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Concrete

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4.13  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,290 Ratings  ·  126 Reviews
Instead of the book he's meant to write, Rudolph, a Viennese musicologist, produces this tale of procrastination, failure, and despair, a dark and grotesquely funny story of small woes writ large and profound horrors detailed and rehearsed to the point of distraction.

"Certain books—few—assert literary importance instantly, profoundly. This new novel by the internationally
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Paperback, 156 pages
Published June 15th 1986 by University Of Chicago Press (first published 1982)
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Postmodern Genius
101st out of 440 books — 429 voters
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Best Austrian Literature
104th out of 217 books — 104 voters


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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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s.penkevich
Jul 31, 2013 s.penkevich rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Your bitter side
Recommended to s.penkevich by: Garima
For years I have lived in this state of self-condemnation, self-abnegation and self-mockery, in which ultimately I always have to take refuge in order to save myself.

I find it a bit ironic that I’ve been having such a difficult time beginning this review, a review for a book narrated by an aging man who has watched ten years flick by as he has attempted to write the first sentence for his own book. Thomas Bernhard’s Concrete is a darkly comical, spiraling plunge into the mind and soul of it’s na
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Steve
Dec 02, 2013 Steve rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Steve by: Garima
Template for Review Writing

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Garima
I’m going to say that I am an observer of myself, which is stupid, since I am my own observer anyway: I’ve actually been observing myself for years, if not for decades; my life now consists only of self-observation and self-contemplation, which naturally leads to self-condemnation, self-rejection and self-mockery, in which ultimately I always have to take refuge in order to save myself.
I knew it would happen. I knew that whatever little I missed on my first outing with Bernhard would no long
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David
The World of Thomas Bernhard is one populated almost exclusively by obsessive losers. These are the kind of hair-pulling people who hunker down for years at a time in a single musty room in some rambling country manor bemoaning their fate or fretting about countless things, including but not limited to the stupidity or cruelty of others, the general horribleness of Austria, or accomplishing some esoteric goal. In other words, except for the anti-Austria sentiment, Bernhard was a man who spoke my ...more
Eddie Watkins
Sep 29, 2014 Eddie Watkins rated it it was amazing
Shelves: german-fiction
Some years ago a colleague of mine suggested I read Thomas Bernhard, and in the random impetuousness of my callow youth I read, no, devoured, a number of his novels without first devising a method of “attack”, for whenever I first encounter an author it has been my practice, since my early days in the gymnasium if not before, to proceed systematically so as to maximize my experience and avoid any need to read through authors again, since it is my belief that every artist’s (and I do consider nov ...more
Mariel
Feb 12, 2011 Mariel rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: heaven knows I'm miserable now
Recommended to Mariel by: David
Morrissey said about James Dean, "He was incredibly miserable and obviously doomed. People who feel this are quite special." I thought about this quote for some reason about Rudolph from Concrete. (I couldn't remember the word "rockabilly" and searched Morrissey fashions. "Something something billy. Banana fanna fo billy!" Didn't help. [My twin is more helpful than google.] This quote came up. That's honestly how it happened. I like to trace trains of thought. It's an exhausting and preventive h ...more
Szplug
Feb 22, 2011 Szplug rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
It is always a pleasant experience to be able to immediately recognize one's surroundings when you enter into a literary work by an author you are familiar with. In Concrete this was provided by the opening announcement of the narrator, Rudolf, that [a] he was suffering considerably from the effects of an illness, one for which he thankfully was in possession of the requisite pharmaceuticals required to ameliorate the condition; [b] a family member of a decidedly malicious bent who seemed to fun ...more
William1
Apr 08, 2014 William1 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
An Austrian musicologist has been trying to begin work on a book about a favorite composer for ten years, but he's blocked. He lives in a rather grand family house bequeathed to him by his parents. He's the most equivocating, self-contradictory man on earth. He hates his sister, despises the Viennese social life and business career she's made for herself, but at the same time he loves her and believes her correct in everything she says. He extends this vacillation to himself and his projects, th ...more
Nickolas the Kid
Ο Ρούντολφ είναι ένας σκεπτόμενος και προβληματισμένος άνθρωπος. Προσπαθεί να γράψει εδώ και δέκα χρόνια μια μελέτη για τον μουσικοσυνθέτη Μέντελσον...

