Aichinger, Ilse (1921—)

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Aichinger, Ilse (1921—)

Austrian short-story and fiction writer. Born in Vienna, Austria, in 1921; studied medicine for two years; married Günter Eich (a poet), in 1953 (died); lives in Bayrisch Gmain, Upper Bavaria.

Selected works:

The Greater Hope (1948); Speech Beneath the Gallows (1952); Der Gefesselte (The Bound Man, 1953); Knöpfe (Buttons, 1953); Zu keiner Stunde (At No Hour, 1957); Besuch im Pfarrhaus (Visit at the Parsonage, 1961); Wo ich wohne (Where I Live, 1963); Eliza, Eliza (1965); My Language and I (1968); Auckland (1969); Nachricht vom Tag (News of the Day, 1970); Dialoge, Erzählungen, Gedichte (Dialogues, Stories, Poems, 1970); Advice Freely Given (1978).

Ilse Aichinger was born in Vienna to a Jewish mother and an "Aryan" father who divorced by the time Aichinger was five. Her life changed radically in March 1938 with the Anschluss, the annexation of Austria by Nazi Germany. Despite her parents' divorce, Aichinger's father sheltered his daughter and ex-wife when they were threatened with deportation. Aichinger was required, however, to do forced service in Austria until the end of the war. As a result, she matriculated late at the University of Vienna, where she began medical studies. Shortly thereafter, Aichinger left school to work as a reader for a publisher, who later represented her work. In 1947, critic Hans Werner Richter invited a group of mostly young German writers to meet. Aichinger, now a novelist and poet, was included. Richter challenged these writers, dubbed Gruppe 47 (Group of '47), to define a new, post-Nazi literary voice. They met twice annually and supported one another's work. Since Aichinger's novella, Speech Beneath the Gallows, won the Gruppe 47 prize in 1952, she has received countless other literary awards. Aichinger married writer Günter Eich in 1953.


Aldridge, J.C. Ilse Aichinger. Chester Springs, PA: Dufour Editions, 1969.

Crista Martin , Boston, Massachusetts