• Lecture
IFK & IFK@Zoom

Translating the Archive, Translating the Life


How does a biographer utilize a writer’s archive when the writer dies unexpectedly and without having organized the archive ahead of time? What is the archive and where does it exist? This lecture will discuss the challenges and rewards of translating archival materials into a biography of the Austrian writer Ingeborg Bachmann.

What is a writer’s archive and where does it exist? In manuscripts? Published works? Letters? Physical sites? Photographs? Official documents? Interviews? Such questions confront any biographer who relies on an archive, but they are especially prevalent in the case of Ingeborg Bachmann (1926–1973), who died tragically from the consequences of a fire in her Rome apartment at age 47, which meant she never had the chance to arrange or organize her own archive. Drawing as well on the experience in having written a biography of H.G. Adler (1910–1988), whose archive was highly organized by the writer before his death, Peter Filkins will reflect on potential rewards and pitfalls in the responsible use of archival materials, as well as the need and means by which to »translate« a writer’s archive into a »life« that encompasses both the writer’s work and the personal experience and broader history that gave birth to it.


Peter Filkins is the Richard B. Fisher Professor of Literature at Bard College at Simon’s Rock in Great Barrington, MA. He is the American translator of Ingeborg Bachmann’s collected poems, Darkness Spoken and two of her novels, The Book of Franza and Requiem for Fanny Goldmann. He has also translated three novels by H.G. Adler and published a biography, H.G. Adler: A Life in Many Worlds. Currently he is Fulbright/IFK_Senior Fellow.



To participate via Zoom you need to register for the meeting with your name and email address. To register, please click >>HERE<<. The zoom link will be sent to you by e-mail immediately afterwards.

To participate in person, we kindly ask you to register via email to registration@ifk.ac.at. The number of seats is limited due to available space. 

Weitere Informationen zu Peter Filkins

Ort: IFK & IFK@Zoom