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Title: Crisis and form in Ingeborg Bachmann's late verse and prose : an aesthetic examination of the poetic drafts of the 1960s
Author: McMurtry, Aine
ISNI:       0000 0004 0145 7109
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2008
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This thesis demonstrates the aesthetic impact of crisis on Ingeborg Bachmann's late verse and prose. It examines poetic drafts written during a period of personal breakdown in the 1960s, which have largely been received as documents of personal suffering, and identifies these texts as a radical stage of writing that was to prove formally significant for Bachmann's development of the prose "Todesarten"-Projekt. This thesis draws on the new material made available with the publication of these poetic drafts to chart the genesis of Bachmann's acclaimed late oeuvre. By selecting and grouping lyric fragments, the thesis defines recurrent features in this verse and accounts for the texts as a body of writing that forms a radical, yet undocumented, part of this oeuvre. In terms of both their form and of their content, the fragmentary drafts are shown to reflect new engagement with aspects of experience conventionally excluded from High Art. In light of Bachmann's growing preoccupation with the need for aesthetic engagement in the post-war era, close readings reveal how she set about taking her subjective suffering as a basis for a critique of the social order. The thesis outlines how, during the 1960s, Bachmann pioneered a symptomatic expressive mode that - in the disrupted form of the writing - found an indirect means of manifesting the wider origins of subjective disturbance. The ambiguous aesthetic status of these poetic drafts, which were never finished by Bachmann, is related to an inability to establish structural distance from crisis in lyric form. Building on its readings of the poetic drafts, the thesis traces Bachmann's prose experimentation with the same motifs. It identifies how, ultimately, the prose medium enabled the author to resolve problems of aesthetic form raised in the verse. Parallels with the work of other writers and thinkers illuminate the development of a reflexive mode where sophisticated aesthetic strategies enable the oblique expression of cultural critique.
Supervisor: Paul, Georgina ; Louth, Charlie Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: German ; Languages (Medieval and Modern) and non-English literature ; Germanic languages ; Ingeborg Bachmann ; crisis ; poetry ; prose ; experimental writing ; 1960s ; Todesarten ; German literature ; post-1945 literature ; women's writing