Rereading. Not Telling

It is rare I will reread favourite sections of a novel just after finishing it. Malina, Ingeborg Bachmann’s only finished novel is a disquieting and strange and engrossing exception. It repeats and evolves throughout in words, phrases, unattributed and unfinished telephone sentences, recurring dreams of the cemetery of murdered daughters, anonymous letters the protagonist writes… As I read, Ingeborg became a more and more obsessing figure. I found myself staring at the sky on Sunday while a friend went to charge his phone, just thinking thinking about Ingeborg and Malina. When I was tired of the novel (it is not light), I reached for the book of her poems I have. The picture of her on that book could be another woman. There is a photo of her on the cover of most of her books. Each could be another woman (here on the Piper Verlag website). She seems protean and chimeric. There is a book of her correspondence, Herzzeit: “For a long time their love was a great secret, now it is documented” according to the Suhrkamp Verlag. There is a biography of her relationship with Max Frisch. There are no photos of them together.

She seems protean and chimeric. I have no idea what she really looks like.

I do not tell stories, I will not tell stories, I cannot tell stories, it is more than an interference in my memory.

— Ingeborg Bachmann, Malina


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