most extensive study to date of the poetic drafts, this monograph leads away from the polemic that surrounded their publication to establish the fragmentary texts as an experimental stage of writing that proved formally and thematically significant for later published prose works. Bridging the genre gap of much Bachmann scholarship, McMurtry illuminates the development of a reflexive mode where sophisticated aesthetic strategies enable the oblique expression of cultural critique.
Áine McMurtry is Lecturer in German at Durham University.