thomas bernhard

  • My Prizes by Thomas Bernhard

    Thomas Bernhard’s disingenuity is revealed with more clarity than anywhere else, in the 2009 volume My Prizes (German: Meine Preise) which comes translated into English by Carol Brown Janeway with a preface by Frances Wilson.

    At one point, incidental to his demolition of the Franz Theodor Csokor Prize Thomas Bernhard writes: ‘I was in the process of being exposed to a particularly savage wave of personal attacks in the Austrian newspapers. I do not know why.’

    These two sentences may surprise the observant readers of the Thomas Bernhard oeuvre as Bernhard is usually to be found verbally assaulting Austria, attacking the press with no provocation, and for pouring scorn on any and all Austrian cultural, medical and governmental institutions.

    Even one or two of Thomas Bernhard’s books — even a mere dip into Alte Mesiter or Ja — would indicate why the press attack him — but if any final or summary item of evidence were needed to answer the conundrum as to why Bernhard might be savaged in the Austrian press, My Prizes is it.

  • The Loser by Thomas Bernhard

    the loser thomas bernhardI used to like listening to Glenn Gould and that was until I had read The Loser by Thomas Bernhard and now all I can think of is Bernhard laughing in an insane manner at Glenn’s precision, it was nothing to do with Bernhard, but Bernhard made it his, just by laughing at it.

    Manic, reiterative and an attack not only on the novel as form, but an attack on music, the possibility of art, an attack on Glenn Gould and an attack on taste, an attack on life, and naturally an attack on the Austrian state, The Loser by Thomas Bernhard is a commotion of images and thoughts, dressed as the story of three persons, the narrator, the sour Canadian tunester Glenn Gould, and a fictional character called Wertheimer, who is even more sour than Glenn Gould, and who gives up a promising career as a concert pianist, and then kills himself because he realises that he will never be as good a piano artist as Glenn Gould.

  • Woodcutters (Cutting Timber) by Thomas Bernhard

    Whereas many Bernhard novels conclude with a suicide, Cutting Timber, also known as Woodcutters and also in full Cutting Timber: An Irritation (and in German Holzfällen), commences with one.

    Much unravels concerning this death in Woodcutters, more than one might normally expect from Thomas Bernhard; indeed we are treated to an unsightly parade of Viennese artistic types, making this a highly pleasurable addition to the misanthropic canon.

    The suicide in Woodcutters is treated less as pathetic (The Loser) and less as a mandatory response to living (Old Masters) but as a more of a conventional tragedy which allows the full hypocritical reins of the characters to be let loose, the characters being largely artists, writers, musicians and theatre people.

    They are without doubt, and predictably, not an auspicious collection.