Mayröcker, Friedericke 1924-
MAYRÖCKER, Friedericke 1924-
PERSONAL: Surname listed in some sources as Mayroecker; born December 20, 1924, in Vienna, Austria. Education: Attended business school.
ADDRESSES: Home—Vienna, Austria. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Suhrkamp Verlag, Lindenstrasse 29-35, 60325 Frankfurt am Main, Germany.
CAREER: Poetry, playwright, novelist, and children's book author. Taught English in public schools in Vienna, 1946-97; freelance writer, 1969—.
MEMBER: Grazer Autorenversammlung, German Academy of Arts, Academy of Language and Literature.
AWARDS, HONORS: Theodor Körner Stiflungsvonds Förderungspreis, 1963; Ludwig von Ficker Gedächtnispreis, 1964; Hörspielpreis de Bundes der Kriegsblinden Deustschlands (with Ernst Jandle), 1968; Würdigungspreis des Bundesministeriums, 1973; Austrian State prize, 1976, 1987; Georg Trakl prize, 1977; Anton Wilgans prize, 1981; Greater Austrian State prize, 1982; Roswitha von Gandersheim prize, 1982; Südwestfunk prize, 1985; Hans Erich Nossack prize, 1989; Forum Stadtpark des Landes Steiermark manuscript prize, 1993; Friedrich Höderlinpreis, 1993; Bayerischen Akademie der Künste prize, 1996; Else Lasker-Schüer prize, 1996; Meersburger Drostepreis, 1997; George Buechner award, 2001.
Larifari: ein konfuses Buch, Bergland (Vienna, Austria), 1956.
Metaphorisch, Walther (Stuttgart, Germany), 1964.
Texte, Allerheiligenpresse (Innsbruck, Austria), 1966.
Tod durch Musen: Poetische Texte (title means "Death by the Muses"), Rowohlt (Reinbek, Germany), 1966.
Sägespäne für mein Herzbluten: 39 Gedichte, Rainer (Berlin, Germany), 1967, revised as Sägespäne für mein Herzbluten und andere Gedichte, 1973.
Minimonsters Traumlexikon: Texte in Prosa, Rowohlt (Reinbek, Germany), 1968.
Fantom Fan, Rowohlt (Reinbek, Germany), 1971.
(With Ernst Jandle) Fünf Mann Menschen (radio play; title means "Five Man Men"), Luchterhand (Darmstadt, Germany), 1971.
Sinclair Sofokles, der Baby-Saurier, Jugend und Volk (Vienna, Austria), 1971, translation by Renate Moore and Linda Hayward published as Sinclair Sophocles, the Baby Dinosaur, Random House (New York, NY), 1974.
Arie auf tönernen Füszen: Metaphysisches Theater (title means "Aria on Feet of Clay"), Luchterhand (Darmstadt, Germany), 1972.
Blaue Erleuchtungen: Erste Gedichte, Eremiten-Presse (Düsseldorf, Germany), 1973, reprinted, 1995, translation by Lesley Lendrum published as In the Blue Mountain Evening, illustrated by Heather Deenman, Morning Star (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1996.
Je ein umwölkter Gipfel: Erzählung, Luchterhand (Darmstadt, Germany), 1973, translation by Rosmarie Waldrop and Harriette Watts published as With Each Clouded Peak, Sun and Moon Press (Los Angeles, CA), 1998.
In langsamen Blitzen, Literarisches Colloquium (Berlin, Germany), 1974.
Augen wie Schaljapin bevor er starb, Vorarlberger Verlagsanstalt (Dornbirn, Austria), 1974.
Meine Träme, ein Flügelkleid, Fremiten-Presse (Düsseldorf, Germany), 1974.
Schriftungen oder Gerüchte aus dem Jenseits, Pfaffenweiler Presse (Pfaffenweiler, Germany), 1975.
(Author of text) Graphik: Monographie mit einem Werkverzeichnis der Druckgraphik, edited by Otto Breicha, Jugend und Volk (Vienna, Austria), 1975.
