The Thirtieth Year and Other Stories
translated from German by Michael Bullock
Ingeborg Bachmann was a winner of the Georg Buchner Prize. I have started a collection of works by recipients of the prize; I highly recommend looking into the collection for those with an interest in German language literature.
series of short stories; here's the table of contents:
Youth in an Austrian Town 7
The Thirtieth Year 18
Among Murderers and Madmen 83
A Step Towards Gomorrah 111
A Wildermuth 139
Undine Goes 177
"[A] complex, finely wrought collection.... Imaginative and evocative.... This powerful book could well become a classic."—Publishers Weekly
"[Bachmann's prose] is acute and moving."—The New Yorker
"Ingeborg Bachmann was a writer of genius."—Mary Gordon, New York Times Book Review
"Bachmann's voice is rare and strong—strong enough to transport us to a new domain of fiction."—Los Angeles Times
From Karen Achberger's Introduction:
"The seven stories of The Thirtieth Year are not narratives in the conventional sense. They are rather moments of reflection, lyrical impressions, monologues, and tightly composed images to suggest a radical rebellion against that ‘worst of all possible worlds' in which the protagonists find themselves. After a prelude ... in which a childhood of fearful obedience is recalled with quiet, dispassionate aversion, the six following stories break open to life’s moments of crisis, of coming-of-age (for which the year thirty is symbolic) in the face of truth or the realization ... that there is no truth. In all the stories there is a yearning for renewal, for another order, for 'salvation,' which at times takes on mythic proportions, and which, though glimpsed for a moment, is clearly unattainable."
ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ingeborg Bachmann (1926-1973), a native of Austria, is acknowledged as one of the most gifted writers of twentieth century German literature. Her eclectic body of work included poetry, opera librettos, the novel Malina, and a second collection of short stories, Three Paths to the Lake. The "first lady" of the renowned Group 47, her influence extended to such major writers as Günter Grass, Uwe Johnson, and Christa Wolf.
I've only read two of the stories. Stylistic prose. Good stuff. Deserving of an award. Here's the first page from "Among Murderers and Madmen":
Men are on the way to themselves when they get together in
the evening, drink and talk and express opinions. When they
talk without purpose they are on their own tracks, when
they express opinions and their opinions rise with the smoke
from pipes, cigarettes and cigars and when the world turns
to smoke and madness in the village inns, in the private
rooms, the back rooms o f the big restaurants and in the
wine cellars o f the big cities.
We are in Vienna, more than ten years after the war.
‘After the war'— this is how we reckon time. We are in
Vienna in the evening and swarming out into the cafes and
restaurants. We come straight from publishing houses and
office blocks, from surgeries and studios, and meet, get on
the trail, hunt the best that we have lost, like a deer, with
embarrassment and to the accompaniment o f laughter.
go down every day, pick out the rotten fruit, cut out the bad bits and eat what is left. Because the day never comes on which all the rotten apples have been eaten, because more apples are always turning rotten and nothing must be thrown away, they hunger after an alien, forbidden fruit. They don’t like the apples, their relations or the Sun days on which they have to go for walks on the Kreuzberg above the house, naming the flowers, naming the birds. In the summer the children blink through the
not go in order to have her back, but in order to keep her in the world and so that she should keep me in the world. Through union, mild and sombre. If there are children after this embrace, good, let them come, be there, grow up, become like all the others. I shall devour them like Chronos, beat them like a big, terrible father, spoil them, these sacred animals, and let myself be deceived like a Lear. I shall bring them up as the times demand, half aiming at the wolfish practice and half at the
me. She has no money or can’t settle down in Vienna, comes from down south, a Slovene, half Slovene, from the border, anyhow from the south, her name sounds like that too, Mara. There must be something, a request, a story, some story with which she wants to cheat me of my sleep. O f course she must be alone too much in Vienna or she has got mixed up in some affair or other. I must ask Franz about this girl tomorrow. Tomorrow! Charlotte started, quickly memorized her duties: meet 11 2 A Step
occasional revolts, in spite o f her desire to undermine the constitution. But when ever she had tried to undermine this she had quickly become aware that she had nothing to put in its place, that she had no idea o f her own and that Franz with his smile, and with the pity he felt for her at such times, was right. She liked living in his indulgence. But she wasn’t sure whether he too would have liked to live in her indulgence or what would have happened if he had ever noticed that she too was
want to do every thing, believe everything, that you want me to. Only love me! Love me! But I shall hate everything out o f jealousy, music, the piano, people, everything. And at the same time I shall be proud of you. But let me stay with you.’ She recol lected herself and let her arms fall. ‘Yes, do as you like. Only don’t send me away. I shall do everything for you, I’ll wake you in the mornings, bring you your tea, the post, answer the telephone, I can cook for you, run all your errands, see