Thomas Bernhard Anniversaries

(Almost double) anniversaries:

Thomas Bernhard, one of the most famous and influentual Austrian novelists, poets and playwrights of the twentieth century lived from February 9, 1931 to February 12, 1989.

During his lifetime, the author and his works were often the centre of heated debate and arguments. One of his novels was confiscated, his last play "Heldenplatz" (Heroe's place) in which he attacked the Nazi past of his country caused outrage and scandal. Thomas Bernhard had a love-hate relationship with the Austrian state and its institutions. He called Austria once "a common hell in which the intellect is incessantly defamed and art and science are destroyed."

He was called the "great stubborn loner," the "humorous tragedian," the "macabre humorist," the "suffering rebel" (Reich-Ranicki), the "state-qualified misanthrope" (Ulrich Weinzierl), the "virtuoso of desperation and mannered moroseness" (Eberhard Falcke), the "comedian infatuated with gloom" (Franz Josef Görtz) or the "misanthropic word mill".

(Source: Interview with Asta Scheib 1986 - From One Catastrophe to the Next). (This is one of the few interviews with T.B.)

Bernhard suffered from a lung disease for the greater part of his life.

His style was called iconoclastic and relentlessly repetitive, the last sounding a big towards the boring which he's certainly not.

Bernhard's plays show the influence of the theatre of the absurd, especially Ionesco and Beckett. From the 1970s he started to gain fame as one of the most successful modern playwrights and dramatists with a total of eighteen plays.

I have only recently (re-)discovered Bernhard. Obviously I was not ready for him before although there had been several attempts. Now I'm reading almost breathlessly one work after the other. My favourites at the moment are the autobiographical narratives "Die Ursache" (The Cause), "Der Keller" (The Cellar), "Ein Kind" (A Child). The five autobiographical volumes are a single volume in English titled “Gathering Evidence".

Jessica Ferri writes about her Thomas Bernhard Obsession.

Enjoy the Five Stories from the Voice Imitator

Thomas Bernhard in English

A quote: "Everyone, he went on, speaks a language he does not understand, but which now and then is understood by others. That is enough to permit one to exist and at least to be misunderstood."
— Thomas Bernhard (Gargoyles: A Novel)


Lydia said...

You have such a great mind, Francessa! Thank you for the exposure to the great mind of Thomas Berhnard also. :)

Lydia said...

Look Francessa, Dex has followed your blog! I love his handsome new profile shot (well I just love him, you know!)

francessa said...

Thanks, Lydia! And for pointing out my new follower. In my morning daze (it's 6.50 and I'm in school since 6.15) I hadn't even noticed ..

Hi Dex, if you read this! Nice to follow me :-). I'm going to follow you too!

deus ex machina said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
deus ex machina said...

Great to be here, Francessa! Thank you for introducing Berhnard. Hope I could find a copy of The Loser. Such a great novelist he is, based on the link you provided. I should love him the way I loved Murakami. The beautiful depression, the seemingly inane and riddling prose. . .yet just a matter of soulful brilliance.

francessa said...

Hi Dex,

you love Murakami? Me, too! What have you read? I read The Wind-up-bird chronicle and Kafka on the shore. Yes, I think you might like Bernhard.

deus ex machina said...

oh, kindred spirit. :) I am an avid follower of Haruki Murakami's work, Francessa. I have read most, the two you just mentioned, Norwegian Wood and After Dark are my treasures.

francessa said...

That's great, Dex! Norwegian Wood is next on my list! We could set up a book club ;-)

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