Ilse Aichinger was born to a Jewish mother in Vienna in 1921. Prior to 1938 her Aunt Klara waited for the family in London, but only Ilse’s twin sister, Helga, escaped on the last Kindertransport. Ilse remained. She survived, and published The Greater Hope in 1948. The novel reflects Ilse Aichinger’s experience of anti-Semitism as young woman in Nazi Austria, and through her extraordinary use of language the author not only captures the horror and the humanity of that experience, but transcends it to offer a profound meditation on a greater hope, the metaphysical perspectives of which surpass the physical trajectories of devastation, deportation and death. Many authors have endeavoured to determine the sense and meaning of Aichinger’s works, which are often considered complex and multi-layered. This may explain why one of Austria’s most gifted authors has not yet received the international recognition she deserves. The Nachwort to this new translation casts fresh light on The Greater Hope through an original and in-depth analysis of interviews given by Aichinger throughout her life.
The translator Geoff Wilkes is a Senior Lecturer in German Studies at the University of Queensland in Brisbane, Australia. His previous translations include Irmgard Keun’s Gilgi, One of Us and some short pieces by Hans Fallada.
The editor Gail Wiltshire has conducted extensive original research on the contribution of Ilse Aichinger and is the author of the recently published study – “A Spatial Reading of Ilse Aichinger’s novel “Die größere Hoffnung”.