Born in Klagenfurt, Austria on June 25, 1926, Ingeborg Bachmann studied law and philosophy at the universities of Innsbruk, Graz, and Vienna. She received her degree from the University of Vienna for a dissertation on Heidegger in 1950.
Bachmann’s first poetry was published in Lynkeus, Dichtung, Kunst, Kritik, edited by Hermann Hakel, while she was attending the university. After her graduation, she went on to become a scriptwriter at Radio Rot-Weiß-Rot in Vienna. During these years she traveled to Munich to read at the influential gathering of post-war German poets known as Gruppe 47, an appearance arranged by the poet Paul Celan, whom she had met in Vienna. The reading was highly lauded, and the next year, 1953, Bachmann received the Gruppe 47 Prize for her first collection, Die gestundete Zeit (Borrowed Time). The wide success of that book led to requests for poems, radio plays, and opera libretti, a great number of which she produced over the next years.
The same year as her award, Bachmann moved to what would be come her “beloved” Italy, first to the island of Ischia, and then to Naples and Rome, where she remained until 1957. In 1955 she also traveled to the United States at the invitation of the Harvard Summer School of Arts and Sciences, led by Henry Kissinger. The following year, her second volume of poetry, Anrufung des Großen Bären (Invocation of the Great Bear) was published. As a result, she was asked to deliver the inaugural lectures for the poetry chair founded at Frankfurt University in 1959, helping to assure her recognition as the most important German poet since Gottfried Benn. The same year she was awarded the prestigious Bremen Literature Prize.
During the late 1950s she continued to work in radio and television, now as dramaturge for Bavarian Television and Radio in Munich and Hamburg. But in 1958, she moved to Zürich, becoming involved with the Swiss author Max Frisch until 1962, when she returned to Rome. Her 1960 libretto for Hans Werner Henze’s opera Der Prinz von Homburg and her 1961 colleciton of short stories, Das dreißigse Jahr brought her further acclaim. She was awarded the Georg Büchner Prize in 1964 and the Austrian State Prize in Literature in 1968.
In 1971 Suhrkamp Verlag published her novel, Malina. Bachmann’s collection of short stories, Simultan (R. Piper Verlag) was published the following year.
On September 26, 1973, Bachmann fell asleep in her Rome apartment while, apparently, smoking a cigarette in bed. The fire department found her unconscious and badly burned. She died three weeks later, on October 17 th, at the age of 47.
BOOKS OF POETRY:
Die gestundete Zeit (Frankfurt: Frankfurter Verlaganstalt, 1953; Munich: Piper, 1957); Anrufung des Großen Bären (Munich: Piper, 1956); uncollected poetry published in Werke [4 volumes] (Munich: Piper, 1978).
ENGLISH LANGUAGE TRANSLATIONS:
Songs in Flight: The Collected Poems , translated and introduced by Peter Filkins (New York: Marsilio Publishers, 1994); Last Living Words: The Ingeborg Bachmann Reader, translated by Lilian M. Friedberg [selected poetry and fiction] (Los Angeles: Green Integer, 2005); Darkness Spoken: Collected Poems, translated by Peter Filkins (Brookline, Massachusetts: Zephyr Press, 2005).
See Green Integer title(s) by this author