Friday, 25 November 2016

On how the poetry of Ingeborg Bachmann (1926-1973) aims for a new language to reflect a new world

Like any other author writing after World War II, Ingeborg Bachmann would have been no doubt confronted with Theodor W. Adorno’s famous dictum: “Nach Auschwitz ein Gedicht zu schreiben, ist barbarisch”[1], that is to say that after Auschwitz no new world - in an intellectual or aesthetic sense - was possible at all, whatever the goals of the poem that tried to create it. As we can see from Bachmann’s pronouncement in Das dreißigste Jahr that there can be “keine neue Welt ohne neue Sprache”, she disagreed with Adorno - proposing instead that a new world was possible, even if only through a shift to a new poetics. Much of Bachmann’s oeuvre can be seen in the light of grappling with this problem, and of seeking its potential solution and expression (“wir brauchen Musik. Das Gespenst ist die lautlose Welt”[2]).