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The Lime Works

4.16 of 5 stars 4.16  ·  rating details  ·  507 ratings  ·  46 reviews
For twenty 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, 'The Sense of Hearing.' 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 ...more
Paperback, 241 pages
Published June 15th 1986 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1970)
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If you happen to love long, comprehensive physical descriptions -- the kind that many nineteenth century novelists (and Anne Rice) trafficked in -- you're out of luck with Thomas Bernhard, who at most restricts himself to a few general details about a person, place, or object and allows the situation or characterization to evoke physical appearances (often grotesquely) in the reader's mind. In other words, Bernhard crafts his worlds expressionistically.

Of the eponymous lime works building, the o
Just what was needed: early October reimmersion in the expansively claustrophobic representation of intellectual and interpersonal ruthlessness expressed by an obsessive with an advanced sense of the tragicomic. I "enjoyed" this one, although Bernhard's technique isn't yet refined here. It's longer and more labyrinthine than most later novels -- other than his last novel/masterpiece Extinction. Not as "funny" as his later stuff, although there are many dark silent laughs that have nothing to do ...more
Jan 20, 2011 JSou rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to JSou by: David
Shelves: fiction, favo-u-rites
This book was crazy-good. I almost wish I could go hide out in some dark and dreary place (not as dreary as the lime works--nooooo thank you) for a day and re-read this in one straight shot. While reading this, I would immeadiately be so immersed in the story that even the smallest distraction would annoy me to no end. God forbid anyone tried to talk to me while I had this book in my hands; they certainly got the ol' stink-eye. This was basically a 241-page narrative--no chapters, no paragraphs. ...more
In the fictions of Thomas Bernhard, nature looms as an unknowable and menacing presence that permeates the entirety of the pathetic struggle through time that an alternately pitiable and contemptible humanity has ironically labelled existence. Faced with this implacable entirety from the dimmest flickering of consciousness, mankind has created a multitude of structures and systems—society, culture, religion, language—mated with abstract concepts—love, hate, happiness, hope—in an effort to convin ...more
It seems necessary when writing about Thomas Bernhard to use certain words or phrases to describe his work. I don’t think I have ever read an article or review that didn’t, for example, mention insanity, or ranting or run-on sentences or hate or tedium. If you wanted to you could play a Thomas Bernhard Review drinking game: suicide [take a sip], repetition [take a sip] and so on. The funny thing is that a positive review, and most of these reviews are positive, is meant to inspire people to read ...more
Como todo Bernhard, en cuanto empiezas a leer te das cuenta que se parece mucho a ir estirando del hilo de un tapiz, en que estiras y estiras del hilo del tapiz y cada vez vas sabiendo más cosas del tapiz. Pero también es como recorrer una escalera de caracol, donde paradójicamente vuelves a acabar al principio de la escalera de caracol. Y según vas deshilando el tapiz y vas recorriendo la escalera de caracol, sabes que el narrador está contando, a través de los testimonios de Wieser y Fro, ambo ...more
Jim Elkins
The Bernhard addiction is nearly impossible, perhaps impossible, to break. When I read "Gathering Evidence," I thought it would be my last Bernhard book, and I said why. But the reasons drain away, because his obsessive-compulsive, repetitive, unending and interminable, grammatically stringy rants just will not dissolve, just won't fade from memory: they are like adhesions, gluey things, echoing obscenities, the memory of intransigent hate or unhappiness.

This book isn't any better or worse than
A solid four, in my humble estimation. Certainly the most grinding and saddening example of Bernhard's method, maybe because it concerns itself with domestic space (the end of a long and torturous marriage) and because it eschews pretty much all of the lightening mechanisms you might find in his other novels. There's none of the musical flights of fancy one finds in the Loser, none of the beautiful pastoral evocation of the Aurach gorge you get in Correction, and certainly none of the (Sometimes ...more
Justin Evans
Prime Bernhard here, a novel so horrific that on opening its pages I heard a faint whisper of black metal beckoning me hither. The glorious centerpiece is the narrator's attempt to produce a theory of hearing (note: he has no idea what he's talking about) by forcing his wife to undergo the 'Urbanchich Method,' which doesn't exist, but consists nonetheless in repeating words, syllables and sentences at the poor woman and then asking her how she feels about them.