Das Licht in der Landschaft (title means "The Light in the Landscape"), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1975, reprinted, 1994.
(With Ernst Jandle) Drei Hörspiele, Sessler (Vienna, Austria), 1975.
Fast ein Frühling des Markus M., Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1976.
Rot ist unten, Jugend und Volk (Vienna, Austria), 1977.
Heisze Hunde, Pfaffenweiler Presse (Pfaffenweiler, Germany), 1977.
Heiligenanstalt (title means "Saint's Asylum"), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1978, translated by Rosmarie Waldrop, Morning Star (Edinburgh, Scotland), 1992.
Lütt'koch, Herbstpresse (Vienna, Austria), 1978.
Schwarmgesang: Szenen für die poetische Bühne (radio plays; title means "Swarm Song"), Rainer (Berlin, Germany), 1978.
Tochter der Bahn, published with Der Ureinwohner, by Klaus Rinke, Premiten-Presse (Düsseldorf, Germany), 1979.
Ausgewählte Gedichte 1944-1978, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1979.
Friederike Mayröcker: ein Lesebuch, edited by Gisela Lindemann, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1979.
Pick mich auf mein Flügel (audiobook), Ohrbuck (Vienna, Germany), 1980.
(With Angelika Kaufmann) Pegas, das Pferd, Neugebauer (Salzburg, Austria), 1980, translation published as Pegas, the Horse, Neugebauer (London, England), 1982.
Die Abschiede (title means "The Farewells"), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1980.
Schwarze Romanzen: Ein Gedichtzyklus, Pfaffenweiler Presse (Pfaffenweiler, Germany), 1981.
(With Johann Kräftner) Treppen, Niederösterreichisches Pressehaus, 1981.
Bocca della Verita (radio play), Grasl (Baden, Germany), 1981.
Ich, der Rabe und der Mond: Ein Kinderbuch zum Lesen und Weiterzeichnen, Droschl (Graz, Austria), 1982.
Gute Nacht, guten Morgen: Gedichte 1978-1981, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1982.
Magische Blätter (also see below), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1983.
Im Nervensaal, Himmel am zwölften Mai, Herbstpresse (Vienna, Austria), 1983.
Das Anheben der Arme bei Feuersglut, edited by Heinz F. Schafroth, Reclam (Stuttgart, Germany), 1984.
Kockodan Samota, Odeon (Prague, Czechoslovakia), 1984.
Reise durch die Nacht, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1984, translation by Beth Bjorklund published as Night Train, Ariadne Press (Riverside, CA), 1992.
Rosengarten, Pfaffenweiler Presse (Pfaffenweiler, Germany), 1984.
(With Hubert Aratym) Configurationen, Sonderzahl (Vienna, Austria), 1985.
Das Herzzerreissende der Dinge, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1985.
Das Jahr Schnee, Volk & Welt (Berlin, Germany), 1985.
(With Bodo Hell) Der Donner des Stillhaltens/Larven, Schemen, Phantome, Droschl (Graz, Austria), 1986.
Winterglück, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1986.
Blauer Streusand, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1987.
Magische Blätter II (also see below), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1987.
Mein Herz, mein Zimmer, mein Name (title means "My Heart, My Room, My Name"), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1988.
Jericho, Herbstpresse (Vienna, Austria), 1989.
Zittergaul: Gedichte, Otto Maier, Ravensburg, Austria), 1989.
Mein Träme, ein Flügelkleid, Eremitenpresse (Düsseldorf), 1989.
Materialien zum Wer Arno Schmidts (criticism), Text & kritik (Munich, German), 1989.
Umbra: der Schatten: das ungewisse Garten-Werk, illustrations by Linde Waber, Hora (Vienna, Austria), 1990.
Entfachung, D. Scherr (Vienna, Austria), 1990.
Stilleben, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main), 1991.
(With Ingrid Wald) Wald wiesen und anderes, Freibord (Vienna, Austria), 1991.
Magische Blätter III (also see below), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1991.
