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Darkness Spoken: The Collected Poems of Ingeborg Bachmann (German Edition) (German) Paperback – October 1, 2005
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The hauntingly beautiful poems in this volume give expression to a deep and often brooding poetic consciousness which is one and the same as language. Set free--the word is not casually chosen--language reconfigures itself in an act of renewal, achieving a new vitality. Thus, ultimately, no matter how somber they may be, in their very existence, the poems strike a note of historic victory over all of those forces of darkenss that surround the poet.
"Libraries," a poem from 1945 - 1956, is revealing of the quality and historic importance of the poems:
"The shelves sag./The volumes are weighted down with the past./ Their sweat is dust./ The impulse is rigidity./ They no longer sturggle./ They have saved themselves/upon the island of knowledge./Soometimes they've lost their conscience./Here and there, protruding/from them, human fingers/point directly towards life/or twards heaven.
Clearly, language is mired in the past, is petrified, no longer engaged in any vitality-giving struggle, and no longer engaged in acts of conscience. The final four lines are mysterious; but one possibility is that even within this stagnant heap of language, encouraging human signs are to be found. These, surely, are the inspiration for Ingeborg Bachmann's poetry, here collected.
This reviewer is in no position to comapare Filkins' translations with the original German texts that accompany them. In their own right, at the very least, they are pleasant enough. However, they should really serve as a crutch for the naive German reader to enter the original texts.Read more ›
Bachmann is a versatile writer, very much in command of style and diction. Her business is not only personal; her writing has a strong political and social perspective as well, and is therefore not locked in time.
I recommend to stay away from reading Bachmann right before going to sleep at night.