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The Voice Imitator

3.94 of 5 stars 3.94  ·  rating details  ·  623 ratings  ·  57 reviews
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
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Hardcover, 104 pages
Published December 22nd 1997 by University of Chicago Press (first published 1978)
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The Stand by Stephen KingThe World According to Garp by John IrvingA Swiftly Tilting Planet by Madeleine L'EngleEye of the Needle by Ken FollettRumpole of the Bailey by John Mortimer
Best Books of 1978
75th out of 84 books — 33 voters
Thirteen Reasons Why by Jay AsherThe Bell Jar by Sylvia PlathThe Virgin Suicides by Jeffrey EugenidesRomeo and Juliet by William ShakespeareThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
Suicide
413th out of 431 books — 378 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,097)
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David
Bernhard's adventures in flash fiction are a tad disappointing because most tend to rely on the same gimmick; he often begins them by mimicking the neutral, banal language of newspaper reports—identifying protagonists by profession, locality, and incident in a labyrinthine network of clauses and phrases—and then finishes with a wowie-zowie karate chop of the morbid, sensational, or absurd. Or all three at once. In some cases, this works well, but in others, you feel as though you've wandered int ...more
Lobstergirl

If Edward Gorey had been a Central European, he might have written these stories, all less than one page, filled with a spry, dark lunacy. In "Speleologists," a team of them enters an Austrian cave. When the speleologists fail to emerge on the expected date, a second team of speleologists is sent in to find them. This team also fails to emerge, and a third team is sent in. This team also fails to emerge, whereupon the authorities wall up the cave.

In "Pisa and Venice," the mayors of the two citie
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Ellie
ΣΤΗ ΡΩΜΗ
Σ'ένα νοσοκομείο της Ρώμης πέθανε η ευφυέστερη και σημαντικότερη ποιήτρια που γέννησε η χωρα μας αυτό τον αιώνα, από εγκαύματα που έπαθε μέσα στην μπανιέρα της, όπως πιστοποίησαν οι αρχές. Είχα κάνει μαζί της πολλά ταξίδια, όπου μοιράστηκα πολλές από τις φιλοσοφικές της θεωρίες, όπως επίσης τις απόψεις της για την πορεία του κόσμου και της Ιστορίας, από τη οποία ήταν τρομαγμένη ολόκληρη η ζω'η της. Πολλές προσπάθειές της να επιστρέψει στην πατρίδα της την Αυστρία κατέληγαν σε αποτυχόα εξ
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Sanja
"Neki čovek je u Acbahu ubio svoju ženu, jer je ova, po njegovom mišljenju, iz zapaljene kuće spasla pogrešno dete. Nije spasila osmogodišnjeg sina, od kojeg je njen muž želeo da stvori nešto posebno, već ćerku, koju on nije mnogo voleo. Kada su ga pred okružnim sudom u Velzeru pitali šta je nameravao sa svojim sinom, koji je potpuno izgoreo u požaru, čovek je odgovarao da je od njega želeo da napravi anarhistu, masovnog ubicu i rušioca diktature države."

Ako ikada dođete negde 30-40 minuta ranij
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Joseph Nicolello
If this book replaced The Lord of the Flies, Catcher in the Rye, Shakespeare, or whatever the hell else they teach and will continue to teach in order to indoctrinate growing minds with adolescent fantasy about the looming world of shit which is adulthood, at least the public school children could be prepared to turn on the news, or read a newspaper, or understand what is actually going to happen, and what does happen, around the world. Then, and only then, could a young person embrace Shakespea ...more
a  Lena
Stotinjak pričica čija dužina varira od jedne rečenice do jedne stranice. Priče podsjećaju na novinske članke, na mješavinu rubrika "crna hronika" i "zanimljivosti", sa samoubistvima, izdajama, nasiljem... Na momente apsurdno, na momente mračno i duhovito - tipično bernhardovska suptilna satira.
Lee
Bathroom reading, Bernhard style
Oscar
‘El imitador de voces’ es un compendio de microrrelatos publicado por Thomas Bernhard en 1978. Se trata de ciento cuatro historias breves, que van desde apenas unas líneas hasta una longitud de una página. Son textos que abarcan desde lo periodístico a lo meramente anecdótico, con notas de humor negro y mucho cinismo, pese a hablar muchas veces de verdaderas tragedias. En otras ocasiones habla desde lo absurdo o lo tierno. Pero lo que siempre hace Bernhard, es movernos a la reflexión, incluso en ...more
Tosh
Short narratives written out as newspaper items. Very original and super cynical with a certain amount of ice attached to it. Bernhard is the ultimate writer's writer. I never met a writer who was not either crazy about his writing or at least admire his work. This is my favorite of his for some reason. I think because of the style of writing and the humor that comes through it. And again it's very harsh but done in such a beautiful way.
will
Bernhard is a master of tone and his books are studies in quiet devastation. He presents here 104 stories, each less than one page, and while I usually do not like such short pieces (they are often gimmicky or shallow) this collection is brilliant. Many of the stories are taken from newspaper accounts of strange or disturbing events: suicides, murders, disappearances; and they work on each other cumulatively, creating a strange and fluid snapshot of a sick society. Bernhard highlights the ironic ...more
Nikki
I read one of these during a class -- maybe my microfiction class -- and thought I'd seek out the rest. Bernhard has a very clear, precise, hard-hitting style, for the most part. There are some verbal ticks, and some labyrinthine sentences, which may be due to his style or to the translator. They got in the way for me, particularly as the commas were not in natural places all the time.