Kinder Ka-Laender (juvenile), illustrated by Gerhard Jaschke, Freibord (Vienna, Austria), 1991.
ABC-thriller, Freibord (Vienna, Austria), 1992.
Das besessene Alter: Gedichte, 1986-1991, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1992.
(With Tone Fink) Verfaulbett oder die Almlunge, Thurnhof (Horn, Iceland), 1992.
(With Bodo Hell) Gang durchs Dorf: Fingerzeig, Bibliothek der Provinz, 1992.
Als es ist: Texte zur Kunst, Landessammlungen Rupertinum (Salzburg, Austria), 1992.
Phobie de Wäsche, Fundamental (Cologne, Germany), 1992.
Beblumen: (ein) mein Lieblingstod, Bibliothek der Provinz, 1992.
Blumenwerk: lädliches Journal/Deinzendorf, Bibliothek der Provinz, 1992.
Veritas: Lyrik und Prosa, 1950-1992, Reclam (Leipzig, Germany), 1993.
(With Daniela Riess-Beger) Lebensveranstaltung: Erfindungen, Findungen, einer Sprache, Dokumentationsstelle für neue österreichische literature (Vienna, Austria), 1994.
Lection, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1994.
(With Silvia Kummer) Feuerstein ungerieben, Flutlicht (Vienna, Austria), 1995.
Den fliegenschrank aufegebrochen: bildgedichte, Kleinheinrich (Munster, Germany), 1995.
(And illustrator) Kabinett Notizen, nach James Joyce: Für Linde Waber, Thurnhof (Horn, Iceland), 1995.
Für H.C., Passagen (Vienna, Austria), 1996.
Notizen auf einem Kamel: Gedichte 1991-1996, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1996.
Das zu Sehende, das zu Hörende (radio play), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1997.
Gala des Messer auf einer Bettdecke, Wiener Bibliophilen-Gesellschaft (Vienna, Austria), 1997.
Brütt, oder, Die seufzenden Gärten, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1998.
Benachbarte Metalle: Ausgewählte Gedichte, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1998.
Magische Blätter V (also see below), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1999.
(Author of text) Blättersitten: Fotos/Text, photographs by Manfred Gruber, Haymon (Innsbruck, Austria), 1999.
Requieum für Ernst Jandl, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 2001.
Peck Me Up, My Wing: Selections from the Work of Friederike Mayröcker (bilingual German and English), translated by Mary Burns, Smokeproof Press (Boulder, CO), 2000.
Gesammelte Prosa, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 2001.
Magische Blätter I-V, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 2001.
Contributor to books, including Ein Gedichte und sein Autor, edited by Walter Höllerer, Literarisches Colloquium, 1967; Neues Hörspiel, edited by Klaus Schöning, Suhrkamp, 1970, Holzschnitte zu Hermann Hesse Siddhartha, by Anton Watzl, Tusch, 1981; Visuelle Dialogue zum Verhältnis von Weiblichtkeit und Kunst, Orlanda Frauenverlag, 1992; and Spectaculum 53: Sechs moderne Theaterstücke, Suhrkamp, 1992. Contributor to periodicals, including Frankfurter Allemagneine Zeitung, and protokolle.
Author's works have been translated into several languages, including Dutch and Spanish.
ADAPTATIONS: Many of Mayröcker's poems have been set to music. Brütt, oder, Die seufzenden Gärten was adapted as an audiobook, DerHör (Munich, Germany), 1998; translations of Mayröcker's poems by Margitt Lehbert have appeared in Poetry.
