Wallstein Verlag

Christine Lavant

Notes from the Asylum

Edited and with an epilogue by Klaus Amann

140 pages, 12 x 20
ISBN: 978-3-8353-1967-7 (2016)


German Version

Christine Lavant attempts to process her stay on a psychiatric ward in writing: a literary report that gets right under the reader’s skin.

At the age of twenty, after attempting to commit suicide by taking an overdose of medication, Christine Lavant spent six weeks in the »Federal State Asylum« in Klagenfurt. Eleven years later, in the autumn of 1946, she wrote about the experiences she had with the patients, nurses and doctors in the psychiatric institution. Above all, however, her report focuses on her self-perception, the state of her own consciousness and subconsciousness in this existential situation. With exaggerated precision and extreme intensity, the authoress conveys a picture of specific situations and everyday life in the clinic – the treatments, the implicit violence. Everything is imbued with apocalyptic fantasies.
At the beginning of the 1950s, Christine Lavant planned to publish the text with her then publisher. However, the authoress was finally unable to make up her mind to go ahead with the undertaking: the publisher was evidently full of enthusiasm, but he demanded a »devout ending«. During her lifetime, the text was never published in German. Only an English translation was broadcast as a radio story by the BBC in 1959. The fact that the German text still exists is owed to the translator Nora Wydenbruck, in whose estate it was found in the mid-1990s. It was published for the first time in 2001, and is now available in a newly edited version.

Christine Lavant (1915 –1973), born in St. Stefan in Lavanttal (Carinthia) as the ninth child of a miner, was a lyricist and narrator. She finished her school education early due to bad health. For decades, she supported the family by knitting. She was awarded the Georg-Trakl Prize (1954 and 1964) and the Grand Austrian State Prize (1970). Since 2014, Wallstein has published an edition of Christine Lavant’s work.
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