The stories are very simple, little anecdotes, snippets from news stories real or imagined, a moment's thought c
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Manuel Gugole
Sterminio sistematico alla Bernhard.
Non sono cronache, queste, ma occhiali per l’imbecillità. Poggiati sul naso, per esempio al mattino, aprendo il quotidiano, o alla sera, poco prima del telegiornale, facilitano, per così dire, la messa a fuoco.

All’usuale ferocia martellante, Bernhard contrappone un linguaggio sobrio e puntuale, ambasciatore di atroci abissi. Brevi accenni a grotteschi destini, tracciati con la studiata superficialità rivelatrice di chi ha prima scavato con furore all’essenza d
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Aya
104 one paragraph stories, not longer than a page, almost entirely unconnected. Stories seem to be drawn from newspaper accounts, hearsay and conversation (gossip). Often told in the 1st person plural, in an unsentimental and bleak way.

Bitter, black, scornful, absurd, cynical and mad. Many times about murder, suicide, corruption (politics) and character assassination (or unappreciated 'genius' artists).

Two of the shorter stories to give you an impression:

"Hotel Waldhaus"
We had no luck with the
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Alberto Bellini
Si tratta del mio primo contatto con questo autore, assai prolifico e discusso. sicuramente l'opera in questione è minore, ma significativa. sono una serie di brevissimi fatti, abbozzi di trame. assolutamente scorrevoli e che danno l'impressione di una sostanziale superficialità perlomeno all'inizio, quasi di un divertimento. lentamente però il tono cambia, la presenza della morte, del suicidio, della pazzia, della stupidità imperante che porta ciascuno dei protagonisti al suicidio o alla fuga, ...more
Eddie Watkins
When I read some of Bernhard's books quite a few years ago I wasn't even aware that he had written anything like this - very short "stories", some almost like newspaper squibs (like Tosh mentions), but also like mysterious dark parables. In reading his novels you could get the impression that Bernhard's strength lies in his almost primal incantantory rhythms and repetitions and headlong powerful rush of words, but this book, by being almost like strobe-lit moments or still snapshots of his prose ...more
Jasminka
„Mrzim ljude, ali oni su istovremeno i razlog što živim“ - moto austrijskog pisca - mizantropa Tomasa Bernharda potvrđuje se u svakoj maloj pričici u ovoj zbirci. Ali, ta mržnja nije usmjerena samo ka ljudima, već i prema svakoj ljudskoj tvorevini, pre svega državi. Te male priče, minijaturne ponekad, više liče na kratke, novinske vesti istrgnute iz crne hronike, bizarne, banalne, morbidno duhovite a sve njih povezuje neka vrsta ludila. Interesantna knjiga koja se brzo čita i otvara nova pitanja ...more
Paul Fulcher
A relatively easy introduction to Thomas Bernhard but one that doesn't capture the full power of his work.

This is almost micro-fiction, 100 stories each told on at most one page, often significantly shorter.

The black humour of Thomas Bernhard's work is very much present - indeed some were laugh-out-loud funny - but it doesn't really capture the full force of his novels with the repetitive hammer blows of their convuluted sentences and unremittingly black, but still darkly humorous, prose, usual
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M.
Okuduğum ilk Thomas Bernhard kitabı ve bu sayede bütün kitaplarını okuma listeme aldım. Öykü meraklıları için birebir.
Bu kitabın temasını, ölüm, akıl hastalığı, intihar ve yolculuk oluşturuyor.
Indi_book
Bernhard en distancias cortas. Sucesión de relatos breves, a lo sumo una carilla. Algunos de una genialidad comparable a los cuentos cortos de Cortázar.
Knar
Some of these were more striking than others. But, a handful of bits & ends of interest:

PHOTO-STYLE FRAMING: Each story is contained within a single page. One cannot help but think that there is a request being made: Read as you would see or look at an image or photo. Survey the (document/)content(/"evidence"); supply any necessary extrapolation.

