cover image Three Paths to the Lake

Three Paths to the Lake

Ingeborg Bachmann. Holmes & Meier Publishers, $29.95 (212pp) ISBN 978-0-8419-1070-6

Prize-winning Austrian-born Bachmann ( Malina ; The Thirtieth Year ) has influenced such writers as Max Frisch, Peter Handke, Christa Wolf and Gunter Grass; she died in 1973. Translated into English from the German for the first time, each of the five stories that make up this complex, finely wrought collection is a portrait of an Austrian woman in the late 1960s. Bachman's women are either fiercely independent, as Nadja, the well-traveled translator in ``Word for Word,'' Elisabeth, the successful photographer in the introspective ``Three Paths to the Lake,'' and Beatrix, the young woman who lives only to sleep and visit the beauty parlor in ``Problems Problems''; or they're neurotically tied to their men, as Franziska, who fears her emotionally sadistic husband in ``The Barking.'' Bachmann's central theme is the power of language to transform women's experience in a patriarchal society; the work is not only intellectually charged, but imaginative and evocative as well. Clearly influenced by Robert Musil, this powerful book could well become a classic. (Nov.)