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Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann review – a singular woman adrift
Viewing of. Cancel Save. Print Twitter Facebook Email. Here, finally, are the gas chambers themselves. The third section, Last Things, returns to the calm of erotic despair. Because in the end, as we have known from the beginning, this is a murder story. But who dies? Malina is there and not there: he lives in her flat but often invisibly. Above all, who is this narrator whose voice so captures us and draws us on? She is bruisingly close yet remains at a distance, a stranger to us and to herself. The narrative that has always flowed towards formlessness, collapses. Other texts break in: interviews, phone calls and bureaucratic instructions; transcriptions of tapes that have been erased, letters, dialogues as if from a play, musical scores.
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Philosophers lurk in the wings. Proust is here, and Kafka of course, whose Josef K stalks the pages.
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There is a home, but its walls are cracking; a damp, black stain is growing like a virus. There are memories, but our unknown woman shatters against every one of them.
And yet for all its terror and dread, its death-haunted self-interrogations, Malina is never a depressing novel. Instead, it is eerie, vulnerable, brave and captivating. Bachmann died in a fire in her bedroom apparently caused by a lit cigarette in