That is, of course, just what the
Thomas Bernhard has to be one of the most insane contemporary novelist in our life time. What is it about Austria that produces madmen. A writer's writer which means every writer should dip their toes into the pool of Bernhard. And i guess this is as good as any place to start. You like paragraph breaks? Forget it!
Nate D
Nov 12, 2010 Nate D rated it 4 of 5 stars
Recommends it for: terminal recluses
Recommended to Nate D by: Troy S / Patrick M, sort of he explained to Weiser: precisely because I can see clearly that i can begin to write at any moment, that everything is arranged and in perfect order for starting to write, everything is pointing towards this moment of readiness to write, the very awareness that everything is pushing me in that direction makes it impossible for me to start writing. Every time it occurs to him that the very sight of his desk with everything on it prepared and ready, so that he can begin to write his book, i
dark. claustrophobic. sickening. tedious. mad. brilliant. hilarious. disturbing. inspiring.
Bernhardt's style isn't for everyone, what with the first person voice and lack of any obvious structure to the monologue, but if you can sink into his stream of consciousness long enough to get a sense of his narrative, his books are amazing. This is no exception, although I suspect that I'd enjoy his books even more if I spent a few years in Austria.
The ending of this novel surprised me. On the other hand, the more Bernhard I read (and I've read all of his novels translated into English and several of his plays), the more nuances and complexities I see in his work. Yes, The Lime Works, as with most other Bernhard novels, is a single-paragraph, near rant. Yes, the narrator is self-deceiving, self-destructive, willful, angry, much put-upon, and (seemingly) unfairly punished (i.e., forced to live in an uncaring, unfeeling world). But. the prot ...more
Another punishing novel by Bernhard. Is it possible this one is darker than the rest? Or is it just that it's 240 pages, rather than the usually more manageable 120 to 130?

Dense, dark, obsessive, yet as always with Bernhard the descent into the darkness helps us appreciate the light all the more, and commit to live more fully within it.

This novel also viciously emphasizes the point that if you have something that's important for you to do... you better damn well start doing it right now, then ma
This is a very strange and fascinating book. While reading it, I found myself analysing it on two different levels: the level of the text itself and what was written, and the level of the writing of the book, what the author himself must have been thinking/feeling/doing. Is the author manipulating us the way Konrad manipulates his wife? Added to that was even more nuance: the points of view of the narrator (N), Fro, Konrad as a genius scientist, Konrad as a husband, Konrad as a madman, the peopl ...more
Fatih Balkış
Bir de Türkçesinden okuyalım. Çevirmeni arkadaşımdır, epey zor bir metin karşısında iyi iş çıkarmış, Milana'ya Mektuplar'ı da çevirmişti başarıyla.
Sheer genius. Bernhard at his most intricate, rancorous, sustained, reflective peak...
I wonder if Bernhard's Austria was as big a lie as modern America is today. Between the internet and reality tv we are assaulted with lies and we choose not to acknowledge them thus creating even more lies. I like the anti austria stuff here because I felt it applied to my country where all politics are lies and all the poeple working on this campaings are4 liars also and just in normal chit chat I am reassuring you that Watching Love it or list it That it doesn;t bother me when in actuality i w ...more
Not to oversimplify but this may be the greatest book ever about procrastination. More later(jk)
One of the few books to contribute to my nightmares (where I was being subjected to a visual variant of the Urbanchich exercises where a screen of words was overlaid on my eyes and my focus on choosing the "correct" word was my only chance at being free of a diagnosis of some nameless psycopathology - a bit too much time spent on Duolingo and Memrise lately I guess).

