|Colonization and Magical World View in
Ingeborg Bachmann´s Fragment of a Novel Das Buch Franza*
Monika Albrecht (Münster)
In 1966, in the German periodical Merkur Herbert Lüthi offered the following observation: »Let the pejorative colonialism serve as a retrospective curse. The concept of colonization cannot be detached from its original sense of development, of cultivation and of cultural transplantation, and so history is full of examples that decolonization is never anything but regression.«With such a self-confident view of the achievements of modern western civilization, in the sixties people all over the western world tried to justify the system of colonialism in retrospect. At the other end of the political spectrum, by contrast, there was a fierce denouncement of the strategies the West used to consolidate its supremacy in the new international context - once again to the detriment of the nations they had formerly exploited. Between those opposing points of view and against the backdrop of a growing number of trouble spots in the former colonies, it was only in the mid-sixties that the so-called neo-colonialism debate took its belated start in the German-speaking world. The periodical Kursbuch, newly founded and edited at that time by Hans Magnus Enzensberger, played an important role in this discussion. Beginning with the second issue that appeared in August 1965, this periodical often dealt with matters concerning the Third World - and, almost simultanously, in July of that year, the Berlin periodical Das Argument launched a series of special issues on the topic of »Problems of the developing World«. In Kursbuch, Enzensberger described the contemporary political situation as an increasingly crass opposition between »us« and »them«, between the first and the third world. With special attention to the slogans of the yellow peril or the black scare which were then circulating in the entire western world - in the US, he might also have mentioned the red scare and the black list -, he questioned why people rarely talked about a white scare. Half a year later, this white scare was once again vehemently conjured up, not by a former colonized person, but by a white woman who accused her white husband, and later the entire white race, of mental colonization and exploitation: »The whites [...]. May they be damned« (KA 2, 235) are the last words spoken by the fictional character Franziska Ranner. At the official end of the colonial age, Ingeborg Bachmann, in her fragment of a novel, The Book of Franza (Das Buch Franza), portrayed the marriage of her title character as a relationship between (male) colonizer and colonized (female), and the termination of the marriage as an attempt at decolonization.
Yet, Bachmann did not finish this colonization story of a white woman and, obviously, five years later a change of great magnitude had already taken place. The title character of the Franza novel still compared her situation with that of colonized people and claimed: »I am a Papua« (KA 2, 232). The novel Malina, however, observes that due to our civilizing »we have [...] forfeited the honor of even being considered alongside the wildest savage«. Moreover, in almost each of the numerous interviews conducted after the appearance of her first novel, Bachmann emphasized that you cannot depict the consciousness of an era by »reiterating the sentences society speaks« (GuI, 71f.). »You may wonder«, she said in her interview with Toni Kienlechner: »Where, for example, does the Viet Nam War come into place here, where are the world affairs? But the world affairs are just compulsory exercises. My writing is not program music. It is not as though you would have written something about the age that way, and I don´t believe that it is the job of literature to write about its time this way«. But just that - reiterating such sentences as society speaks - is, to a great extent, what Bachmann herself did in the novel The Book of Franza, which, however, had already been written and left untouched in a drawer for several years at the time of the Malina interviews. So, when Bachmann so adamantly insisted on this position in the interviews and even more emphatically one year later in her acceptance speech for the Wildgans Prize, this cannot be explained simply by the fact that she had to defend her novel Malina against the demands made on literature in these politically turbulent times. It would appear that she had considered the earlier Franza novel in danger of becoming »program music«. But, of course, this cannot be gleaned from the text, because Bachmann did not impart how, in her opinion, one should write about the time. In any case, the question of whether such principles of poetics played a role when she stopped working on the Franza novel could not be posed before the preconditions were established. To date, however, the degree to which Bachmann´s work is embedded in its period of origin has not yet been investigated. Bachmann scholarship is only now on the verge of discovering that Bachmann is no longer a contemporary author, but rather a protegee of the fifties and sixties.
In the first decade after Bachmann´s rediscovery in the early eighties, Bachmann scholars assumed that the failure of the Franza novel could be attributed to autobiographical causes or the situation of a woman writing in general, and an observation by Christa Wolf became very popular. She had maintained in 1982 in her Frankfurt Lecture: »Bachmann [...] is the woman Franza in the novel fragment The Franza Case who simply cannot get a grip on her life, cannot give it a form; who simply cannot manage to make her experience into a presentable story«. In those days, however, neither the circumstances of the book´s failure nor Bachmann´s comments on it were commonly known, since this was not disclosed on the occasion of the first posthumous publication of the fragmentary novel in the Collected Works edition in 1978. After the four-part reading from the unfinished novel in March 1966, Bachmann seems to have continued working unswervingly; in the summer or the fall, the novel was obviously abandoned for a while, and, in November 1966, she informed the Piper publishing house: »I suddenly understood that it can´t work like this. It is not only the rough spots and some individual pages that bother me [...], the manuscript seems to me like a helpless allusion to something which is yet to be written«. The verdict, then, refers to the novel as a whole and not only to the middle chapter »Jordan Time,« which seems to invite speculations in this regard because of its explosive content. The question of the possible causes of the failure is thus to be applied, above all, to the overall concept of the novel. To this end, however, it is necessary to read the novel in a quite different light than it has usually been read. It has thus far been taken for granted that the novel was certainly unfinished but nevertheless a brilliant literary work. The conditions for a more critical approach like the one I shall present are much better today than they were in the eighties, because, with a growing distance from the time of origin of Bachmann´s Todesarten-project, contradictions which had obligingly been ignored for a long time are now identifiable. This quite welcome development in our perception is not to be misunderstood as a devaluation or derogation of Bachmann´s prose project. I am rather talking about a new approach which considers the virtues but also the limitations of Bachmann´s work against the backdrop of its period of origin; in the case of those texts that have remained fragmentary it is now imperative that the works in progress stage of these texts be taken seriously.
