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Found 5 results

  1. Thomas Bernhard is my favourite author when I'm not reading William Faulkner. This is a novella in a book (hardback in my case) of three novellas called Three Novellas. This edition appears to be the only english translation of two of the first two novellas in the book : Amras and Playing Watten. Amras was first published in 1964, in German, (Bernhard was Austrian), it is an early work by Bernhard and is relentlessly dark. It contains all of the touchstones of Bernhard's work - illness and madness, isolation, tragic friendships, and dark humour (I confess that I did not see the humour in this). It's about two brothers who survive a family suicide pact and are then moved, by their maternal uncle, into a ruined tower that he owns in the Amras region of Austria to recover. The younger of the two has epilepsy and both struggle with madness whilst trying either to come fully back to life or finally die. It is very short, some 60 pages my copy, and it is difficult. It's both stream-of-consciousness and existentialism and it does tax the reader, which I enjoy, but the prose is amazing. Highly recommended but only if you like struggling with your fiction and don't mind reading about dark subjects. The advantage of this particular story is that it's short so you won't struggle for long.
  2. Novella number two from the Three Novellas hardback. This is very short indeed but it does not lack any punches for that. It's written in Berhard's typical difficult to access style, in mostly one long paragraph with only two breaks in the whole story (even although it's very short, some 49/50 pages, one long paragraph is surprisingly challenging to read). It's about a weekly card game of Watten where one of the players is a doctor who had his practice taken forcibly from him as a result of an addiction to morphine and a papermill worker who killed himself. The doctor refuses to play Watten ever again and he is the narrator of the story, telling another player why he won't play any more. It's pretty much existentialism and not quite but nearly stream of consciousness. It's dark, uncompromising and bleak but not as sick as it sounds and definitely isn't in the horror category. And completely wonderful with outstanding prose (*sigh* be still my beating heart). Recommended if you like to struggle with your fiction and don't mind dark subjects
  3. Walking is the third book in the Three Novellas collection. It's just as uncompromising, and bleak as the other two and also deals with depressing subjects. This story contains a suicide, but not as prominently as the previous story, one of the main characters goes mad and the other two characters discuss all of this while out walking. Bernhard is no doubt insightful and does not shy away from difficult topics but he does tend to melancholy and I don't see the humour, albeit dark humour, in his work. This one is just as outstanding as the other two, the prose is amazing (which is alone what makes it worth reading), the characters well drawn and the story believable. It's just unrelenting in it's bleak darkness and difficult to read as the prose is more formal than usual. Nevertheless, highly recommended.
  4. I'll quote Amazon : This collection of four stories by the writer George Steiner called “one of the masters of European fiction” is, as longtime fans of Thomas Bernhard would expect, bleakly comic and inspiringly rancorous. The subject of his stories vary: in one, Goethe summons Wittgenstein to discuss the Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus; “Montaigne: A Story (in 22 Installments)” tells of a young man sealing himself in a tower to read; “Reunion,” meanwhile, satirizes that very impulse to escape; and the final story rounds out the collection by making Bernhard himself a victim, persecuted by his greatest enemy―his very homeland of Austria. Underpinning all these variously comic, tragic, and bitingly satirical excursions is Bernhard’s abiding interest in, and deep knowledge of, the philosophy of doubt. Bernhard’s work can seem off-putting on first acquaintance, as he suffers no fools and offers no hand to assist the unwary reader. But those who make the effort to engage with Bernhard on his own uncompromising terms will discover a writer with powerful comic gifts, penetrating insight into the failings and delusions of modern life, and an unstinting desire to tell the whole, unvarnished, unwelcome truth. Start here, readers; the rewards are great. My feelings entirely. Recommended
  5. Difficult to characterise Thomas Bernhard so I'll just use Amazon's summary : The Austrian playwright, novelist, and poet Thomas Bernhard (1931-89) is acknowledged as among the major writers of our times. At once pessimistic and exhilarating, Bernhard's work depicts the corruption of the modern world, the dynamics of totalitarianism, and the interplay of reality and appearance. In this stunning translation of The Voice Imitator, Bernhard gives us one of his most darkly comic works. A series of parable-like anecdotes some drawn from newspaper reports, some from conversation, some from hearsay; this satire is both subtle and acerbic. What initially appear to be quaint little stories inevitably indict the sterility and callousness of modern life, not just in urban centres but everywhere. Bernhard presents an ordinary world careening into absurdity and disaster. This book is 104 pages long and has 1 short story per page. As Amazon said they are subtle and acerbic and incredibly well written. Worth reading just for the prose. Another of my favourite authors I'd recommend him to anyone but this one may be slightly easier as it's a) short and b) has a new story on each page. Bernhard is famous for his stream of consciousness and writing a whole book in a series of paragraphs without chapters, and sometimes without page numbers - try that for an interesting experience! He is indeed at once pessimistic and exhilarating which is a curious feeling when reading but delicious and should be explored. Highly recommended.
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