Accessible Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter February 20, 2008

Gedächtnis, Schrift, “Musica impura”. Ingeborg Bachmanns Lieder von einer Insel

Camilla Miglio
From the journal


Ingeborg Bachmann's poetic cycle “Lieder von einer Insel” is based on her sentimental encounter with the composer Hans-Werner Henze in Ischia (1953), as well as on experience of a landscape in which wind, sea, and volcano bring together the Ancient Greek and Christian cultural traditions. Using Roland Barthes's “Fragments d'un discours amoureux” about the possibility of speaking of love ex-negativo (from the point of view of a loss), and Bachmann's phrase “Es gibt in der Kunst keinen Fortschritt in der Horizontale, sondern nur das immer neue Aufreissen einer Vertikale”, the “Lieder” can be read as a cultural palimpsest expressed in a polyphony of voices: Bachmann constructed the cycle as a musical score. The cultural, personal, and universal experiences of love; death, loss, aorgic plenitude, and destruction; hope in a radical but impossible rebirth – all these oxymora are represented by an encounter of poetic and musical principles. The synchronicity of memory levels and the renunciation of pure sound turn this poetic composition into a “musica impura”.

Published Online: 2008-02-20
Published in Print: 2007-12-01

© Walter de Gruyter