Walking through History

Walking through History was the winner of the 2011 Peter Lang Young Scholars Competition in German Studies.
The post-war landscape of Europe is unthinkable without the voices of the Austrian writers Ingeborg Bachmann (1926-1973) and Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989). Their work, coming after the devastation wrought by the Second World War and the Holocaust, is rooted in a specifically Austrian context of repression of this traumatic historical legacy. In post-war Austria, discourse on the recent past may have been dominated by silence, but the legacy of this past was all too apparent in the country’s ruined and speedily reconstructed cityscapes.
Krylova investigates Bachmann’s and Bernhard’s treatment of two fundamental aspects of the Austrian historical legacy: the trauma of the war and the desire to return to an ideal homeland, known as ‘Haus Österreich’. Following a methodology based on Freud and Benjamin, this comparative study demonstrates that the confrontation with Austria’s troubled history occurs through the protagonists’ ambivalent encounter with the landscape or cityscape that they inhabit, travel or return to. The book demonstrates the centrality of topography on both thematic and structural levels in the authors’ prose works, as a mode of confronting the past and making sense of the present.

Katya Krylova is a Leverhulme Trust Early Career Fellow in the Department of German Studies, University of Nottingham. She studied German and Italian at Churchill College, University of Cambridge, where she completed her PhD in German Literature in 2011. She was a recipient of the 2010 Sylvia Naish Research Student Lecture prize in a competition held by the Institute of Germanic and Romance Studies (IGRS), University of London. From 2010 to 2012, she worked as a researcher at the Ludwig Boltzmann Institute for the History and Theory of Biography in Vienna. Her research interests include post-war Austrian and German literature, the literature of Austrian modernism, psychoanalytic and critical theory, memory studies, and contemporary Austrian literature and film.

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