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Ilse Aichinger

ilse aichinger, ilse aichinger spiegelgeschichte
Ilse Aichinger 1 November 1921 – 11 November 2016 was an Austrian writer known for her accounts of her persecution by the Nazis because of her Jewish ancestry She wrote poems, short stories and radio plays, and won multiple European literary prizes


  • 1 Early life
  • 2 Career
    • 21 Awards
    • 22 Works
      • 221 Translations
  • 3 Personal life
  • 4 References
  • 5 External links
  • 6 Further reading

Early life

Aichinger was born in 1921 in Vienna, along with her twin sister, Helga de, to Berta, a doctor of Jewish ethnicity, and Ludwig, a teacher As her mother's family was assimilated, the children were raised Catholic Aichinger spent her childhood in Linz and, after her parents divorced, she moved to Vienna with her mother and sister, attending a Catholic secondary school After the Anschluss in 1938, her family was subjected to Nazi persecution As a half Jew she was not allowed to continue her studies and became a slave labourer in a button factory Her sister Helga escaped from Nazism in July 1939 through a Kindertransport to England where she eventually gave birth to a daughter, who became English artist Ruth Rix During World War II, Aichinger was able to hide her mother in her assigned room, in front of the Hotel Metropol, the Viennese Gestapo headquarters But many relatives from her mother's side, among them her grandmother Gisela, were taken to the Maly Trostenets extermination camp near Minsk, and killed


In 1945, Aichinger began to study medicine at the University of Vienna, while writing in her spare time In her first publication, Das vierte Tor The Fourth Gate, she wrote about her experience under Nazism In 1947 she and her mother Berta were able to travel to London and visit Aichinger's twin Helga and her daughter Ruth The visit was the inspiration for a short story, "Dover"

She gave up her studies in 1948 in order to finish her novel, Die größere Hoffnung "The greater hope", translated as Herod's Children The book went on to become one of the top German-language novels of the twentieth century It is a surrealist account of a child's persecution by the Nazis in Vienna

In 1949, Aichinger wrote the short story "Spiegelgeschichte" English: "Mirror Story" or "Story in a mirror" It was published in four parts in an Austrian newspaper, and is well known in Austria because it is part of the set of books taught in schools The story is written backwards, beginning with the end of the biography of the unnamed woman, and ending with her early childhood

In 1949, Aichinger became a reader for publishing houses in Vienna and Frankfurt, and worked with Inge Scholl to found an Institute of Creative Writing in Ulm, Germany

In 1951, Aichinger was invited to join the writers' group Gruppe 47, a group which aimed to spread democratic ideas in post-war Austria She read her story "Spiegelgeschichte" aloud at a meeting of the group, and leading group members such as Hans Werner Richter were impressed with the unusual narrative construction The following year, she won the group's prize for best text, becoming the first female recipient In 1956, she joined the Academy of Arts, Berlin She was also a guest lecturer at the German Institute at the University of Vienna, teaching on literature and psychoanalysis

Reviewing a 1957 volume of her short works in translation, The Bound Man and Other Stories, Anthony Boucher describes Aichinger as "a sort of concise Kafka," praising the title story, "Der gefesselte Mann" "The Bound Man", for its "narrative use of multi-valued symbolism", The similarity to Kafka's work has been frequently commented on, however other critics state that Aichinger's work goes beyond Kafka's in her emphasis on the emotional side of human suffering

After the death of her husband, the German poet Günter Eich, in 1972, Aichinger and others edited his works and published them as Collected Works of Gunter Eich In 1996, at the age of 75, she was the host of a German radio series Studio LCB for the Literary Colloquium Berlin

Aichinger died on 11 November 2016, aged 95


  • Group 47 Literature Prize 1952
  • Immermann-Preis 1955
  • Literaturpreis der Stadt Bremen 1957
  • Großer Literaturpreis der Bayerischen Akademie der Schönen Künste 1961, 1991
  • Anton Wildgans Prize 1968
  • Nelly Sachs Prize 1971
  • Roswitha Prize 1975
  • Petrarca-Preis 1982
  • Europalia Literature Prize 1987
  • Grand Austrian State Prize 1995
  • Austrian State Prize for European Literature 1996
  • Joseph-Breitbach-Preis, co-recipient with W G Sebald and Markus Werner 2000


  • 1945: Das vierte Tor The Fourth Gate, essay
  • 1948: Die größere Hoffnung The Greater Hope, novel, adapted to a stage play in 2015
  • 1949: "Spiegelgeschichte", short story
  • 1951: Rede unter dem Galgen Speech under the Gallows, short stories
  • 1953: Der Gefesselte The Bound Man, short stories
  • 1953: Knöpfe Buttons, radio play, adapted to stage play in 1957
  • 1954: Plätze und Strassen Squares and streets, short stories
  • 1957: Zu keiner Stunde Szenen und Dialoge Not at Any Time Scenes and dialogues, radio plays, dramatised in 1996 at the Volkstheater, Vienna
  • 1963: Wo ich wohne Where I Live, short stories
  • 1965: Eliza, Eliza, short stories
  • 1968: Meine Sprache und ich, short stories
  • 1969: Auckland, radio plays
  • 1970: Nachricht vom Tag News of the Day, short stories
  • 1973: Zweifel an Balkonen Doubts about Balconies, short story
  • 1974: Gare maritime, radio play
  • 1976: Schlechte Wörter Inferior Words, short stories;
  • 1978: Verschenkter Rat, poems
  • 1996: Kleist, Moos, Fasane, collection of short works
  • 2001: Film und Verhängnis Blitzlichter auf ein Leben Film and fate Flashlights on a life, autobiography
  • 2005: Unglaubwürdige Reisen, short stories
  • 2006: Subtexte, essay


