Walking Through History: Topography and Identity in the Works of Ingeborg Bachmann and Thomas Bernhard

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The post-war landscape of Europe is unthinkable without the voices of the Austrian writers Ingeborg Bachmann (1926–1973) and Thomas Bernhard (1931–1989). Their work, coming after the devastation wrought by the Second World War and the Holocaust, is rooted in a specifically Austrian context of repression of this traumatic historical legacy. In post-war Austria, discourse on the recent past may have been dominated by silence, but the legacy of this past was all too apparent in the country’s ruined and speedily reconstructed cityscapes.

This book investigates Bachmann’s and Bernhard’s treatment of two fundamental aspects of the Austrian historical legacy: the trauma of the war and the desire to return to an ideal homeland, known as ‘Haus Österreich’. Following a methodology based on Freud and Benjamin, this comparative study demonstrates that the confrontation with Austria’s troubled history occurs through the protagonists’ ambivalent encounter with the landscape or cityscape that they inhabit, travel or return to. The book demonstrates the centrality of topography on both thematic and structural levels in the authors’ prose works, as a mode of confronting the past and making sense of the present.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationOxford, Bern, Berlin, Bruxelles, Frankfurt am Main, New York, Wien
PublisherPeter Lang
Number of pages274
ISBN (Electronic)9783035303926
ISBN (Print)9783034308458
Publication statusPublished - 30 Oct 2012

Bibliographical note

Winner of the 2011 Peter Lang Young Scholars Competition in German Studies.


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