THE THIRTIETH YEAR by Ingeborg Bachmann


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An established poet, this Austrian author ventures here into the realm of speculative short stories, some of which are more speculation than story. Her topical range is wide, even if her style doesn't always match it in variety. In Everything a father contemplates his almost cynical ambivalence towards his son. A wife's empting initiation into a lesbian friendship constitutes the careful revelation of Step Towards Gomorrah. The title story itself is a thesis in introspection of a man almost dead to life in his thirtieth year. One of the most successful of the seven stories is A Wildermuth, in which a judge faces his futile obsession with ""truth"" in its many shams and guises. The modern fantasy version of Ondine doesn't quite make it either in or out of the nebular realm, and the several tales with a male narrator beray the extent of their extrapolation. They may seem too cerebral because of the change from a powerful modern German into an awkward English. Nevertheless, there is strength in these stories and the special sense of futility so in vogue today receives an uncompromising literary due. A notable collection, somewhat mangled in translation.

Pub Date: April 13th, 1964
Publisher: Knopf