Alte Meister
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Alte Meister

4.21 of 5 stars 4.21  ·  rating details  ·  732 ratings  ·  54 reviews
In this exuberantly satirical novel, the tutor Atzbacher has been
summoned by his friend Reger to meet him in a Viennese museum. While
Reger gazes at a Tintoretto portrait, Atzbacher--who fears Reger's
plans to kill himself--gives us a portrait of the musicologist: his
wisdom, his devotion to his wife, and his love-hate relationship with
art. With characteristically acerbi
...more
Paperback, 310 pages
Published 1988 by Suhrkamp (first published 1985)
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Jeff Jackson
"I pulled out several drawers and several chests and looked into them and kept taking out pictures and writings and correspondence of my wife and put everything on the table, one item after another, and progressively inspected everything, and because I am an honest person my dear Atzenbach, I have to admit that I wept while doing so. Suddenly I gave my tears free reign, I had not wept for decades and suddenly I gave my tears free reign, Reger said. I sat there, giving my tears free reign, and I...more
AC
Read about half of this - it is a self-parody (as the subtitle suggests: "a comedy"), and so is less compelling. There are some fascinating passages, such as the passage on life (and art) as fragment (rather than as whole), which can serve as a set-piece for 'modernism'.

Still, not my favorite Bernhard, and I'm going to move on.
Troy
This is the first Bernhard book that I didn't love, and which I only moderately enjoyed. It's watered down Bernhard, de-fanged Bernhard, a Bernhard rant that is not so different from an internet spew on a well-written blog, or a particularly insightful and nasty Jon Stewart segment. But the magic wasn't there. The bile, the dark and funny hatred towards the world is diffused and feels rote. Perhaps it's because Bernhard is a one-note writer and after I read the first two, which seemed so fresh a...more
lisa_emily
If I were to write this novel in three lines:
In the Kunsthistorische Museum, an old man rants in front of a painting of an old man.
Railing against the debased society, art that does not heal,
Mourning his wife.

As I read this novel, a thought passed through my mind. Why would anyone want to read this? It is a rant, yes, at times humorous, but still a rant. And like rants listened to in life, one can barely hang around for more than a few pages at a time. It took me some time to get through this...more
Ivana
An old man realizing that, at the end, what matters is not how much art we've seen, even if we're very very passionate about it; nor how much beautiful music we've listened to; nor how many great philosophy books we've read. What matters most is that one person we loved so much -- but we only realize that after we lose her. And it's only human touch that helps, no matter how much we love other things.
Petja
Това чудо е гениално! Жизнеутвърждаващ негативизъм. Това е майстерверк отвсякъде. Излято в един език, невъзможен за говорене. Като да се наведеш да пиеш вода от извор и да те захлупи водопад :) Бернхард завинаги! :)
trovateOrtensia
Il libro è grande dalla prima all'ultima pagina, com'è del resto ovvio trattandosi di Bernhard.
Voglio qui trascrivere soltanto un brano su Heidegger, "quel ridicolo filisteo nazionalsocialista coi pantaloni alla zuava". Una vera goduria per quanti, come me, detestano (real) visceralmente questo "imbonitore della filosofia" , oltretutto umanamente miserrimo, opportunista e vile.

"Heidegger, il filosofo della Foresta Nera Heidegger, ha annegato nel kitsch la filosofia. (...) Heidegger, sulle cui or...more
Gustl
Qualche anno fa mi recai a Vienna, sulle orme del mio scrittore preferito: A.Schnitzler; feci un giro al Prater dove nacque e visitai ( dall'esterno, pareva disabitata), la casa dove visse la seconda parte della sua vita. Colsi l'occasione per fiondarmi nella Pinacoteca della capitale austriaca alla ricerca della sala del Bordone, che secondo il romanzo di Bernhard avrebbe dovuto contenere "L'uomo con barba" del Tintoretto; quale delusione nello scoprire che non esisteva nessuna sala del Bordone...more
lyell bark
this book is real cool, one dude reports the rants of another dude and the complain about everything. replace the occurence of the word "austrian" with the word "american" for some good extra-textual funniness imo. best part is when reger owns having to walk + toilets. also it reminded me to listen to listen to janacek's string quartets and operas, leos janacek fuckin ruled errbody.
Catherine
you will not find a single so-called great painter, or let us say a so-called old master, who had a good character and good taste, and by good character I mean simply an incorruptible character...Everything they have painted and which is hanging here is repulsive to me...and yet for decades I have been unable to avoid studying it.