Against the backdrop of these various questions, I will attempt to provide, as an example, a critical revision of Bachmann´s depiction of the marriage of her novel character as a relationship between a (male) colonizer and a colonized (female). To a large extent, the novel owes its reputation for a radical critique of western civilization to the opposition colonizer/colonized combined with the female protagonist´s magical world view. According to the predominant trend in the interpretation of Bachmann´s work during the eighties, the Whites represent »the realization that the history of colonization and the history of patriarchal society have different victims, but only one offender.« It is probably not purely coincidental that several quotations come to mind by association: »I am of an inferior race«; »He took from me what goods I had« [like the Whites took what the Blacks had]; »I am a Papua. You can only rob those who really live with magic.« Inevitably, these sentences have been quoted time after time ever since Christa Wolf described them as »key sentences« of the novel in the early eighties. To date, however, they have yet to be taken to task as the subject of scholarly criticism. On closer examination these statements occupy only a limited amount of space in the novel - that is, little more than one printed page - as a kind of concentration and culmination of the novel´s fundamental motifs. In the 1978 Collected Works edition, this confluence of motifs makes up the end of the chapter »Jordan Time«. In the completely revised version of the critical edition, it is situated in the context from which it emerged, that is, at the beginning of the version of the chapter »Jordan Time« which was actually written last. Consequently, this explosive page of text is of particular interest. But, first - by pointing out several references that demonstrate that the Franza novel actually reiterates a lot of sentences that this society speaks (that is, the society of the sixties) - I wish to shed some light on the period of origin as a backdrop for this novel visible.
In November of 1959, in the first of her Frankfurt Lectures, Bachmann said: »Surely no one believes anymore today that writing takes place outside of the historical situation - that there is even one writer whose point of departure is not determined by the circumstances of his times.« (WA IV, 297) In her 1958 Radio Play, The Good God of Manhattan, she had already mentioned the vocabulary of the period that Enzensberger recalled again in the mid-sixties: »when the light turns green / beware the red and the brown / the black and the yellow peril« (WA I, 276). It is obvious that the inclusion of the colonization theme in the Franza novel, too, involves precisely this kind of rootedness in current affairs and, as implied by the above-mentioned reference to the onset of the neo-colonization debate in the German-speaking world at this time, is clearly a direct treatment of the period´s contemporary political themes. A glimpse at the intellectual venues and publications that set the tone for this period accentuates the degree to which the Franza novel is embedded in the contemporary political debates of the sixties.
In the August 1965 edition of the Kursbuch, which included a pre-publication version of the first chapter of Frantz Fanon´s The Wretched of the Earth in German translation, Enzensberger describes, in his own essay, the »double bind« that Fanon is caught up in: »He predicts the end of the European gamble, but makes his proclamation in French. He contradicts the European values he rejects with the concept of the New Man, an idea of venerable age which contributed to all of the European ideologies from Christianity up to Stalinism, but which did not exactly gain conciseness or force of expression in the process.« The discussion surrounding the mental colonization of the »leading speakers among peoples of poverty« in the Kursbuch was carried further by Peter Weiss, among others. The literary works of Third World writers whose books appeared in increasing number in German-language translations in the sixties also dealt with mental colonization. Bachmann´s library contains a copy of Aimé Césaire´s »Play about Patrice Lumumba« (Im Kongo) which appeared in German translation in 1966, issued by Klaus Wagenbach Verlag, then still a fledgling publishing house. There is a passage there that reads: »Could it be that there are Flemish people here? Black Flemish!« and, in another, Cesaire has the Congolese drinking Belgian beer in a toast to their independence - ironically, of course. For Bachmann, too, this aspect of mental colonization is of utmost importance in the sixties at the official end of the colonial period. This is evident when she takes Rimbaud´s »Shriek of terror« - »The whites are coming!« - one step further, extending its application to a time when the whites »are thrown back«. The Whites, according to Bachmann »will return in spirit when they cannot come any other way. And they will rise and be reborn in a brown or black brain« (KA 2, 73 and 278).
Another aspect of the colonization thematic in the Franza novel, relating to the equating of women and colonized peoples, is brought to a head in what is perhaps the most well-known of all the statements made by the Franza figure: »I am a Papua.« This analogy, too, must be viewed against the backdrop of the sixties when the first signs of the modern womens movement were already emerging. The famous dictum, »Women are the world´s negroes and the negroes of collective history,« was certainly first introduced to the German-speaking world in a contribution to the June 1969 issue of the Kursbuch, but Bachmann´s Franza figure cannot lay claim to authorship for the parallels drawn between racism and sexism expressed in the famed Papua citation. The argument that »women are discriminated against in the same way that ethnic minorities are because colonial racism follows the same basic logic as sexism« was already posed alongside the theory of the primacy of patriarchy in the feminist discourse of the early sixties. For example, in the periodical Das Argument, a series of articles on the »Emancipation of Women: The Problematics of Sexuality and Domination« was published beginning in 1962. This demonstrates how self-evident it was at this time for women, members of the working class and people of non European heritage to be mentioned in the same breath. Recapitulating the year-long debate in Das Argument, Ursula Schmiederer, in 1965, summed up by contending that it was »absolutely legitimate« to lump together minorities »whose fate is an index for the repressive tendencies of a social system in general«. The saying that would later be oft-cited, »Women are the world´s negroes«, reminiscent of Bachmann´s Papua citation, originated from these debates in the early and mid-sixties. Besides, Bachmann´s Franza novel also reflects the discussion surrounding questions concerning the pre-eminence of oppressive mechanisms - whether it be membership in a social class, gender or race - and the early attempts at demonstrating structural connections in this balance of political and social power. Rimbaud´s racial metaphor - »I am of an inferior race« - serves the protagonist not only as a comparison of her situation with that of oppressed peoples; taking up the discourse of the sixties, she conjoins Friedrich Engel´s thesis of the »first class opposition«: »Or wouldn´t it have to be class? Because I <have> been exploited, used« (KA 2, 230).
