Wittgenstein's Nephew
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Wittgenstein's Nephew

4.15 of 5 stars 4.15  ·  rating details  ·  1,348 ratings  ·  109 reviews
It is 1967. In separate wings of a Viennese hospital, two men lie bedridden. The narrator, named Thomas Bernhard, is stricken with a lung ailment; his friend Paul, nephew of the celebrated philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, is suffering from one of his periodic bouts of madness. As their once-casual friendship quickens, these two eccentric men begin to discover in each other...more
Hardcover, 100 pages
Published January 15th 1989 by Knopf (first published 1989)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.
This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
William
A highly readable work of dazzling intensity. The novella is based in part on a true story: author Bernhard's friendship with philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein's grand nephew, Paul. Prepare yourself for a blast of intellectually dense but very compelling--and funny--writing. The book is at bottom a great howl of rage against death. Bernhard in his day (1931-1989) was perhaps Austria's most controversial novelist/playwright. The narrator, based on Bernhard, and his familiar, Paul Wittgenstein, shar...more
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Fick! What started out as the cause of me once again whining under my breath about Bernhard's head-clubbing repetition slowly evolved into a rewarding, mist upon the eyes causing, scrupulous bloodletting of Bernhard's personal guilt, nostalgia, and self-reflection resulting from the passing of his closest friend, literally Wittgenstein's nephew, Paul Wittgenstein. Paul was, as Bernhard and various Mental Health Professionals proclaimed, a certifiable Madman. However, Paul argued he was at least...more
David
A quickie review, so put on your non-porous splash suit and buckle yourself in. Eschewing his emblematic deranged, run-on style, Bernhard serves up Wittgenstein's Nephew as both a eulogy of his friend Paul Wittgenstein, the famed philosopher's mentally unbalanced nephew, and a bleak rumination on death -- or more pointedly, the slow, surreptitious death that constitutes life. If you know someone who is despairing about about his or her physical deterioration and impending death, do not be so tho...more
James
Making sense of the world is difficult stuff. Whether you start from the cosmos and work your way back to the self, or vis-versa, the thought of how things happen or why things exist at all remains insolubly complex. Most of us are either too caught up in the everyday exigencies of life or simply can't be bothered to give the mysteries our full attention. But what if you couldn’t stop thinking about such things? What if you were constantly, manically shifting the focus away from the humdrum and...more
M. Sarki
http://msarki.tumblr.com/post/7864075...

This is one of those Bernhard books that most devotees say they loved but speak little about why or how it happened. Those who do are predictable in their comments regarding Bernhard's plot, his friendships, judgments, and in general, death. Nothing wrong with either approach, but it just doesn't get the uninitiated where she needs to be. This particular Bernhard tale is quite unlike anything else he has written. Almost easier to stomach the vitriol and ra...more
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Had this not been part fiction I would have unhesitatingly called its author, Thomas Bernhard, insane. Or, at the very least, a difficult, incomprehensible eccentric. He writes here about his friend Paul Wittgenstein, a nephew of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein whose philosophy of language I studied in college but never understood. To Thomas Bernhard both Ludwig and Paul were mad philosophers, the only difference between them being that Ludwig was published and became famous while Paul never...more
Gary
this is the first Bernhard book I've read. I was made aware of him by listening to an interview of W.G. Sebald. in it he mentioned that Bernhard was his mentor. if he helped Sebald find his voice, he must be special or maybe not. I was not disappointed . this is a raw-honest telling of his relationship with Paul Wittgenstein, nephew of Ludwig. it is about facing death, the cruel reality of aging, and the frailty of our minds and bodies. sounds like a real bummer of a book, eh. yet it is not, tot...more
Islam
مقتطف/ صداقة
............
قلت لنفسى وأنا أجلس فوق دكة فى منتزه المدينة، إن هذه ربما تكون آخر مرة أرى فيها صديقى. لم أكن اعتقد أن جسدا بهذا الوهن، خبت فيه جذوة الحياة وانطفأت شعلة الإرادة، سيتحمل أكثر من بضعة أيام. زُلزل كيانى لرؤيته هكذا يعانى الوحدة فجأة، هذا الإنسان الذى هو بسليقته إنسان اجتماعى، كما يقولون، منذ مولده وحتى بلوغه، وظل اجتماعيا إلى أن أمسى كهلا ثم شيخا. ثم خطر على بالى كيف تعرّفت إلى هذا الإنسان الذى أضحى بالفعل صديقى، الذى طالما أسعدَ وجودى غاية السعادة، هذا الوجود الذى لم يكن با...more
John
Oct 10, 2008 John rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who like a laugh, a shock, a challenge
Recommended to John by: maybe Donald Barthelme
Call it the contra-convalescent novel, in which laughter is the worst medicine & yet we can't help sticking out our arms for a fresh shot, because anyway it hurts more to be up on your feet than laid out in a hospital. Or is this a novella? WITTGENSTEIN'S NEPHEW has no chapter breaks, anyway, nor paragraph breaks either. As its shaggy-dog cynicism & worldliness spools out, the work may even rise to the technical challenge of carving out a new late-20th-Century form. This thing of darknes...more
Jimmy
a 100 page book consisting of 1 paragraph should not be this enjoyable to read (I read it in a day), especially without any kind of intriguing plot, flashy language or the like. But Bernhard's subtle writing style draws you in, always interesting and often hilarious, without appearing like he is trying all that hard to be. Most of all, it's the line of thought in this book that is the most impressive to me, the way it moves from thought to thought like a very good poem. I will definitely read mo...more
Troy
Bernhard with a smile... of sorts. This is almost Bernhard-lite. There's still the one-paragraph-book, still the despair, anguish, hatred for humanity (which includes, of course, Bernhard), focus on the base elements of our nature, and the bile, the endlessly spewing bile. But it is all leavened by the nature of the story, which is about Bernhard's brilliant and doomed friend who is Wittgenstein's nephew and equally as brilliant as Ludwig Wittgenstein, even if he never put his brilliant thoughts...more
Rob
Sep 04, 2007 Rob rated it 4 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who think it's funny to hate life
Shelves: fiction
this book consists of a single paragraph. it's only 100 pages long, but that's still a pretty long paragraph.

