(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)