Finally, I would like to mention two further aspects of the intellectual climate of the sixties that are particularly pertinent in conjunction with Bachmann´s mooring of the colonization theme to the magical world view of her title character. For one thing, Wilhelm Reich was rediscovered at this time and - as an indirect consequence - among others the works of Bronislaw Malinowski (1884-1942), who conducted field research during the period between the World Wars in what is now Papua-New Guinea. Books like Sex and Repression in Savage Society, which appeared in the German language in 1962, for example, became the trail blazers for the countercultural movement that flourished in the late sixties and were characterized not least of all by an interest in the lifestyle of the so-called primitive peoples, a trend that has resurfaced repeatedly ever since the 18th Century because »primitive societies illuminate, by contrast, the dark side of world civilization«. Furthermore, the sixties were a time in which shifts in thinking on decisive questions in anthropology and ethnology were occuring. Particularly the issue of how foreign peoples´ way of thinking stood in relationship to that of the western researchers was thoroughly re-examined. By the late fifties and early sixties, the ethnocentric perception of these peoples as a primitive preliminary stage of development to our own advanced civilization, a view endemic to the 19th century framework and its scholarly tradition, had been abandoned for the most part. So, for example, where the magical practices of primitive peoples had previously been considered »prime examples of false consciousness«, from this point on, the question was posed as to whether the »principles and basic premises« of ethnology as a discipline did not themselves »result from ethnocentricism - the representation of foreign cultures in the image of one´s own«. Another result of this reorientation was attempts to reevaluate the so called primitive ways of thinking, efforts that went hand in hand with a cultural critique of the rational world view of the West - a world view which was henceforth seen as »not merely distinct from the magical world view, it is inimical to it«.
So, when in 1964 Bachmann´s novel character Franza pronounces her husband Leo Jordan a colonizer and claims for herself: »I am a Papua. You can only rob those who really live with magic and for me, everything has meaning« (KA 2, 232), she has found a metaphor for her situation which reflects its period of origin in several ways. It was perhaps less typical of the sixties to give precedence to these varying ways of thinking and living as such when examining the colonial relationships. But this very problem - the collision of contradicting cultures and its effect on the psyche of those impacted by it - was obviously one that became a central concern for Bachmann in The Book of Franza. At the same time, against the backdrop of increasing political awareness in the sixties, this theme was marginalized from the discussion. So, for example, Albert Memmi's The Colonizer and the Colonized - written in French in 1955/56 - was not published in German until 1980. In it, the (Tunisian-French) author analyses the way the colonial framework forms character traits and dictates behavior in people on either side of the relationship. When it first appeared on the market in the French original, it became a standard work for the colonial opposition. Frantz Fanon´s second book - his political pamphlet against neo-colonization, The Wretched of the Earth - was translated into German in 1966, several years before his first, Black Skin, White Masks. With its central focus on cultural collision and its consequences for those affected by it, Black Skin, White Masks, though written in the fifties, shared the fate of Albert Memmi's book and wasn´t translated into German until 1980 - two years after the publication of the original version of Edward Said´s Orientalism, which is now considered a standard reference work in post-colonialist theory.
In the early seventies, Bachmann described »world events« as a supposedly »compulsory exercise« for writers, one she had no desire to undertake herself - not anymore, I might add, in light of the wide array of contemporary themes to which she paid tribute in the mid-sixties in a way that she would presumably criticize at a later date. It is not difficult to discern the motivation driving her to do this in the novel. In the chapter, »Darkness over Egypt«, Franza asks her brother a question, one that obviously occupied Bachmann´s thoughts very early on and that would take on an increasingly central role in the Todesarten-project - the question of the relationship between the life history of the individual and of world history: »My story and the story of all people; together, they surely comprise the sum of history, but where are the points of intersection between these and the whole of history?« (KA 2, 270) The thematisation of colonialism, much like Bachmann´s treatment of facism, is to be seen against the backdrop of this question. And, when Bachmann conceives the characters Jordan and Franza in terms of »two protagonists in the colonial drama«, she is obviously ferreting out the nascent core of the political balance of imperialistic power in interpersonal human behavior. The question, then, becomes one of whether the answers Franza herself finds concerning the relationship between individual history and the »whole of history« are congruent with those the novel strives to provide. First, though, a question must be posed of the text itself: the question of the degree to which - to come to the point - the Franza figure´s dubious understanding of history was intended as such.
The Franza figure´s oft-cited statement, in which she maintains that Jordan has colonized her mentality and places herself in relationship to the victims of colonization, is located in the latest version of the »Jordan Time« chapter. It was only in this advanced phase of work that the colonizer/colonized opposition was expressed explicitly and brought in conjunction with the magical world view motif. Franza contends in this text - to cite just one preliminary example that was not revealed in the earlier Collected Works version of the text - that Jordan »scalped the whole of her golden Galician skin« (KA 2, 230) and thus alludes to the »el Dorado« myth that fueled the conquistadors´ greed for gold in the 16th century and drove them to ever more marauding operations and haphazard plundering throughout the New World. The comparison of the title figure with the victims of colonization follows immediately in a confluence of motifs that now directly addresses the stages of this history. These citations from the Franza fragment are the so-called »key sentences« Christa Wolf presented at the end of her Frankfurt Lecture: »The Aborigines in Australia were never annihilated, and still they are becoming extinct, and the clinical studies are unable to identify any organic causes, there is a fatal desperation among the Papuas, a sort of suicide stemming from their belief that the whites have used magical means to take possession of all their goods, and were the Incas really slaughtered by gruesome bandits alone, by these few? and the Muruts today in North Borneo, dying, now that they´ve come in contact with civilization, and before, all the races of people you introduced to alcohol, they annihilated themselves in their desperation.« (KA 2, 230f.) What follows is a brief characterization of the Jordanian marriage in metaphorical images and similes, all of which are borrowed from the history of colonization, and finally, Franza gets to the heart of the matter by drawing an analogy between her situation and that of the Aborigines in New Guinea: »I am a Papua. You can only rob those who really live with magic, and for me, everything has meaning.« (KA 2, 232)
In light of these parallels drawn by the Franza figure (and their unreflected reiteration in scholarship on the subject), the critical question has already been posed as to »whether or not the (cultural-) political situation [...] of Third World peoples supplies the material for analogies that are incorporated into the White woman´s dominant perspective of affliction and suffering and (in the representation) receive no intrinsic value.« A related question would be, firstly, how this way of exploiting the experiences of foreign peoples actually takes shape, what conclusions does this sort of embodiment arrive at? When viewed in relation to the contemporary discourse on the subject of neo-colonialism that provided the backdrop for the genesis of The Book of Franza, it is conspicuous that, in spite of this discourse, physical or political and military force does not even get a mention in Bachmann's novel. In point of fact, Franza appears to actually qualify this aspect, if not go so far as to call it entirely into question. Bachmann´s protagonist - and this has thus far been overlooked - reduces rather high handedly the acts of genocide commited against American Indian populations to the bungles by but a handful of bandits and furthermore undertakes less than pleasing corrective adjustments to the more recent history of colonization: In the case of the Australian Aborigines, she doesn't even bother to ask whether they »really were slaughtered by gruesome bandits alone, by these few?«; instead, she categorically denies it: »The Aborigines in Australia were never annihilated, and still they are becoming extinct, and the clinical studies are unable to identify any organic causes«. Well, we can hardly speak in terms of the Aborigines never having been »annihilated«. At the very latest, by the time tensions between the colonizers and native populations escalated to a declaration of martial law in the early nineteenth century and a bounty price was placed on the head of every Aborigine, this country became »the scene of the first act of genocide in modern history«. It wasn't until the 1930´s that »the politics of assimilation and antibiotics finally put an end to the mass of deaths«, so that the Aboriginal population has increased in number since then.
