Ingeborg Bachmann: The Radio Family

translated by Mike Mitchell, with an Afterword by Joseph McVeigh

The Radio Family was a radio soap opera that was broadcast in the American sector of occupied Vienna in the 1950s. Presumably conceived as a contribution to the re-education of the population after the defeat of the Nazis, the programmes focused on the Florianis, an ‘ordinary’ middle-class Viennese family, ‘eavesdropping’ on them in their everyday life. Ingeborg Bachmann was at the beginning of her writing career when she became a member of the script team of three in 1951. The fifteen scripts she contributed were thought lost until they turned up in the literary estate of one of the other writers, Jörg Mauthe, in the 90s. They provide a fascinating and often amusing picture of the way Austria saw itself—or, perhaps, wanted to see itself—in the early 50s. At this period Bachmann was establishing herself as a major German poet, but she also wrote radio plays. The episodes she contributed to The Radio Family, especially her portrayal of an average family, extend our knowledge of her development at an important formative stage.

German original published by Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, under the title Die Radiofamilie in 2011.