Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Monday, November 24, 2014

"The Secrets of the Princess of Kagran" by Ingeborg Bachmann (1971)

 "The stranger smiled:  my people are older than all the peoples in the world and are scattered by the winds of time".  

There are still several days left in German Literature Month IV.  Lots of time left to participate. There are already over a hundred posts, reading through them is much like a fine class in German literature at a top academy.

Works I have so far read for German Literature Month 2014

1.   Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

2.   Gertrude by Hermann Hesse 

3.  "Diary of a School Boy" by Robert Walser (no post)

4.  Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

5.  Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig 1925

6.  Life Goes On by Hans Keilson

7.  Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson

8.  "The Wall" by Jurek Becker

9.  "Romeo" by Jurek Becker

10.   "The Invisible City" by Jurek Becker.

11.  Wittgenstein's Nephew by Thomas Bernhard

12. "Dostoevsky's Idiot" by Robert Walser

13.  "French Newspapers" by Robert Wasler 

14.  Jakob the Lier by Jurek Becker

15.  The Trial by Franz Kafka 1915,

16.  "The Seamstress" by Rainer Maria Rilke  1894

17.  "The Experiement or the Victory of Children" by Unica Zürn 1950

18.  "The Star Above the Forest" by Stefan Zweig. 1924

19.  "Saint Cecilia or the Power of Music" by Heinrich von Kleist 1810

20.  Amok by Stefan Zweig 1923

21.  Concrete 1982

22.  "Kleist in Thun" by Robert Walser 1913

23.  "Incident at Lake Geneva" by Stefan Zweig (1924)

24.  "The Governess" by Stefan Zweig 1927

25.  "The Sandman" by E. T. A. Hoffmann 1817

26.  "The Secrets of the Princess of Kagran" by Ingeborg Bachmann 1971

Ingeborg Bachmann (1923 to 1976, Austria) worked as a drama writer for Austrian radio stations for a long time but is best known for her poetry.  I read "The Secrets of the Princess of Kagran" in an anthology I really like, Tales of the German Imagination From Grimm to Bachmann, edited, introduced and beautifully translated by Peter Wortsman.  She is one of two women writers featured in the collection.  

Wortsman tells us that Bachmann was drawn to write this fairy tale like story upon the death of the poet Paul Celan, with whom she had a long on and off tumultuous relationship.  As the story opens the realm of Kagran, a mythical principality, has been overrun by barbarous invaders.  The only way the princess can save her position is to marry the leader of the invaders, an idea that repels her.  One of the most charming things about this story are is the historical place names created by Bachmann, it feels like a proto-history of the Austro-Hungarian region from five thousand years ago.  A mysterious man enters the story and the princess at once seems him as her savior and loves him.  He appears seemingly out of nowhere from a shadow world very remote from her current world.

The images are very striking and the story line is intriguing.  We have seen other stories from Germania about immediate fixation,sexual and otherwise, on a just met stranger whom you see as your redemmer, your savior to whom you owe unthinking allegiance. 

Mel von ü


Jonathan said...

Tales of the German Imagination From Grimm to Bachmann certainly looks like a great book. I remember getting tempted when it came out but didn't succumb - maybe I should!

Mel u said...

Jonathan. Tales of the German Imaginstion is a really first rate anthology, excellant introductions and notes.