SIDELIGHTS: A prolific writer of both prose and poetry, Friederike Mayröcker is noted for her lack of concern with plot and character development in favor of a self-reflexive style absorbed with language and the creative process. Although Mayröcker's work is considered difficult, she gained prominence with 1980's Die Abschiede and has since garnered many awards in her native Austria. Mayröcker has collaborated with a number of writers, among them poet Ernst Jandle, a fellow member of the avant-garde Wiener Gruppe of the 1950s with whom she worked between 1954 and his death in 2000. Considered one of Austria's most noted authors, Mayröcker continues to draw critical praise for her focus on the means by which one maintains a unique identity within a society that has become dehumanized by technology and a pervasive popular culture that values materialism over creative substance. In reviewing the literary retrospective Veritas: Lyrik und Prosa, 1950-1992 for World Literature Today, Rita Terras described reading a work by Mayröcker as entering "the world of a well-traveled, well-read, and well-informed modern intellectual." Discussing the overarching qualities the volume reveals, Beth Bjorklund added in her own review in the same journal that in Veritas, as in most of the author's work, "the 'problem of living,' cast as the problem of writing—i.e., creating a language commensurate with experience—is central."
Born in 1924, Mayröcker began writing at an early age. After college she taught English at a secondary school in Vienna before beginning her writing career in 1969. In addition to poetry and prose, she has authored a number of radio plays broadcast in her native Austria, among them Fünf Mann Menschen and Schwarmgesang, which, according to Robert Acker in the Encyclopedia of World Literature, "contain no recognizable plots or protagonists but instead explore the possibilities of acoustic and linguistic montage." She has also penned several children's books, including Sinclair Sophocles, the Baby Dinosaur, which a Publishers Weekly contributor praised as "a rich blend of comedy and wistfulness."
As Beth Bjorklund explained in an essay for the Dictionary of Literary Biography, Mayröcker's is an experimental writing that creates a "timeless amalgam" wherein "reality is portrayed as discontinuous, nonchronological, and open-ended. Her writing creates reality rather than reproducing it, and language is both its medium and its content. Traditional metaphorical use of language gives way to innovative techniques, including montage, evocation, assemblage, permutation, dislocation, word chains, phrasal leitmotifs, juxtaposition, and repetition. The result is a network of associations in which all features of language—not only semantic meaning but also sounds, rhythms, and syntax—function as metaphor."
While Mayröcker's early work, such as that included in 1966's Tod durch Musen, was lyrical, by the early 1970s she had gained prominence as a unique and idiosyncratic writer. Her 1973 work Je ein umwölkter Gipfel is comprised of fragments of dialogue which relate her experiences on a visit to the United States, while 1980's Die Abschiede focuses on the end of a romantic relationship and the related images of "closure: evening, autumn, departure, desolation, decay, and death," according to Bjorklund. Becoming increasingly more accessible into the 1980s, books by Mayröcker such as Reise durch die Nacht weave together the author's familiar obsession with self and such themes as death, continuity, and the purpose of her life into a literary journey that World Literature Today contributor Robert Acker described as "accessible to the average reader." Noting that Reise durch die Nacht is, together with Das Herzzerreissende der Dinge part of an autobiographical trilogy, Times Literary Supplement contributor Jeremy Adler described the work as a "phastasmagoria of consciousness" comprised of dreams and "surreal transformations" that "testify to Mayröcker's most frequently quoted maxim: 'I have always avoided telling a story, that is, I can't see a story anywhere.'"
Among Mayröcker's works to be translated into English is Heiligenanstalt, first published in 1978 and translated by poet Rosmarie Waldrop in 1992. Containing fictional biographies of composers Bruckner, Chopin, Schumann, and Schubert, the work is an effort to "liberate" the life histories of these composers from their own time and "concentrate it upon [Mayröcker] . . . within the setting of her own world," according to World Literature Today contributor W. V. Blomster. While Blomster found the author's effort unsuccessful, in his appraisal of the English-language translation of Heiligenanstalt for the Review of Contemporary Fiction, Dennis Barone noted that in translator Rosmarie Waldrop's hands "the prose dances like fingerwork on keys."
