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Ingeborg Bachmann: Three Paths to the Lake

It wouldn’t do to return to Paris and tell Philippe he should take his pajamas, his razor and his few books and get out, it wouldn’t be that easy, and there were still things which had to be done for his sake. The phrases–I don’t need you, I don’t need anyone, it doesn’t have anything to do with you, it’s just me, and I don’t feel like explaining it!–were easy to think but not easy to say, just like that, in Paris, just as she couldn’t very well say: My brother has gotten married and it’s over between us, I hope you understand. There was only one hope she didn’t and wouldn’t allow herself to hold on to: that if, in almost thirty years, she hadn’t found a man, not a single one, who was exclusively significant for her, not a single one who was really a man and not an eccentric, a weakling or one of the needy the world was full of–then the man simply didn’t exist, and as long as this New Man did not exist, one could only be friendly and kind to one another, for a while. There was nothing more to make of it, and it would be strong and mysterious and have real greatness, something to which each could once against submit.

1 Comment

  1. This relates only indirectly to your well-chosen quote, but what i like so very much about this story is the reference to Jean Améry (who commited suicide exactly on the very same day of her death, five years later after her death) which I have to quote for it is so beautiful and so apt – apt in the sense that it is a very good & concise characterization of Améry’s work and also clearly shows familiarities to IB’s work as well – and I am sorry this is german, but you can find it some 30 pages from the beginning:
    “Viel später las sie zufällig einen Essay ‘Über die Tortur’, von einem Mann mit einem französischen Namen, der aber ein Österreicher war und in Belgien lebte, und danach verstand sie, was Trotta gemeint hatte, denn darin war ausgedrückt, was sie und alle Journalisten nicht ausdrücken konnten, was auch die überlebenden Opfer, deren Aussagen man in rasch aufgezeichneten Dokumenten publizierte, nicht zu sagen vermochten. Sie wollte diesem Mann schreiben, aber sie wußte nicht, was sie ihm sagen sollte, warum sie ihm etwas sagen wollte, denn er hatte offenbar viele Jahre gebraucht, um durch die Oberfläche entsetzlicher Fakten zu dringen, und um diese Seiten zu verstehen, die wenige lesen würden, bedurfte es einer anderen Kapazität als der eines vorübergehenden Schreckens, weil dieser Mann versuchte, was mit ihm geschehen war, in der Zerstörung des Geistes aufzufinden und auf welche Weise sich wirklich ein Mensch verändert hatte und vernichtet weiterlebte.”

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