OPACITY: The Voice Imitator establishes an interesting relationship between looking and "character". While it's often the case that a given char
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Jared Della Rocca
The worst of the stories are "Meh" the best are phenomenal. I'd hesitate to say the stories are "morbid" although they all deal with death, lunacy, or their ilk in some way. But it's the prosaic way Bernhard writes the stories as if the extreme events are ho-hum mundane that make the stories so good. It's as if they came out of your local newspaper, page B4. Highly recommend checking it out.
John
In Thomas Bernhard's most capable hands, the 104 stories that comprise "The Voice Imitator" are succinct, often mesmerizing, tales recounted from genuine newspaper headlines and articles. These tales are quite literally, prose haiku, miniature essays recounting foibles of artists, politicians, scientists, and others from all walks of life. They may also seem like brief outlines for some as yet unpublished great novel, but Bernhard has packed so much detail that readers will recognize these as st ...more
k
The more impersonal narration of these vignettes makes them funnier than his novels, and there are some interesting ideas to draw out of what becomes to seem like repetitive style, like about how what we deem insane those things that make us feel insane. This book makes me feel insane, but that doesn't make it insane.
Stephen Durrant
The Austrian Thomas Bernhard's collection of 104 "stories," perhaps more properly branded "microfiction." These exceedingly short pieces, some no more than a sentence or two, are filled with Berhard's favorite themes of madness, suicide, misunderstanding, and political stupidity. His world view is an exceedingly pessimistic one, but the ironic turns of these stories, some that read like little more than a strange news account, surprise and sometimes amuse . . . although the humor is always excee ...more
Emmett
A collection of what we'd now call (ugh) flash fiction, which ultimately serves to demonstrate Kafka's influence on Bernhard; these stories are very much in the mode of many of K's 'parables'. That said, they're of varying quality, and their stark minimalism runs against the long sentence (albeit a long sentence marked by a minimalism of repetition) that was Bernhard's trademark. Look, compared to Bernhard's best work, this is inessential, but, were it written by anyone else, it'd be a masterwor ...more
Wozzeck
Bernhard'ın diğer kitapları kadar iyi olmasa da okumaya değer. Ama Bernhard'la tanışmak için en yanlış kitap, benden söylemesi.
David
Well, at this point the 5 stars is no big surprise. But this is actually a great book for being introduced to Bernhard. 104 stories, none of them longer than a page, some only two or three sentences. Most of them are fabulous, and a great introduction to Bernhard and his strange style and obsessions. And as you would expect there's also a great cumulative effect as you work your way through.

It is also true that the paperback version from U of Chicago Press is really lovely, with great paper and
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Justin
A collection of 104 one-paragraph stories in which most of the characters commit suicide or murder or are themselves killed, mostly for reasons that are either banal or absurd. That probably sounds depressing, and there are a few instances in which they are, but they're often funny (not laugh-out-loud so much as ironic) mostly they're fantastic, compact, philosophical looks at the human condition and what drives us to do our worst. A better title for the book would actually have been "In the Nat ...more
evan
Bernhard works best expansively. The journalistic voice here allows little fever or rage to squeak through, though I love the attacks on Austria toward the end. (For full disclosure, I am 1/8 Austrian and have visited that "common hell" twice.) Maybe this is Bernhard's homage to newspapers, which he read with an appetite not likely to be encountered again in even the greasiest hour at the Sacher. I only laughed out loud once. The elevator full of pushy Egyptian Baudelairians had fallen.
Jim
Aug 19, 2007 Jim rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Lovers of flash fiction.
Anyone who has read a few of my reviews will see that I have a penchant for short works of fiction. I bought this on a trip to San Francisco thinking that it would be perfect for the flight home, 104 little stories most less than a page in length, some only a few lines in length.

They are variable pieces, dark and comic but it's hard to read them one after another and that's the book's weakness. The problem is the stories are quite good and it's hard just to read a couple at a time.
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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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“Unfulfilled Wish

A woman in Atzbach was murdered by her husband because, in his opinion, she had carried the wrong child with her to safety from their burning house. She had not saved their eight-year old son, for whom the man had special plans, but had saved their daughter, who was not loved by the husband. When the husband was asked, in the District Court in Wels, what plans he had had for his son, who had been completely consumed by the fire, the husband replied that he had intended him to be an anarchist and a mass murderer of dictatorships and thus a destroyer of the state.”
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“Hotel Waldhaus

We had no luck with the weather and the guests at our table were repellent in every respect. They even ruined Nietzsche for us. Even after they had had a fatal car accident and had been laid out in the church in Sils, we still hated them.”
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