  • The Bound Man and Other Stories Translated by Eric Mosbacher Secker & Warburg, London 1955
  • Herod's Children Translated by Cornelia Schaeffer Atheneum, New York 1963
  • Selected Stories and Dialogs Ed by James C Alldridge Pergamon Press, Oxford, New York 1966
  • Selected Poetry and Prose Ed and translated by Allen H Chappel With an introduction by Lawrence L Langer Logbridge-Rhodes, Durango, Colorado 1983

Personal life

Aichinger met the poet and radio play author Günter Eich through the Group 47 and they were married in 1953; they had a son Clemens de 1954–1998, and in 1958 a daughter, Mirjam


  1. ^ a b c "Ilse Aichinger", Encyclopædia Britannica
  2. ^ a b c d e f g "World War II saga: Gail Wiltshire revisits Ilse Aichinger’s novel" by Tess Livingstone, The Australian, 8 August 2015
  3. ^ "Ilse Aichinger" by Meike Fechner and Susanne Wirtz, in Lebendiges Museum Online German
  4. ^ a b Krispyn, Egbert 1971 Günter Eich Twayne's World Authors New York: Twayne Publishers 
  5. ^ a b c d e f g h i j wwwdwcom, Deutsche Welle "Postwar narrator of Nazi persecution, Ilse Aichinger, dies aged 95 | News | DWCOM | 11112016" DWCOM Retrieved 2016-11-13 
  6. ^ a b See Resler, W Michael: "A Structural Approach to Aichinger's 'Spiegelgeschichte'", in: Die Unterrichtspraxis / Teaching German, Vol 12, No 1 Spring, 1979, pp 30–37 jstor-link
  7. ^ See Stanley, Patricia Haas: "Ilse Aichinger's Absurd 'I'", in: German Studies Review, Vol 2, No 3 Oct, 1979, pp 331–350 jstor-link
  8. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Herrmann, Elizabeth Rütschi 2014 German Women Writers of the Twentieth Century Elsevier p 67 
  9. ^ a b acfl28 2016-03-03 "Inspiring Austrian Women: Ilse Aichinger" ACF Digital Salon Retrieved 2016-11-13 
  10. ^ "Recommended Reading", F&SF, July 1957, p 91
  11. ^ a b c d "- Unerkundbar, undurchschaubar" Deutschlandfunk in German Retrieved 2016-11-13 
  12. ^ "Literatur: Schriftstellerin Ilse Aichinger ist tot" 1 November 2016 – via Sueddeutschede 
  13. ^ a b c d e f g h Konzett, Matthias 2000 Encyclopedia of German Literature US and UK: Fitzroy Dearborn ISBN 1-57958-138-2 
  14. ^ Livingstone, Tess August 8, 2015 "World War II saga: Gail Wiltshire revisits Ilse Aichinger's novel" The Australian Retrieved 13 November 2016 
  15. ^ Ivanovic, Christine 2010-01-01 "Meine Sprache und Ich Ilse Aichingers Zwiesprache im Vergleich mit Derridas Le monolinguisme de l'autre" Arcadia – International Journal for Literary Studies 45 1 doi:101515/arca2010006 ISSN 1613-0642 
  16. ^ http://wwwopus5de, opus5 interaktive medien gmbh, "S Fischer Verlage – Auckland Taschenbuch" wwwfischerverlagede in German Retrieved 2016-11-13 
  17. ^ "fischertheaterde – Fischer Theater" wwwfischertheaterde Retrieved 2016-11-13 
  18. ^ http://wwwopus5de, opus5 interaktive medien gmbh, "S Fischer Verlage – Verschenkter Rat Taschenbuch" wwwfischerverlagede in German Retrieved 2016-11-13 
  19. ^ http://wwwopus5de, opus5 interaktive medien gmbh, "S Fischer Verlage – Kleist, Moos, Fasane Taschenbuch" wwwfischerverlagede in German Retrieved 2016-11-13 
  20. ^ http://wwwopus5de, opus5 interaktive medien gmbh, "S Fischer Verlage – Unglaubwürdige Reisen Taschenbuch" wwwfischerverlagede in German Retrieved 2016-11-13 
  21. ^ "Ilse Aichinger" wwwkorrespondenzenat Retrieved 2016-11-13 
  22. ^ "The Bound Man, and Other Stories by Ilse Aichinger |" wwwcopypresscouk Retrieved 2016-11-13 
  23. ^ "Review: Ilse Aichinger's Die größere Hoffnung" Dialog International Retrieved 2016-11-13 
  24. ^ "Herod's children / Ilse Aichinger ; translated from the German by Cornelia Schaeffer – Collections Search – United States Holocaust Memorial Museum" collectionsushmmorg Retrieved 2016-11-13 

External links

  • Ilse Aichinger at the Internet Book List
  • "Aichinger, Ilse" International Who's Who Accessed September 1, 2006 subscription required
  • Ilse Aichinger at perlentaucherde – das Kulturmagazin German
  • Aichinger, Ilse: "Spiegelgeschichte", in: Der Gefesselte, Frankfurt am Main: Fischer, 1953 worldcat-link

Further reading

  • A Spatial Reading of Ilse Aichinger's Novel 'Die größere Hoffnung' by Gail Wiltshire, Königshausen & Neumann, Würzburg 2015 German ISBN 978-3826057076

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