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Darkness Spoken gathers together Ingeborg Bachmann’s two celebrated books of poetry, as well as the early and late poems not collected in book form. Our new revised second edition (2024) has everything our first edition (2005) had, plus more. It contains the 129 poems that had then just been released from Bachmann’s archives and had never before been translated, twenty-five of which appeared in German for the first time as well. But the new edition also benefits from extensive archival research that translator Peter Filkins has undertaken over the last few years while writing a biography of Bachmann (forthcoming, Yale University Press). Filkins has made revisions to about a quarter of the translations based on his research, and added seven poems from Bachmann's youth that have never been translated or published before. 


Darkness Spoken is the definitive edition of Bachmann's poetry, and allows us to trace  her growth as a writer. She continued to write poems throughout her career, even while developing the ideas for her groundbreaking novels. Just as her Malina sought to expand the possibilities of the novel, Darkness Spoken contains the bedrock of a vision as far reaching as it is indelible, and as uncompromising as it is bound to hope. Through translation of the poems, scholarly notes, and a critical introduction, this volume attests to Bachmann’s achievement, and to her reputation as one of the most important European poets of the second half of the twentieth century.


Ingeborg Bachmann was born in 1926 in Klagenfurt, Austria. She studied philosophy at the universities of Innsbruck, Graz, and Vienna, where she wrote her dissertation on the philosophy of Martin Heidegger. In 1953 she received the poetry prize from Gruppe 47 for her first volume, Borrowed Time (Die gestundete Zeit), after which there followed her second collection, Invocation of the Great Bear (Anrufung des großen Bären), in 1956. Bachmann also went on to write short stories, essays, opera libretti, and novels, including The Thirtieth Year, Malina, and The Book of Franza. At the time of her death in a fire in Rome in 1973, Bachmann was at work on a cycle of novels titled Todesarten (Ways of Dying), of which Malina was the first published volume.


Along with her close friend Paul Celan, Bachmann was considered the premiere German language poet of her generation. Her various awards include the Georg Büchner Prize, the Berlin Critics Prize, the Bremen Award, and the Austrian State Prize for literature. Her work remains highly influential to this day, and she is now regarded as a pioneer of European feminism and postwar literature. Influencing numerous writers from Thomas Bernhard to Christa Wolf, Bachmann’s poetic investigation into the nature and limits of language in the face of history remains unmatched in its ability to combine philosophical insight with haunting lyricism.


Peter Filkins has published two volumes of poetry, What She Knew (1998) and After Homer (2002), and has translated Bachmann’s The Book of Franza and Requiem for Fanny Goldmann. He is the recipient of an Outstanding Translation Award from the American Literary Translators Association, and the Berlin Prize from the American Academy in Berlin. He teaches at Simon’s Rock College of Bard in Great Barrington, Massachusetts.

Darkness Spoken, by Ingeborg Bachmann

  • Darkness Spoken: Collected Poems of Ingeborg Bachmann

    Ingeborg Bachmann
    from German by Peter Filkins
    ISBN 9781938890338 (paper, revised second edition, May 2024)
    5½ x 8¼
    688 pages [bilingual German/English]

  • “…we must be immensely grateful that Peter Filkins has now given us the fullest and the best translations we have in English of this magnificent poet.”
    – Charles Simic

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