Ingeborg Bachmann

»Write down everything that is true« - The Correspondence

Edited by Hubert Lengauer. Collected Works and Letters. Salzburger Bachmann Edition. Volume 13.
(German title: Salzburger Bachmann Edition)
ca. 496 pages
Ingeborg Bachmann
Foto: Ingeborg Bachmann
© von Mangoldt

Ingeborg Bachmann, born on June 25th 1926, died on October 17th, 1973 in Rome.

»... the most intelligent and important woman writer our land has produced this century.«

Thomas Bernhard

»A brillant intellectual.«

Heinrich Böll

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The correspondence between two major intellectuals


The hitherto unpublished and unknown correspondence between Ingeborg Bachmann and Hans Magnus Enzensberger allows one to relive how, after the Second World War, two of the most prominent writers in the German language chose to depict and regard the world, literature and the publishing industry, but also how they wished to present and be regarded themselves.

One was a poet and cover girl of Der Spiegel magazine in 1954. The other was an »angry young man«, a networker who tore strips off the literature industry, and whose career as a poet began in 1957. Ingeborg Bachmann (born in 1926) and Hans Magnus Enzensberger (born in 1929) met in the October of 1955 in Tübingen at the Gruppe 47 conference. After a subsequent meeting, the letter exchange struck up, initiated by Enzensberger in November 1957. A correspondence was established, of which 130 letters have been handed down: 53 from Bachmann, 77 from Enzensberger. The final letters are dated 1972, the year before Ingeborg Bachmann died.

The two emblematic figures, icons of German post-war literature, converse on literature in general and in detail, and on their own intentions; they reflect upon contemporary happenings, polemicize, and are also unreservedly frank in their opinions of dear colleagues. Two different writing-characters bounce off one another: discussions broached by one with pragmatic irony and defended by the other from a position of principle.


»It is exciting to see what one more or less speculatively reads into the empty spaces of this correspondence ... and yet, no other female German-language writer has been so commented upon. And no work on her ever appears that does not attempt to decipher ›the Bachmann mystery‹. All the same, up till today no one has really managed.« Neue Zürcher Zeitung

»Two people who were close to each other decided instead to try things out at a distance. The loss for literature is inestimable. The gain is in this collection.« Andreas Kilb, Frankfurter Allgemeine Sonntagszeitung

»A moving, informative bit of north-south correspondence ... This until recently unknown epistolary exchange leads right into the post-war history of German literature. The postage costs most certainly yielded a return.« Frankfurter Rundschau

»A sensational document of a friendship between two poets that lasted for decades.« Münchner Merkur

»Literature of such a linguistic force that it blows you away – when two exceptional writers ... write each other letters, these ›messages‹ become an incomparable delight.« literaturmarkt.info

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