it's kind of a prose poem, so it's sort of interesting that i actually enjoyed it in translation, since i often don't like translations at all. He uses a lot of repetition, and some people might find the style annoying, but i liked it.

basically, it's about his friendship with Paul Wittgenstein, who was the nephew of Ludwig Wittgenstein. He talks a lot about paul's madness and his own lung...more
Stephen
The power of Thomas Bernhard's repetitive, obsessed, hard-driving prose enthralls me. Entering his novels, almost always written as a single paragraph, is to enter a disturbed but incredibly rich mind. Usually the narrator of his works seems not far removed from the author himself, and in this case, where the narrator is actually named "Thomas Bernhard," one seems squarely in the realm of autobiography. This is a story of friendship between two sick people: Thomas Bernhard, who has a serious pul...more
matt

I picked this up because I'd read Berhard's "The Loser" already and the same friend who had leant it to me suggested I check out another Berhard joint.

Part of the reason he interests me is because he is so consistently praised and oohed and ahhed over by (at least what I see of) the current literary establishment. So many people suggest that he is (or, more specifically, was) one of the very best of contemporary world writers that I suppose it would be poor form to neglect his work.

Plus, it...more
Juan Pablo
Feb 26, 2012 Juan Pablo rated it 5 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Juan Pablo by: Conrado
En pocas páginas Bernhard desarrolla un relato extraordinario sobre su particular amigo Paul Wittgenstein, vástago descarriado de esta famosa familia, internado recurrentemente por sus síntomas de locura. Entre otras cosas, nos hace reflexionar sobre varias cosas: la esttrecha línea que nos separa de la locura, el valor de una amistad (la fidelidad de los verdaderos amigos aún cuando todo el resto de la sociedad onos da la espalda), los pequeños momentos que pueden justificar soportar toda la vi...more
شادي  عبد العزيز
من الصعب وصف توماس برنهارد بالإنسان المحبب أو الإنسان البسيط، ومن الصعب حُب إنسان يصيح في أذنك طيلة الوقت: هذا قرف، هذا قرف، هذا قرف، حتى وإن كانت تعيش حقيقةً في مزبلة، ولكن الحقيقة أن الكتاب نفسه كتاب مكتوب بجمال، ولو كان موضوعه كل هذا القرف، وكل هذه العقد النفسية للكاتب وصديقه، وقد أحببت الكتاب جداً.

