Front cover image for Waking the dead : correspondences between Walter Benjamin's Concept of remembrance and Ingeborg Bachmann's Ways of dying

Waking the dead : correspondences between Walter Benjamin's Concept of remembrance and Ingeborg Bachmann's Ways of dying

In this study Karen Remmler explores the relationship between public and private forms of memory in the late prose of Ingeborg Bachmann by reading her Todesarten as exemplary attempts to critically question the remembering of the Shoah in postwar Austrian society. Walter Benjamin's notion of historical memory as "insightful remembering" (Eingedenken) provides a method by which to examine the interrelationship between the formation of public memory and subjective memories of the past. Bachmann's prose depicts the consequences of individual memory wrought by a public memory that is based on monumentalized views of the past. Such views represent historical experience as static and separate from the present rather than as part of an historical process that continues into the present. The author argues that the actual process of remembering depicted in the Todesarten articulates the dilemma of remembering and "misremembering" the Shoah evident in the social and psychological structures of postwar Austrian society via the struggle of female protagonists to incorporate their own renderings of painful experience into a public memory that does not acknowledge the historical context of this experience. Although Todesarten as text represents an attempt at creating a forum in which to speak of the silenced memories of the Nazi past, the protagonists represent the inability to form a collective act of remembering. Instead the female protagonists project their empathy towards victims of historical atrocity onto their personal experiences, thus preventing a productive interchange between individual and public memory
Print Book, English, ©1996
Ariadne Press, Riverside, Calif., ©1996