-Thomas Bernhard, Old Masters
Michelle
Book club choice - I wasn't really a fan. It was 150 pages I had to dredge through. Now, every thirty pages or so, there was something good and interesting, but the rest...not so much.
Cody
very very funny. it is really cool when you get 3/4 way through and realize u descended a rambly&brambly grouch mountain and have arrived in a real chill melancholic valley
Asa
Interesting, but a bit difficult to read since there are no chapters or text breaks so the whole book is one long text. This book is one of those where either you like it or you can't stand the way it's written, no breaks and a lot of repetitions, and the very negative world view both the characters and the author has, at least about Austria, its politics, culture and people. I liked it and found it rather amusing when the characters went on these long monologues about different writers, compose...more
Scott Gates
At first I thought that maybe I was just sick of Bernhard. I’ve read all of the novels that preceded this one chronologically.

But then I went back and opened up Correction, which I more and more think is his masterpiece, and was disabused of this idea. Correction is a haunting, poetic, relentless investigation of one guy’s outlandish obsession and artistic drive. It was this book and The Loser that inspired me to read all of Bernhard’s novels. The final pages of Correction contain some of the mo...more
ASongForSimeon
[...] Lei capisce che cos'è il vuoto quando ad un tratto si ritrova tra migliaia e migliaia di libri e di scritti che l'hanno completamente abbandonata e che di colpo per lei non significano più niente, se non appunto questo vuoto atroce, così Reger. Quando lei ha perso la persona più vicina al suo cuore, tutto le sembra vuoto, dovunque lei guardi tutto è vuoto, e lei guarda e riguarda e vede che tutto è realmente vuoto, e lo sarà per sempre, così Reger. Così capisce che non sono gli spiriti mag...more
David
Eighty-two-year-old Reger has been coming to Kunsthistorisches Museum in Vienna for over thirty years to sit on a bench in Bordone room in front of where Tintoretto's White-bearded man is placed. The temperature and the lighting is optimal for Reger in Bordone room and in such atmosphere he can do his best thinking. His friend, Atzbacher, who is also the narrator of the story, is observing Reger sitting on the bench prior to their date on the day the story is set on. The whole book is one long s...more
Rıza Yüksel
Biz insanın düşünebileceği en iğrenç hükümete sahibiz, en sahtekarına, en kötüsüne, en hainine ve aynı zamanda en budalasına, diyoruz ve düşündüğümüz doğru da ve bunu her an söylüyoruz da, dedi Reger, ama biz bu alçak, sahtekar ve kötü ve yalancı ve budala ülkeden dışarıya baktığımızda, öteki ülkelerin de aynı biçimde yalancı ve sahtekar ve kısaca aynı biçimde aşağılık olduğunu görüyoruz, dedi Reger. Ama bu diğer ülkeler bizi o kadar ilgilendirmiyor, dedi Reger, yalnız bizim ülkemiz bizi ilgilen...more
Tanja
Thomas Bernhard in his continuous criticism of Austrian society opens a debate about the limits of small political units which praise artists, philosophers and social elite that is average or less and also discusses the meaning of knowledge and wisdom as such. After the death of Reger's wife, the lonely husband questiones the wisdom of big philosophers whose ideas followed him on everyday basis. However, they are not much of a help in moments of loneliness, when the beloved ones pass away. Even...more
Kalika
This is a masterpiece that must be read by everyone who wants to be a writer, musician, artist. The whole book (all 250 odd pages of it) is a single paragraph in a single place, events don't move forward, action doesn't move forward, people stay where they are (in an art-museum in Vienna). It is a literal piece of opinions, of Reger, the music-critic, on just about everything in music, art, politics, society and philosophy. No holy cows here, everything is ripped apart, vitriolic but humorous an...more
Peter
5.5.2013 Anstoß zur Lektüre war ein Ö1 Bericht über Thomas Bernhards Vater. Ich bin ein Bernhard Leser der ersten Stunden (Amras, Ja, Verstörung u.a.)und freue mich, mit einem "alten Bekannten" ein paar Stunden verbringen zu dürfen.
12.05.2013 In diesem Roman hat sich der großartige philosophische Grantler als Menschenfreund verraten. Eine Komödie mit tragischen Zügen. Der Roman ist kunstvoll und klug in seiner ganzen Einfachheit. Mehr oder minder ein einziger Monolog eine einzige, sprühende Wor...more
Romy
A book about Austrian society, politics, art, and people. No real plot, only two men sitting on one of the couches in the Kunsthistorische Museum in Vienna talking about those topics while staring at Tintoretto's Whitebearded Man (see book cover).
Since I have worked in the same museum throughout the last 2 months... it was quite authentic and funny to read this book.