To take it one step ahead of the game: The rest of the Franza figure´s famous statement is comprised of similar mistakes and, naturally, the question arises as to why this is so. Bachmann stressed more than once in her interviews her political and historical interests (see GuI, 42f.); it would follow, then, that a deficit in the author´s historical awareness could not be at fault for the fictional character's egregious manipulation of history. We could of course ask whether it is not this very reluctance even to consider the possibility of an author's error that may have been partly responsible for the fact that mistakes made by the Franza figure have gone unnoticed in twenty years of research on the Franza novel, and thus could not have been examined as such. We could perhaps take it a step further and maintain that contradictions and inconsistencies have barely been brought into view because the fragmentary character of the Franza novel has not been taken seriously up until now. Every introduction to every study pays obligatory tribute to the unfinished state of the novel, but that´s where it ends, and The Book of Franza is subsequently read as though it were a wholly completed text - the assumption being, among others, that you can expect a serious author to know what she's talking about when information from distant fields of special knowledge surface in her text. If I may suggest for the moment an entirely different possibility: this being one of the latest sections created in the genesis of the Franza novel, we cannot, in my opinion, rule out the idea that Bachmann may well have written it without having researched it more carefully. It is entirely plausible to think that these famous lines may not be rooted in a reliable source, but the manner in which various stages of colonialist history are mentioned in one and the same breath suggests perhaps a specific common source: a documentary film, for example, perhaps even a report from a magazine. After all, the opening of the »Jordan Time« chapter is one that was left more or less in a draft version; the extant text was not intended for publication, so there is no reason it should not contain sentences which have not been thought out. If I am correct in postulating that Bachmann took her information from an unreliable source, it would certainly mean that for the past twenty years preliminary sketches have been accepted as »key sentences« of the novel without any regard for their status in the genesis of the work. So my suspicion is not a triviality. But we cannot prove it now nor will we be able to at some future date if Bachmann´s source is ever revealed: what we are dealing with here are the words of a fictional character, so the possibility also exists that Franza´s flaw was intended by the author, and this will have to be examined very carefully. For now, though, I would like to elaborate on the reasons for my heretical suspicion.
The prefaces accompanying the work on The Book of Franza offer one example of the fact that the first time the author takes up an idea does not necessarily lead to the immediate formulation of completely thought out sentences, but rather that it can at first occur on a more or less unreflected level - and this example, incidentally, relates, too, to the theme of violent crime I am dealing with here. Echoing J. A. Barbey d´Aurevilly, »one of the pioneers in literary decadence«, in these prefaces Bachmann formulates aspects central to the conceptualization of the Todesarten project, which revolves around the crimes committed by modern civilization - around murder cases, then, in which, unlike the crimes of colonialism and fascism, there is no bloodshed. When the author follows Barbey almost a century later in speaking of »crimes of barbarism«, she appears to be referring first and foremost to the massacres of the Third Reich; but we can also see a fundamental attempt to come to terms with the problems of violent crime on the one hand and the »non-violent« crimes of civilization on the other. Interestingly, the further along she progressed in her work, the more critical Bachmann became in her consideration of her source. In the beginning, she recapitulates Barbey's narration in A Woman's Vengeance almost verbatim when she speaks of the bloodless »crimes of this civilization,« which are »much more atrocious than those of the basest barbarism« (KA 2, 72). But she also seems to have soon become aware of the dubiousness of her contention, because she subsequently retracts her assessment to the point where, in the third and last preface of this series, she speaks merely in terms of »crimes that require intellect and that move our minds« where there is »no bloodshed and the slaughter occurs within the parameters of the permissible and proper etiquette« (KA 2, 78). The fundamental comparison of the nonviolent crimes of civilization with the bloody crimes of barbarism that so obviously fascinated Bachmann about Barbey's text thus remains intact; but the presumptuous conclusion drawn here - namely, that crimes of intellect are much more horrific - was relinquished by the author the more she concerned herself with her source. On closer examination, then, we see that Bachmann originally kept to her source without questioning it. In the case of the Franza figure´s statements on the Australian Aborigines and the Incas, there are, however, no existent stages of development or processing, so a critical question mark like the one reflected in her processing of the Barbey citations cannot be ascertained here.
One of the reasons Franza´s statement has not been illuminated from a critical perspective can perhaps be gleaned from the simple fact that Bachmann research has not taken note of certain aspects of this figure. Otherwise, it would have been inevitable to register that, for example, the question of the Inca´s fate was not politically inocuous and not, I might add, just from today's perspective. The question of whether the Incas »were really slaughtered by gruesome bandits alone« must be seen against the backdrop of a historiography that barely acknowledges the murder of a single native. Because even when Franza takes an unambiguous stand on the question of responsibility from another angle, it is one thing to place »culture shock« as a cause of death in the foreground, but it is another thing to ignore the violent crimes of history or worse, to deny their very occurance. While this latter representation of colonialist history was anything but obsolete in the sixties, it elicits substantial cause for concern when expressed here as a statement made by a literary character so steeped in positive connotations as Ingeborg Bachmann's Franza. Especially since the author could have, and perhaps did, know better: Her library contains a copy of the Spanish author Bartolomé de Las Casas' Brief Account of the Devastation of the Indies (1542) - in an edition that appeared at the very same time that the author was working on the Franza novel, namely, in 1966, edited and with an afterword by Hans Magnus Enzensberger. The Dominican monk Las Casas spent four decades of his life in the just then discovered New World before he wrote his Brief Account of the Spaniard´s massacres and, nowadays, is considered by many historians to be the first European to »have understood the profound questionability of the colonial phenomenon.«  It is along the same line that Enzensberger introduces the new 1966 edition found in Bachmann´s library and he points out that, in light of more recent research results, Las Casas »was probably rather too careful with his figures.« Thus, if Bachmann actually ever took this book into account and did not simply discard and disregard it as a gift from the editor - which is yet another possiblity - she must have been conscious of how very dubious Franza´s doubts about the violent extermination of the Incas were. But, as far as the remaining aspects of Franza´s statements, this is not neccessarily applicable.
