The playwright and novelist Thomas Bernhard was one of the most widely translated and admired writers of his generation, winner of the three most coveted literary prizes in Germany. one of his earliest novels, is a singular, surreal study of the nature of humanity.One morning a doctor and his son set out on daily rounds through the grim mountainous Austrian countryside. They observe the colorful characters they encounter — from an innkeeper whose wife has been murdered to a crippled musical prodigy kept in a cage — coping with physical misery, madness, and the brutality of the austere landscape. The parade of human grotesques culminates in a hundred-page monologue by an eccentric, paranoid prince, a relentlessly flowing cascade of words that is classic Bernhard.
Thomas Bernhard is “one of the masters of contemporary European fiction” (George Steiner); “one of the century’s most gifted writers” (); “a virtuoso of rancor and rage” (). And although he is favorably compared with Franz Kafka, Samuel Beckett, and Robert Musil, it is only in recent years that he has gained a devoted cult following in America.
A powerful, compact novella, provides a perfect introduction to the absurd, dark, and uncommonly comic world of Bernhard, showing a preoccupation with themes — illness and madness, isolation, tragic friendships — that would obsess Bernhard throughout his career. records the conversations of the unnamed narrator and his friend Oehler while they walk, discussing anything that comes to mind but always circling back to their mutual friend Karrer, who has gone irrevocably mad. Perhaps the most overtly philosophical work in Bernhard’s highly philosophical oeuvre, provides a penetrating meditation on the impossibility of truly thinking.
In this exuberantly satirical novel, the tutor Atzbacher has been summoned by his friend Reger to meet him in a Viennese museum. While Reger gazes at a Tintoretto portrait, Atzbacher — who fears Reger's plans to kill himself — gives us a portrait of the musicologist: his wisdom, his devotion to his wife, and his love-hate relationship with art. With characteristically acerbic wit, Bernhard exposes the pretensions and aspirations of humanity in a novel at once pessimistic and strangely exhilarating.
Thomas Bernhard was one of the most original writers of the twentieth century. His formal innovation ranks with Beckett and Kafka, his outrageously cantankerous voice recalls Dostoevsky, but his gift for lacerating, lyrical, provocative prose is incomparably his own.One of Bernhard's most acclaimed novels, centers on a fictional relationship between piano virtuoso Glenn Gould and two of his fellow students who feel compelled to renounce their musical ambitions in the face of Gould's incomparable genius. One commits suicide, while the other- the obsessive, witty, and self-mocking narrator- has retreated into obscurity. Written as a monologue in one remarkable unbroken paragraph, is a brilliant meditation on success, failure, genius, and fame.
A gathering of brilliant and viciously funny recollections from one of the twentieth century’s most famous literary enfants terribles.
Written in 1980 but published here for the first time, these texts tell the story of the various farces that developed around the literary prizes Thomas Bernhard received in his lifetime. Whether it was the Bremen Literature Prize, the Grillparzer Prize, or the Austrian State Prize, his participation in the acceptance ceremony — always less than gracious, it must be said — resulted in scandal (only at the awarding of the prize from Austria’s Federal Chamber of Commerce did Bernhard feel at home: he received that one, he said, in recognition of the great example he set for shopkeeping apprentices). And the remuneration connected with the prizes presented him with opportunities for adventure — of the new-house and luxury-car variety.
Here is a portrait of the writer as a prizewinner: laconic, sardonic, and shaking his head with biting amusement at the world and at himself. A revelatory work of dazzling comedy, the pinnacle of Bernhardian art.
Fiercely observed, often hilarious, and “reminiscent of Ibsen and Strindberg” (), this exquisitely controversial novel was initially banned in its author’s homeland.
A searing portrayal of Vienna’s bourgeoisie, it begins with the arrival of an unnamed writer at an ‘artistic dinner’ hosted by a composer and his society wife — a couple he once admired and has come to loathe. The guest of honor, a distinguished actor from the Burgtheater, is late. As the other guests wait impatiently, they are seen through the critical eye of the writer, who narrates a silent but frenzied tirade against these former friends, most of whom have been brought together by Joana, a woman they buried earlier that day. Reflections on Joana’s life and suicide are mixed with these denunciations until the famous actor arrives, bringing an explosive end to the evening that even the writer could not have seen coming.
Instead of the book he’s meant to write, Rudolph, a Viennese musicologist, produces this dark and grotesquely funny account of small woes writ large, of profound horrors detailed and rehearsed to the point of distraction. We learn of Rudolph’s sister, whose help he invites, then reviles as malevolent meddling; his ‘really marvelous’ house, which he hates; the suspicious illness he carefully nurses; his ten-year-long attempt to write the perfect opening sentence; and, finally, his escape to the island of Majorca, which turns out to be the site of someone else’s very real horror story.
A brilliant and haunting tale of procrastination, failure, and despair, is a perfect example of why Thomas Bernhard is remembered as “one of the masters of contemporary European fiction” (George Steiner).
The scientist Roithamer has dedicated the last six years of his life to “the Cone”, an edifice of mathematically exact construction that he has erected in the center of his family’s estate in honor of his beloved sister. Not long after its completion, he takes his own life. As an unnamed friend pieces together — literally, from thousands of slips of papers and one troubling manuscript — the puzzle of Rotheimer’s breakdown, what emerges is the story of a genius ceaselessly compelled to correct and refine his perceptions until the only logical conclusion is the negation of his own soul.
Considered by many critics to be Thomas Bernhard’s masterpiece, is a cunningly crafted and unforgettable meditation on the tension between the desire for perfection and the knowledge that it is unattainable.
For five years, Konrad has imprisoned himself and his crippled wife in an abandoned lime works where he’s conducted odd auditory experiments and prepared to write his masterwork, . As the story begins, he’s just blown the head off his wife with the Mannlicher carbine she kept strapped to her wheelchair. The murder and the bizarre life that led to it are the subject of a mass of hearsay related by an unnamed life-insurance salesman in a narrative as mazy, byzantine, and mysterious as the lime works — Konrad’s sanctuary and tomb.