It takes a while to get used to the structure of writing (no chapters, only one looooong conversation) but the more you get into i...more
Paul
Thomas Bernhard is raving master and I would likely write the same novels were I an author and Austrian. I wish I could do the same for in critiquing US, and perhaps one day I will practice myself into a ranting frenzy and finally poke holes in some of the idiotic aspects of US that eat me alive every day. I certainly recommend this to anyone who enjoys a good obsessive rant now and then. Topics touched in some sense: the pure idiocy, arrogance and putrid jingoism people are commonly riddled by,...more
Evan
things Reger actually likes:

schoenberg, webern and berg
novalis
schopenhauer
kokoschka and schiele (with reservations)
Dupont Morand
Unadulterated venom and a terrible loneliness that verges on solipsism, and eventually a good laugh.
Conceitedreader
i wasn't sure after 'extinction', but i think he really loathes austria
Cns
Part of the Penguin "Central European Classics" series--a FANTASTIC set of books. I think you can only get them in Britain, but you can order them from Powell's for a little extra shipping...I hadn't read any of the authors before, but I'm finding each one excellent. The London Review of Books just gave this one a bad review (obviously the reviewer was from Austria and had no sense of humor...) but don't believe it. This book is Hilarious! A nice change from reading my other favorite Austrian wr...more
Tommaso
"iterazione sincopata"
Mikko Saari
This was surprisingly interesting. There are many things going against it: the whole book is pretty much 200 pages of old man complaining about everything (and I do mean everything), with not a single paragraph break in the book. However, if you stick around mr Reger, he turns out to be an interesting human being after all, with weaknesses and vulnerabilities. The book is subtitled a comedy, but it's also quite tragic.
Iselin
Puuh... Noch nie sind mir 300 Seiten so unangenehm lang vorgekommen. Wer will schon über eine derartige Spanne dem Geschimpfe eines 82-jährigen folgen? Der Vorteil dieser sich ständig wiederholenden Zetereien: Man kann sich besser auf die Form konzentrieren und geht nicht so sehr im Inhalt verloren wie in anderen Romanen. Ist wohl nur für Germanisten interessant. War auch für mich eher eine Pflichtlektüre.
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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.
More about Thomas Bernhard...
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“Art altogether is nothing but a survival skill, we should never lose sight of this fact, it is, time and again, just an attempt -- an attempt that seems touching even to our intellect -- to cope with this world and its revolting aspects, which, as we know, is invariably possible only by resorting to lies and falsehoods, to hyprocrisy and self-deception, Reger said. These pictures are full of lies and falsehoods and full of hypocrisy and self-deception, there is nothing else in them if we disregard their often inspired artistry. All these pictures, moreover, are an expression of man's absolute helplessness in coping with himself and with what surrounds him all his life. That is what all these pictures express, this helplessness which, on the one hand, embarasses the intellect and, on the other hand, bewilders the same intellect and moves it to tears, Reger said.” 20 likes
“The art historians are the real wreckers of art, Reger said. The art historians twaddle so long about art until they have killed it with their twaddle. Art is killed by the twaddle of the art historians. My God, I often think, sitting here on the settee while the art historians are driving their helpless flocks past me, what a pity about all these people who have all art driven out of them, driven out of them for good, by these very art historians. The art historians’ trade is the vilest trade there is, and a twaddling art historian, but then there are only twaddling art historians, deserves to be chased out with a whip, chased out of the world of art, Reger said, all art historians deserve to be chased out of the world of art, because art historians are the real wreckers of art and we should not allow art to be wrecked by the art historians who are really art wreckers. Listening to an art historian we feel sick, he said, by listening to an art historian we see the art he is twaddling about being ruined, with the twaddle of the art historian art shrivels and is ruined. Thousands, indeed tens of thousands of art historians wreck art by their twaddle and ruin it, he said. The art historians are the real killers of art, if we listen to an art historian we participate in the wrecking of art, wherever an art historian appears art is wrecked, that is the truth.” 5 likes
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