Having recently read The Trial and The Castle, I detect the influence of Kafka on this book more than any of the others I've read t
I see the words "bleak" and "madness" and so on in reviews of Bernhard's novels, especially this one, and I agree; those words fit his novels. I would add "hilarious". There's a few moments in The Lime Works, the most brutal and dark of his novels I've read (I've read most of them translated into English), that release tension in the reader so powerfully that the tension can only escape as painful belly-laughing. He has this trick in all his novels where he suddenly shifts the perspective on som ...more
Michael Haller
More like 4.5 stars, but the last 50 pages were such a quintessentially brilliant Bernhardian portrait of a raving OCD genius/madman, unlike any other writer I've read (although a bit like the Celine of Death on the Installment plan. Sort of.). The scene where Konrad goes to the bank to withdraw money from his depleted account and is called into the manager's office and the manager summons various clerks to retrieve all of the documents relating to Konrad's account, and the documents pile up so ...more
I'm continuing my 3-book sampling of Thomas Bernhard. Gargoyles got me curious, and The Lime Works was definitely interesting but at the same time bewildering. The whole novel is a recounting of the events leading up to Konrad's horrible murder of his invalid wife in a defunct lime production plant. All of it is related through the various vantage points of a life-insurance agent assigned to the case as well of other witnesses. The course of events undergoes further "refraction" because the narr ...more
sudden-onset claustrophobia; also, very cold in here.

excerpts from a march 2007 email-
oli says: "and tomorrow when i am not lazy i might get into why i think it was actually useful for him to continue with the he said, she said, blah, blah, blah shit. something about disrupting the conventional progression of narrative within a novel and attempting to embody something sonic and dynamic within something static and textual? maybe he also finds it necessary to reiterate the circularity of text its
This avante-garde book which is all one paragraph relates in third person the rantings and explanations of a madman who has just blown his wifes head off. The surprising part is; it works. I felt compelled to compare my life to his at key points, to compare my marriage, my friendships, my excuses. Not an easy or light read, but one that is definitely a head shaker.
A dark, paranoid story on obsession resulting in nothing but suffering and failure, all told through claustrophobic blocks of text (not a single paragraph break!). So in other words, everything you expect from Bernhard.
Nearly Bernhard's best, in that here he's found his nearly purest form, nearly most fluent nihilism, nearly most devastating comedy, sending all you amateur curmudgeons reeling in awe. The book is now all but impossible to find for under $40. I borrowed an edition from a local library intending to write out a personal copy in order to dodge the outrageousness but found myself too lazy to return the book or even renew its status which led to my having to pay $25 in late fees. I will one day attem ...more
Kobe Bryant
This book is basically like all his other books but the 'plot' is better
I'm reading all of Bernhard's novels in order (by publication) at the moment and The Lime Works--his third novel (not counting the posthumously published first verse novel plus the novellas)--is pretty much the first time where he puts it all together (his early story 'The Cap' is another early highligh). Frost and (to a lesser degree) Gargoyles first have their moments, but are basically the products of a promising young author--this novel reads much more like the work of the man who would late ...more
Tercera novela que leo de Bernhard, y vuelvo a encontrar ese estilo asfixiante, obsesivo y machacón marca de la casa y esos protagonistas misántropos, lúcidos y al mismo tiempo al borde de la locura. Si "Corrección" me fascinó, en este caso mi entusiasmo se fue desinflando hacia la segunda mitad de la novela, que se me hizo un poco repetitiva. Con todo, creo que todo al que le guste la buena literatura tiene que conocer a Thomas Bernhard, es único.
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Thomas Bernhard was an Austrian author, who ranges among the most distinguished German speaking writers of the second half of the 20th century.
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“Las palabras echan a perder lo que se piensa, el papel ridiculiza lo que se piensa.” 2 likes
“But instead of thinking about my book and how to write it, as I go pacing the floor, I fall to counting my footsteps until I feel about to go mad.” 1 likes
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