REVIEW: Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann

Ingeborg Bachmann, indicating considerations that extend beyond merely those of insurability: “No policy in the world can cover me.” Might this suggest grandiosity pleased to diagnose itself singularly defective? The unnamed narrator of the great Austrian master’s majestic MALINA—stone cold classic—is not strictly speaking Bachmann herself, though our narrator’s is incontestably her author’s voice as a process, accretion and spread, stratified between two men, operationally, husband and lover, set in its tormented ecstasy on swallowing and transforming all we might imagine it possible to fathom. The concept of “jouissance,” imported from psychoanalytic theory, generally qualifies an easeful sort of contentment very much opposed to neurosis. MALINA suggests that neurosis itself can be or might be made to become a jouissance. How? Art as an occult power, a chaotic healing within chaos, before pen so much as touches paper…a sagacity of defiance…the magic and disorder, nurtured… JPW