The excursion into the world of the Papuas, however, is reminiscent of a cult movement that flourished in the region in question, particularly in the first half of this century: the so-called »cargo-cults« that were actually interpreted to be a reaction to contact with Whites. Cargo cults are based, on the one hand, on the belief that the ancestors will return in the near future bringing along an overabundance of »cargo« - that is, all the things the Papuas saw that the Whites had - and, on the other hand, on the conviction that the New Guinea natives are actually entitled to the goods the Whites have, a concept that must be viewed against the backdrop of our completely different concept of property ownership and cannot be discussed in detail here. This belief sprang from a situation in which people »still using stone tools, and who only yesterday had never seen a white man, have stepped straight into a world of radios and aeroplanes«, and developed as a result »a desire for the goods of the White man«. They believed that »secret magical power was the key to the wealth of the Europeans« and, since the goods never came, that the Whites used these magical powers to keep the goods from the natives. This is the only thing Franza could be referring to when she speaks of the Papuan belief that the Whites »used magical means to take possession of all their goods«. But what is at issue here are the cultural goods of the Whites, not New Guinea´s natural resources. Aside from the fact that a comparison between these cargo cults and Franza´s situation would make no sense, the very convoluted manner in which the imagination and rites of foreign peoples are distorted in this depiction leads us to suspect that we are not dealing with a conscious construction of texts by the author, but simply with the reproduction of an unreliable source.
Franza´s understanding of the magical world view of so-called primitive peoples is shaped by her pre-supposed notions about religious belief among the Papuas, culminating in her contention: »I am a Papua. You can only rob those who really live with magic, and for me everything has meaning.« (KA 2, 323) One might already assume, based on the example provided by the cargo cults, that Franza´s magical world view is infected far more by the provincial Austria of her childhood than by the New Guinean territories, as yet untouched by civilization, even if the expression »to live with magic« echoes the tone of discussions about magic in the field of ethnology that experienced a renaissance in the sixties. Influential in these discussions were the contributions of Murray and Rosalie Wax, who adopted and developed the same approach introduced by the religious historian Sigmund Mowinkel and coined the term »magical world view«. According to this perspective, magic cannot be seen as a degenerate religion or pseudo science, as had thus far been the case, but rather as a coherent world view, »a way of seeing things and their interdependence.« That the magical conceptualization of the world must be understood as a cosmology was something that Sir James Frazer had already recognized a century earlier. What the sixties added to the discussion was, on the other hand, a revaluation of the thought structures of so-called primitive peoples that also characterizes the statement made by the Franza figure in the most recent introduction to the chapter »Jordan Time«. The title of a comprehensive study that provides a retrospective survey of the decade´s anthropological and ethnological research, released in the early seventies, is indicative: In Search of the Primitive. A Critique of Civilization. So, even in the early sixties, ethnologists were sometimes subject to the accusation that their assessment of primitive ways of life backlashed into a »xenomorphic conception of Western man«. The parallels Bachmann draws between the lifestyles of primitive societies and those of her Franza figure can thus perhaps be seen as stemming from this context - gleaned perhaps from popular science publications - rather than being rooted in any sound knowledge of such societies, because magic and ritual as components of social life among so-called primitive peoples must be seen as a way of enacting the ambivalences of human interaction. The primitive »society, so to speak, recognizes and provides for a wide range of human expression«. Viewed along this horizon, then, similarities between these notions of magic and those developed in the Franza novel are barely discernible.
Bachmann, however, did not draw parallels between Franza´s magical world view and the Papuas until a very late stage in the work on the novel; while the magic motif appears throughout the fragment of the novel previously, it is presented in a manner more characteristic of the superstitions in rural areas of Europe than in non-European primitive societies. Two traditional strains of thinking on conventional understandings of magic are visible in the novel: on the one hand, the notion that children and primitive peoples share the same »magical world view« and on the other hand you can find a world view like this not only in primitive peoples but also in neurotics and schizophrenics. Franza´s brother Martin, who calls her a »savage« more than once (KA 2, 149, 265), plays a central role in illuminating the first of these strains of thought because he introduces to the novel the notion that Franza´s development halted at an early stage. So, for example, he takes note of her »steep schoolgirl script« that »evidently underwent no further development after the end of the war«. (KA 2, 145). Martin´s perspective reflects an understanding »whose logical consequence is that primitive peoples´ thinking is childish and does not distinguish between cognitive associations and causal relationships in the real world.« The other traditional school of thought can be traced back to Freud´s treatise on Totem and Taboo (1912-1913), particularly the theory of »omnipotence of thoughts« developed there. This »omnipotence of thoughts«, according to Freud, is »the principle governing magic« and »it is in obsessional neuroses that [its] survival [... ] is most clearly visible«. Without exception, then, examples of magical thinking in Bachmanns Franza novel echo notions of magic that, much like those described in Freud´s treatise, are self composed by obsessional neurotics and not at all congruent with the magical and ritual practices of primitive peoples, whose very trademark is, after all, that these beliefs are not individual creations, but rather commonly shared by the social grouping/unit. So, for example, in the version of the text read in Zurich, when Franza spends the night with two Arabian men, Jordan is said to »have had a nasty night« back in Vienna at the very same time (KA 2, 32); in the most recent version of the chapter »Jordan Time« she uses her »things«, the bread basket and bowls, to exert power over Jordan from a distance: »his hand cannot remove the bread, it would sooner turn leprous, and the bread to mold, because I keep thinking about it« (KA 2, 231f.). These examples center on Franza´s belief in the »omnipotence of thoughts« or, as Freud put it elsewhere, »the overvaluation of mental processes as compared with reality« that »have unrestricted play in the emotional life of neurotic patients«. In the overall scheme of the novel, though, it is Jordan who exerts more power over Franza so that the relationship between the two characters adopts an aura of a power struggle between two magicians or sorcerors, each equipped with varying degrees of magical powers. Indeed, in a very early draft, Jordan is even called a »magician« (KA 2, 67), an idea that continues to resonate repeatedly throughout subsequent renderings of the material. Ultimately, though, all these allusions to magical practices - from Franzas alleged poisoning (KA 2, 60) to her mysterious »fits« (KA 2, 57f.) that border on obsessional neurotic behavior - can be reduced to a simple tautology: The novel undertakes an attempt to prove the contention that Jordan has caused her illness using magical means by attributing to him superior magical powers.