The prose work Mein Herz, mein Zimmer, mein Name reflects what Bjorklund termed Mayröcker's "autobiographical tendency. . . . The theme of writing is central, as the author comments on the very text that is being written. The self-portrayal deals mainly with feelings about personal relationships and with the fear that time to pursue her 'obsession' (writing) is running out." Composed of a single sentence of dialogue directed at a woman named Rosa, the book at first appears to be what World Literature Today contributor Robert Acker described as "a wild jumble of words and ideas," although on closer examination Mayröcker employs structure by repeating certain phrases. Acker wrote that Mein Herz, mein Zimmer, mein Name is a search for self-meaning, noting that the text carries within it "a sense of a restless and breathless writing activity which obviously is absolutely essential for [Mayröcker] . . . to maintain her profession and to search for her own identity."
In addition to her booklength works, Mayröcker has also contributed essays and other writings to a number of journals, anthologies, and books issued by small presses in Austria, Germany, and elsewhere. Her major publisher, Suhrkamp, has issued several collections of these writings as Magische Blätter, the first published in 1983. Of the third volume in the series, Beth Bjorklund commented in World Literature Today that "many readers will recognize familiar themes and forms, as elements from imagination, memory, dream, thought, and emotion are brought together in an associative amalgam." Noting the importance of visual imagery and art that runs through the collected writings, Bjorklund added that these visuals are transformed from images into words, as Mayröcker characteristically "makes literature out of the raw materials of her life."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Daviau, Donald G., editor, Major Figures of Contemporary Austrian Literature, P. Lang (New York, NY), 1987, pp. 313-336.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 85: Austrian Fiction Writers after 1914, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1988, pp. 247-251.
Encyclopedia of World Literature in the Twentieth Century, St. James Press (Detroit, MI), 1999. Schmidt, Siegfried J., editor, Friederike Mayröcker, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1984.
Bulletin of the Center for Children's Books, September, 1974, review of Sinclair Sophocles, the Baby Dinosaur, p. 13.
Kirkus Reviews, April 15, 1974, review of Sinclair Sophocles, the Baby Dinosaur, pp. 419-420.
Library Journal, September 15, 1974, Patricia Kurtz Bock, review of Sinclair Sophocles, the Baby Dinosaur, p. 2252.
Literatur und Kritik, number 142, 1980, pp. 106-110; numbers 165-166, 1982, pp. 73-78.
Poesis, Volume 5, 1984, pp. 48-67.
Publishers Weekly, February 25, 1974, review of Sinclair Sophocles, the Baby Dinosaur, p. 114.
Review of Contemporary Fiction, summer, 1995, Dennis Barone, review of Heiligenanstalt, p. 214.
Times Literary Supplement, January 14, 1972, review of Fantom Fan, p. 32; July 23, 1982, review of Pegas, the Horse, p. 792; July 4, 1986, Jeremy Adler, "From the Habitat of Knowledge," p. 738.
Wilson Library Bulletin, September, 1982, review of Pegas, the Horse, p. 59.
World Literature Today, summer, 1977, M. Goth, review of Fast ein Früling des Markus M., p. 443; autumn, 1978, M. Goth, review of Rot ist Unten, pp. 628-629; spring, 1979, W. V. Blomster, review of Heiligenanstalt, p. 291; autumn, 1981, pp. 597-602; spring, 1983, Beth Bjorklund, review of Gute Nacht, guten Morgen, pp. 280-281; winter, 1986, R. Acker, review of Reise durch die Nacht, p. 106; autumn, 1987, Jerry Glenn, review of Winterglück, p. 622; winter, 1990, R. Acker, review of Mein Herz, mein Zimmer, mein Name, p. 109; spring, 1992, J. Glenn, review of Stilleben, p. 341; autumn, 1992, B. Bjorklund, review of Magische Blätter III, pp. 718-719; autumn, 1993, B. Bjorklund, review of Das besessene Alter, p. 816; summer, 1994, Rita Terras, review of Veritas, p. 562; summer, 1997, R. Terras, review of Notizen auf Einem Kamel, p. 583; winter, 1999, B. Bjorklund, review of Das zu Sehende, das zu Hörende, p. 141; winter, 2000, Susan Cocalis, review of Brütt, oder, Die Seufzenden Garten, p. 141; summer-autumn, 2001, Francis Michael Sharp, review of Requiem für Ernst Jandl, p. 188.*