الترجمة كذلك من أجمل الترجمات التي طالعتها في الفترة الأخيرة، شكراً سمير جريس.
Ben Eldridge
I can't believe this has such a high average rating... Wittgenstein's Nephew is one of the most pretentious - and dull - books I have encountered in my travels through art and life. It's a novella written in one 100-page paragraph that acts as a semi-autobiographical eulogy to Thomas Bernhard's friend - Ludwig Wittgenstein's nephew - Paul Wittgenstein. The majority of the book is horrendously repetitious, and the unchecked privilege and pomposity of Bernhard (the character) is really hard to swa...more
Richard
Emotional instability has a strong genetic component.
Lee
the key to all of Bernhard is on the last page.
AC
Fascinating little book
Oscar
Esta es la historia de una amistad, la de Thomas Bernhard y Paul Wittgenstein. Thomas conoció a Paul a través de Irina, una amiga mutua, y pronto se vio que compartían opinión sobre muchos temas, como por ejemplo su amor por la música, de la que Paul es gran experto, sobre todo en óperas. Un momento importante en esta relación fue cuando ambos supieron que estaban ingresados en el mismo hospital, pero en distintos pabellones. Thomas estaba en el pabellón Hermann, dedicado a los enfermos de pulmó...more
Daisy
Nov 18, 2013 Daisy rated it 5 of 5 stars
Recommended to Daisy by: Merisi
I know someone who has read this five or six times. It's her favorite book.
It could be a celebration of unprejudiced, accepting friendship or a eulogy or a purging of guilt. It deals with sickness, euphoria, aging, city vs, country, society, money, poverty, music, theater, motor racing... The respect Thomas and Paul have for each other, the progress of their friendship, their own parallels, their respective places in society and in their families, that's the main stuff of this book.
For me, I am...more
Jeremy
Bernhard does a good job of showing how his friend's and his own physical/psychological illnesses and their disgust with Austria in general resonate and reflect off of each other. In other words, you can see why they are friends. But beyond their status as a couple of alienated, unhealthy and misanthropic outsiders, I had a hard time really getting much out of it. Aside from the fact that Austria is (according to Bernhard) evidently full of the most servile, willfully ignorant, culturally dead p...more
Patty
I really disliked this book. It was like being at a cocktail party and getting stuck talking to someone who is really really really smug and self-satisfied, mainly because they know someone who was related to someone, and then just keeps emphatically insisting that the person they knew was just so terribly interesting and crazy and really emphatically interesting, and how terribly much they had in common with each other, but doesn't even give one single interesting story or description. And then...more
Jafar
Another novel by Bernhard comprising of only one paragraph. Didn’t find it as good as The Loser. This one is apparently autobiographical. Paul Wittgenstein, Ludwig Wittgenstein’s nephew, has an undisclosed mental illness and is about to die. Death and madness. Yes, not very cheerful.

I was put off with Bernhard’s constant berating of Austria and its alleged vanity and hypocrisy – and I don’t feel one way or another about Austria. I found all those disparaging remarks about Austria as out-of-plac...more
Axolotl
This is not the kind of novel I feel one can "spoil" in the usual sense of the word but to be on the safe side: don't read the "two brief observations" below, if you haven't already read the book--you'll be happier if you don't.

Bernhard is not content to simply relate a "touching" memoir of a dear friendship--it is important that a true friendship be remembered in all honesty. I believe that this was very important also to Herr Bernhard when writing about his friendship with Paul Wittgenstein, t...more
Petja
Внимание! Четенето на Томас Бернхард води до пристрастяване. Не знам дали всички, които го четат, откриват себе си в него или аз съм попаднала на сродна душа, която ме изговаря.

"Племенникът на Витгенщайн" и "Старите майстори" засега са ми най-любимите негови, пък и изобщо най-любими.
Tosh
A writer's writer, Thomas Bernhard in this short novel (one mega-paragraph) goes into a friendship that is both intense and cynical. Based on Wittgenstein's nephew Paul (who i think is a real character) and Bernhard's meeting at a hospital. Great social place those hospitals...
Marc L
A longue monologue by Bernhard himself about his former best friend Paul Wittgenstein, passed away a few years earlier, and cousin of the famous philosopher Ludwig. It's a kind of a funeral speech, with a very personal portrait of Paul, rather harsh in his depiction of the sickness and deprivation at the end, but very fragmented and diffuse, so that you can have doubts about their friendship. Bernhard asks himself the same question, but nevertheless he must conclude that Paul had a very wholesom...more
Isaí Moreno
Obrita densa y hermosa, resultado del genio de Bernhard para sintetizar una vida. Cada que la releo vuelvo a creer en la literatura.
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 99 100 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
  • Malina
  • Vertigo
  • Jakob von Gunten
  • The Sleepwalkers
  • Fräulein Else
  • The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick
  • The Confusions of Young Törless
  • The Radetzky March  (Von Trotta Family #1)
  • Geschichten aus dem Wiener Wald
  • The Lord Chandos Letter: And Other Writings
  • I'm Not Stiller
  • The Last World
  • The Torch in My Ear
  • The Notebooks of Malte Laurids Brigge
  • An Episode in the Life of a Landscape Painter
7745
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...
The Loser Woodcutters Correction Concrete Old Masters

Share This Book

“I avoid literature whenever possible, because whenever possible I avoid myself...” 16 likes
“I know nothing about nature. I hate nature, because it is killing me.” 6 likes
More quotes…