It is rather doubtful that the convergence of the earlier magic motif with the magical world view of primitive peoples undertaken in the Papua citation in this later stage of the works development presents an adequate solution to the dilemma. What is more, the inconsistencies increase exponentially when the relationship of magical force and power supersedes the actual historical relationship of force and power between the colonizers and the colonized. Just prior to the Papua citation, we find the assessment, »I am of an inferior race, ever since that happened, I know, that this will destroy itself« (KA 2, 230), and this dictum is, then, at the core of the misconceptions mentioned here: Franza´s conviction would have it that the magical world view leads to self-destruction, a sort of collective suicide, when the people come in contact with Western civilization. And this is precisely where she is wrong: Not even the »Murutes in North Borneo« are headed toward extinction, as Franza maintains, »now that they´ve come in contact with civilization«, and she neglects to mention, in conjunction with »all the races of people introduced to alcohol«, that all over the world the problem of alcoholism was preceded by a ruthless displacement of the indigenous peoples, appropriation of their lands, and destruction of their basic methods and means of subsistence. The example of the cargo cults in Papua-New Guinea illustrates in particular that precisely the opposite of what Franza contends is true: namely, that adherence to the magical world view is not cause for self destruction but may well in fact be the prerequisite to self-preservation. These cults illustrate the very flexibility of the magical world view that obviously enabled the peoples concerned to cope with new situations appropriately. Without a doubt, these cults grew out of »a highly charged emotional situation resulting from the overthrow or questioning of ancient ethical values«, under circumstances, then, in which people still immersed in their traditional lifestyle were confronted by severely altered external conditions in the form of western civilization. The continued existence of the traditional magical world view and the creation of the cargo cults in Papua-New Guinea are, however, to be seen to »express social and moral solidarity and independence«; they must thus be considered attempts at solving the very problems that arise from the colonial situation. Even though colonized peoples all over the world have fallen by the wayside, discarded and disregarded as losers, it was not by any means merely the collision with western culture that lead to self-destruction among these peoples, as Bachmann´s Franza figure claims.
It would be impossible to reconstruct the way Bachmann intended to carry out the work after she had combined the earlier magic motif with the magical world view of colonized peoples or whether she had planned to pursue this complex of ideas at all. The work, in its extant stage of development, by presenting the combination of these two motifs, obviously intends to give an answer to the question of the relationship between individual life history and (collective) world history. It is this very question that Franza poses later in the chronological sequence of events when, in the chapter »Darkness over Egypt«, she asks her brother: »My story and the story of all people; together, they surely comprise the sum of history, but where are the points of intersection between these and the whole of history?« (KA 2, 270) Her search for a similar connection between them leads her to such analogies between the situation of European women and the condition of colonized peoples that have, in many different ways, gone hand in hand with the entire history of colonization. And this is not entirely unwarranted since »the mechanisms for marginalizing both women and ethnic minorities in the construction of the Other are nearly identical in cultural historical dimension«. As early as the sixteenth century J. Ginés de Sepúlveda, an advocate of the conquest and adversary of Bartolemé de Las Casas, had written, following Aristoteles: »In wisdom, skill, virtue and humanity, these people are as inferior to the Spaniards as [...] women to men«, and in the sixties, one of the women´s movement´s slogans screamed: »Women are the world´s negroes and the negroes of collective history«. As many times as these paralles have been drawn, there have been almost as many instances in which the question of differences between them has not been posed.
If the Franza figure´s flawed grasp of the Papuas and the Aborigines was intended by the author, then it can only have been a strategically applied narrative device designed to illustrate how dubitable Franza´s world view is. As the history of its perception demonstrates, this strategy - inasmuch as it indeed was one - has not exactly been self-evident to the readership. But the fact is that the text does provide scattered evidence - above and beyond Franzas Papua-Flaw - indicating such a narrative strategy. Especially in the two more developed chapters of the book, the narrative perspective undergoes a sort of breach even where it appears to coincide with the characters´ perspective. So, for example, consider that the narrator at the beginning of the trip to Egypt ascertains with relief, from Franzas perspective: »The Whites. Finally a place they hadn´t found« (KA 2, 255), only to repeatedly mention, as an aside, that symbol of western civilization, the Coke bottle, that accompanies the siblings to the very end of the journey (KA 2, 257, 276, 280f., 328). In the Zurich Reading version of the text, this is even more apparent where it says: »but then she simply turned toward the men, holding the empty coke bottle in her hand. Europe, then, was at an end, it was all over for a white woman with her habits, taboos, social deformities.« (KA 2, 28) At least as far as the Franza figure is concerned, such references to the fact that the world view demonstrated by characters in the novel is to be regarded with caution surface only in rare exceptions. Another example taken from the more developed chapters that were published during Bachmann´s lifetime - if only on the occasion of public readings - illustrates that in the extant text of the unfinished novel precisely this »special affinity« the narrator has for Franza can be seen as an immature relationship between this narrator and his female protagonist (but, of course, this is not a question of demanding a particular narrative perspective or a particular relationship of the narrator to his characters). The fragmentary novel does not reveal Franza´s source of information on Egypt´s queen Hatschepsut and the history of the New Kingdom; but evidently, even Martin has forgotten what he learned from his reading of Breasted´s History of Egypt (KA 2, 173) in the Egyptian heat because he, like his sister, assumes that the Pharaoh Thutmosis III had his wife Hatschepsut´s insignias removed from the temple. James Henry Breasted and Egon Friedell, Bachmann´s sources for this motif, agree, on the other hand, that Thutmosis III was not only Hatschepsut´s husband, but also her half-brother and they both mention, too, that Hatschepsut´s father and another half-brother participated equally in the »desire to eliminate a great figure« (KA 2, 274). It becomes quite apparent in this context that Franza has no use for a brother who wants to wipe out his sister´s history, if she hopes to compare her situation with that of the Egyptian queen - it would be obvious, that is, if the readers knew enough about the history of ancient Egypt to be able to recognize the manipulation as such. After all, the narrator of the Franza novel does give his figures free reign in the construction of an apparently fitting historical comparison, and it is decisive that Bachmann seems to have considered her work on this motif complete by the fall of 1966 - that is, before she left the novel in its extant stage. The twenty year history of its reception, then, has shown that here, too, the selective perception of the characters has been read as a report of historical facts, and not completely without cause: Franza speaks about the Egyptian pharaohs and the Aborigines in New Guinea as though she knows what she´s talking about, and she is represented in the text as though she´s reporting established historical facts.
