Bachmanns Reflexion über Sprache und Gewalt im Erzählungsband <i>Das dreißigste Jahr</i>

  • Barbara Agnese Université de Montréal


The focus of this article is Ingeborg Bachmann’s critical and poetic thinking on the relationship between language and violence. The starting point is a commentary of a central passage from the first Frankfurt lecture Fragen und Scheinfragen (Questions and Pseudo-Questions, 1959), in which Bachmann describes the writer's attitude to language. Dissatisfaction with and suspicion of language are part of a writer's crisis and at the same time his/her greatest motivation. Next, Bachmann's collection of stories Das dreißigste Jahr (The Thirtieth Year, 1961) is presented as a critical analysis of human coexistence and of the social use of language. Bachmann observes and describes the emergence and development of violence from which one cannot escape: language and violence appear to be intertwined. The characters in two of the stories (The Thirtieth Year and Everything), who want to escape this violence and language, are analysed through concepts developed by René Girard. According to Girard, the cause of interpersonal conflicts is the “mimetic desire” of people who live in close proximity with one another. Coexistence fosters rivalry, envy, and jealousy. This behaviour is contagious and shared by all members of the group, who repeat it by imitating each other, which leads to rapid escalations of violence.

Wahrheit: Eine „neue Sprache“ der Dichtung?