Malina invites the reader on a linguistic journey into a world stretched to the very limits of language with Wittgensteinian zeal and Joycean inventiveness, where Ingeborg Bachmann ventriloquizes—and in the process demolishes— Proust, Musil, and Balzac, while filtering everything through her own utterly singular idiom. Since its original publication in 1971, Malina remains, quite simply, unlike anything else; it’s a masterpiece. Malina uses the intertwined lives of three characters to explore the roots of society’s breakdown that led to fascism, and in Bachmann’s own words, “it doesn’t start with the first bombs that are dropped; it doesn’t start with the terror that can be written about in every newspaper. It starts with relationships between people. Fascism is the first thing in the relationship between a man and a woman, and I attempted to say that here in this society there is always war. There isn’t war and peace, there’s only war.”
An existential portrait, a work of desperate obsession, a proto-feminist classic, and one of the most jagged renderings of female consciousness European literature has produced.
Bachmann’s moral seriousness, modernist and primeval, is nowhere in doubt, nor is her terror: it rides her language (burning and cooling, by turns) into strange dialectical valleys, up Alpine peaks, into labyrinthine Viennese apartments and sardonic lakeside villas.
Malina will always be in style.
If I was permitted to keep one book only it would be Malina. Malina has everything.
It seems in Malina there is nothing Bachmann cannot do with words.
—The New York Review of Books
A Viennese woman cooks dinner for her lover, waits by the telephone, delays embarking on a trip or writing the book she’s meant to write. And in that nulltime, the abyss of twentieth-century trauma yawns wide open and engulfs her.
The most intelligent and important woman writer our land has produced this century.
—Naja Marie Aidt, Publishers Weekly
Bachmann’s voice is rare and strong–strong enough to transport us to a new domain of fiction.