But the fact that such mistakes in the Franza figure are rarely identifiable as such is not the only weakness of the novel The Book of Franza; this problematic must be seen in conjunction with the overall concept of the novel in its extant state: on the one hand, the Franza figure is equipped with a degree of moral superiority that seems justified based on her whole situation as the victim of psychic murder; on the other hand, isolated signs clearly indicate an intent to depict the problematic aspects of Franza´s perspective. But the »particular affinity« on the part of the narrator toward Franza far outweighs them, and any occasional qualification of Franza´s perspective is engulfed by the pursuant imbalance. A couple of coke bottles and the narrator´s comment on how Franza´s sun tanned arm »was still white amid the Arabs« (KA 2, 275) are, frankly, rather inadequate in light of the prevailing »diseased perspective of the white woman«. Incidentally, the impact of the 1978 Collected Works version, entitled Der Fall Franza/The Franza Case, in determining the work´s reception is not to be underestimated. It would be the subject of a study in itself to question in detail the degree to which the Collected Works version of the »Jordan Time« chapter has colored our perception and led to the impression of the predominance of Franza´s perspective. The middle chapter as it exists in this version consists almost exclusively of drafts written from Franza´s point of view and, for the most part, in the first person-narrative - a concentrated compendium of complaints so well-formulated and impressive that they have been quoted again and again. The only thing missing is the critical or perhaps merely ironic distance on the part of the narrator which does, after all, resonate occasionally in the two remaining chapters.
Even if only the most recent versions of each chapter are considered most valid, it is precisely the narrator´s relationship to Franza that appears underdeveloped. One might go so far as to say that the narrator repeatedly evades that very responsibility that he almost flaunts at one point in the opening passages of the novel and later demonstrates at various points throughout in the form of mere ironic distance. When, in the tunnel passage in the first chapter, the authorial narrator says that »the tangible facts that make up our world - they need the intangible as a vantage point from which to be seen« (KA 2, 134), when a narrative authority confronts its figures with facts (even if they are little more than coke bottles), then the same narrator or narrative authority cannot do what the characters are, of course, free to do: namely, to first manipulate the »tangible facts« so that they subsequently fit the intangible better. And this is, on closer examination, precisely what is happening in the cases of the inconsistencies outlined here when, for example, Franza places herself on a par with other victims of colonization: There was no violent force involved in the colonial relationship of the Jordanian marriage that could even begin to resemble real incidences of genocide. Consequently, acts of genocide become acts of mass suicide in Franza´s portrayal, a collective self-destruction of the victims, and, just as she only mentions that aspect of the Egyptian history of the New Kingdom that appears fitting for comparison with the Jordanian marriage, in comparing her own situation to that of colonized peoples she eliminates the force factor that hardly lends itself to comparison. The narrator hides behind his character and gives her free reign, and the novel as it was left by the author does not hint at any intention of clarifying these inconsistencies.
The sweeping generalization that the narrator demonstrates a »particular affinity for Franza« appears rather undifferentiated in light of the fact that this very relationship between the narrator and his character was still the focus of the process of shaping the work until the very end. A look at this creative process is intended here to draw attention to this problem - one that should be considered more carefully in future scholarship on the subject. In the final extant version of the novel, Franza´s mistakes may not have been corrected, but the most recent version of the »Jordan Time« chapter does provide one index that points to a qualification of Franza´s perspective in a more general sense. Obviously, the author´s intent is not to allow Franza to speak as extensively in this late stage of work as before. The draft about the Papuas created in this last period of work was, after all, not intended to be the conclusion of the chapter as it is presented in the Collected Works version; it stands, rather, in a larger context, more toward the beginning of the chapter. In the images of the gas chamber dream, the cemetery of the murdered daughters and the Papua analogy, Franza certainly unfolds the three major themes of fascism, patriarchy and colonialism successively, but, obviously, the narrator was slated to resume his reign after this explosive introduction with its confluence of motifs (KA 2, 232ff.). And this narrator´s presence is sometimes as ironic as it is in the first chapter, where he reports that occupation and rape became sought-after idols for the fifteen-year-old Franza when the war came to an end - all, of course, as the result of a basic misunderstanding: no one ever bothered to tell her what either of them meant (KA 2, 176). Similarly, in the most recent version of the »Jordan Time« chapter, Franza´s plans to become a doctor later and travel to »Africa or Asia« are founded on a rather naive motivation: »So, for a while [...] she always took sides with the negroes or the flood victims or people subject to policies of encirclement who, incidentally, had no skin color« (KA 2, 233f.). While it is doubtful that Franza´s dubious reconstructions of history could have been cushioned by the narrator´s ironic attitude, this is nonetheless a general indicator that Bachmann worked on qualifying her characters´ perspective.
But Bachmann also continued to develop the narrator´s affinity for Franza through the last phase of work, establishing the overall impression that the creative process was an ambivalent vacillation between these two poles and for that very reason necessarily leading to the inconsistencies mentioned above. Several observations about this last phase of work illustrate this peculiar phenomenon. In the famous tunnel passage at the beginning of the first chapter, a revealing change was made in the final corrections, which could seem to indicate that Bachmann had intended to devote more attention to the narrator at this point, shortly before the March 1966 reading. In the sentence »nun kann der Zug genau so gut fahren« (»the train may just as well travel«), the modal adverb »genau so gut« is replaced by the causal adverb »unserthalben« (»nun kann der Zug unserthalben fahren« / »as far as we´re concerned, the train can travel«) (KA 2, 134). At first glance, this formulation is reminiscent merely of what Bachmann terms the »old masters of the novel and the narrative« (KA 1, 398) in the later Goldmann/Rottwitz novel, not of a twentieth century author. Seen in the context of the time in which it was created, this classic authorial plural »unserthalben« could, however, be considered a signal for the »inner plural« of the narrative figure that such authors as Hubert Fichte and Max Frisch were experimenting with in the sixties and later, Günter Grass in the seventies. Bachmann herself, after suspending her work on The Book of Franza, also sought such a pluralistic solution to the narrative question in her novel, Malina, where she applies the male/female doppelgänger constellation of I/Malina, and it is not entirely unthinkable that this problem perhaps resonates already in the last level of corrections made to the tunnel passage. But when Bachmann presented this first segment of the chapter »Return Home to Galicia« at the March 22, 1966 reading in Hamburg, she left out the hand-written »unserthalben« after a brief pause for thought. Thus, the »inner plural« form of the narrative that had just been introduced explicitly - inasmuch as it was conceived as such - was again eliminated at the time of the lecture. Further substantiation for such a renewed change in direction that is intimated here seems to exist in the most recent version of the »Jordan Time« chapter, completed after the March reading, when the narrator´s affinity for Franza is put in no uncertain terms. Alluding to the narrative excursion about the train traveling through the Semmering-Tunnel (KA 2, 134) - an image that stands for the process of enlightening discovery as well as for imagination and writing - Franza, too, speaks of her dream in terms of »driving through the tunnel at night« (KA 2, 230). What is more, she more or less becomes part of the process of portrayal when, in the beginning of the chapter, she says »there is something that manifests itself in me, I can see now how you could stage it« (KA 2, 228). What follows is Franza´s introductory monologue in which she is so mistaken on the subject of colonialism, as the examples outlined above demonstrate. Overall, the qualification of Franza´s dubious perspective takes on so little shape that the relationship of the narrator to his female protagonist resembles - to cite Stanzel - a »kind of unsurmounted mediacy of presentation« - a phenomenon which, in the case of the Franza novel, may indeed be attributed to the fact that the novel was left in unfinished form.
But every analysis must ultimately settle on this very question of whether Euro-centric thinking was not only reproduced, but represented as such - for example, when Franza´s less than accurate reports on the stations of colonial history are taken as manifestations of her normal white consciousness. In conclusion, in the light of the colonialism motif, I would like to provide some insights into the type of questions that might be posed when examining the Franza novel against this backdrop. According to Todorov´s study, The Question of the Other, there are two basic positions, »two elementary figures of the experience of alterity« that were already apparent when the Europeans made their first contact with inhabitants of the New World and are still visible today: The others are either considered equal, whereby equal is confused with identical, which leads to a »projection of [ones] own values onto the others«; or they are considered different but this difference is »immediately translated into terms of superiority and inferiority«. Oddly enough, in Franza´s statements as recorded in the final version of the »Jordan Time« chapter, both of these things happen, namely because Franza, being a woman, sees herself cast in the role of someone who is not participant in the white system and consequently allies herself with the others. Franza first contends that in each of the cases cited - from the Incas to the modern aborigines in Borneo - it was the very fact of contact with western civilization that had fatal consequences for each of these indigenous populations. Thus, she reduces the historical phenomenon of genocide to a pyschological problem among the conquered peoples and, in so doing, has established an appropriate analogy to her own situation in which the murder was not a physical one as well. From this perspective, the foreign populations she compares herself with are »immediately assimilated, imbibed with the color of the personal self«. The »Other is re-modeled, monopolized, re-formed until the Self can recognize itself in the Other, until the Self seems similar to the Other.«  She draws the others - the Aborigines, the Incas, and the Papuas - over to her side, placing them beside herself, blending out whatever doesn´t fit her own view and shaping the others to suit her own person. But Franza does not understand this process as such; on the contrary, she sees herself situated on the side of the Others and, from this position, she reproduces the hierarchical relationship of inferiorty and superiority that corresponds to the attributes of difference present in Todorov´s second figure of alterity. In the tradition of Simone de Beauvoir, Franza conceives of herself as »the second sex«, the Other who »aligns herself with the dominant culture only insomuch as she is herself the social outcast or marginal figure«. The logical consequence of this way of thinking is the »implementing of prevailing principles from the subjugated position«.
For decades, Bachmann scholarship has indiscriminately accepted the title character´s victim status, thereby confirming, for its part, the status as such. Without a doubt, this position is anchored in the text, too. Today, though, we must ask ourselves whether the Franza novel goes beyond the point of reproducing the world view of a white woman who stylizes herself as victim and aligns herself with the other victims of the western system of domination and control. The implications of this victim stance that have been discussed in feminist theory in recent years - namely self-infantilization and self-degradation of those who see themselves exclusively in the role of victim - are undoubtedly present in the Franza novel, too. The question, however, is whether or not Bachmann herself already saw this in the sixties. Particularly in conjunction with the relationship between personal history and world history so central to the context of the Todesarten-project, today´s answer to the question would have to take into account the fact that Franza attempts to extricate herself from history and thus relieve herself of any responsiblity by situating herself on the side of the victims. The »label of difference« to which Franza lays claim can, in general, also be seen as »a license that the person labeled or labeling herself as such uses to free itself from social responsibility«. More specifically, ascertaining whether or not the Franza novel accomplishes anything beyond simply confirming Franza's world view is paramount in this regard. These are the types of questions that Bachmann research will need to pose in the future - particularly, though not exclusively, in the case of the fragmentary novel The Book of Franza; the question of whether the Franza novel goes beyond simple reproduction of the phenomena cited here will determine, in the future, the manner in which Bachmann´s work can be re-read in the context of its time. In order for this to occur, however, we will inevitably have to detach ourselves from the »particular affinity for Franza« that a large number of researchers have been caught up in until now.
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