Ο Μπέρνχαρντ μας δίνει έναν φιλοσοφικό μονόλογο σφιχτοδεμένο και συμπαγή σαν μπετόν...
Ο πρωταγωνιστής πνίγεται, αηδιάζει, κουράζεται από την υποκρισία και την "ασχήμια" του κόσμου. Σταδιακά απομονώνεται στον εαυτό του βρίσκοντας σαν δικαιολογία την ολοκλήρωση της μελέτης του.. Οι χαρακτήρες φωτίζονται όσο ακριβώς χρειάζεται για να καταλάβουμε την
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Carmo Santos
Feb 15, 2015 Carmo Santos rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: austria
Dei-lhe 4* porque deixou-me, literalmente, agoniada no final. Talvez mereça 5*, há que reconhecer em T. Bernhard a genialidade da escrita; em cento e poucas páginas de narrativa tensa, sem interrupções, traçou todo o absurdo de uma vida aprisionada no medo, no pessimismo e na contradição. No início até que lhe encontrei alguma piada, mas aos poucos a ansiedade tomou conta de mim perante a dimensão do desequilíbrio da personagem do seu pessimismo e indecisão.
Um livro que nos envolve assim tem que
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Chris_P
Feb 04, 2016 Chris_P rated it really liked it
When we have sentences in our heads we still can’t be certain of being able to get them down on paper, I thought. The sentences frighten us; first the idea frightens us, then the sentence, then the thought that we may no longer have the idea in our heads when we want to write it down. Very often we write down a sentence too early, then another too late; what we have to do is to write it down at the proper time, otherwise it’s lost.

Concrete is a rather difficult, deep, philosophical novel. The
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Troy
Mar 06, 2014 Troy rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Oh, Bernhard, I love you so much. No one understands hateful bastards the way you understand hateful bastards. Self-important, narcissistic, overly-privileged, autodidact pricks mulling about and neurotically focusing on their illnesses and their annoyances and, oh, I'm not going to make it to middle age, and how I hate everyone; nothing but dwarfed intellectual nitwits, con-artists, and delusional thieves in our depraved world. Yes, I feel the same way. And when I read you, I often reflect and ...more
Janice
Aug 02, 2012 Janice rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Initially, I rated this as “five stars,” but have since demoted it to four, because my knee-jerk reaction was that I should have loved it, and that I would have loved it. This seems to be a classic case of “the right book at the wrong time.” You see, I had just read (and loved) Woodcutters back in June, this thus being my second foray into the Bernhard canon. I think it was too soon to read this after reading Woodcutters, because it was too similar, even down to some of the phrasing, which frank ...more
M. Sarki
Mar 12, 2014 M. Sarki rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
http://msarki.tumblr.com/post/7938337...

It is almost impossible to write a critical review of a book I read almost twenty years ago and now am attempting to read again after having been philosophically and physically altered so dramatically from the person I was way back then. In 1996 I was a first-year student of the infamous fiction-writing teacher Gordon Lish and it was he who had informed me of the great work of Thomas Bernhard. I did not keep a journal from that period so I am hard-pressed
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James
Mar 12, 2014 James rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Bernhard’s novels, taken together, form a kind of modern Iliad, only there are no competing military factions, there are only degrees of sanity and clarity, and what is lost is the intuitive balance and immediacy of old that had once led to the creation of inspired masterpieces, works which for Bernhard represent the Eden we’ve all been cast out of, and which we cannot return to save by approximation; that is exactly what his novels are: approximations to the dead and gone who still haunt us and ...more
Nathanimal
Rudolf, the rav-ing luftmensch,
Wrote a very whiny prose.
And if you ever read it . . .

Okay okay, don't be dumb. This book deserves better. This book spoke to me. In fact, this book was me on many levels. How very sad. For me. Rudolf's ravings were feverishly musical and hilarious and, by the end, devastating. Rudolf is a luftmensch, to use a term from Bernhard's mother tongue. His pursuits are decidedly abstract. You get the feeling he's avoiding something. "Luftmensch" means an kind of artsy, hi
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Justin Evans
Dec 11, 2013 Justin Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
Three books in and it's fairly clear that Bernhard doesn't write books so much as he cuts off sausages from a long sausage tube of anger, disgust, self-disgust, irony, sincerity, satire and self-righteousness. This was more enjoyable than The Loser and Gathering Evidence, in large part because the irony/sincerity levels were a bit more in keeping with, you know, basic human intelligence. There's less of the foolishness that you get in Gathering Evidence, and more humor than The Loser. E.g.,

"Peo
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Jessica
May 18, 2014 Jessica rated it really liked it
Recommends it for: procrastinators; complainers
Recommended to Jessica by: douglas
This droning, paragraphless trek through the sludge of a hate-filled, pathetic, sickly-and-depressive-Austrian-Mr.-Burns-with-intellectual-aspirations-who's-obsessed-with-his-sister-type narrator's mind should be a total downer, but instead it's weirdly elating. Somehow the distillation of all this odious, self-defeating, self-inflicted, and yes, disturbingly close-to-home misery has an invigorating comic effect that can make the reader feel positively perky. This isn't schadenfreude; it's somet ...more
AC
Nov 09, 2011 AC rated it it was amazing
A remarkably varied and intricate book, despite its being so short and claustophobic...

A mix of Kafka, Proust, Notes from the Underground, and something much more modern and existential... Quite surprising.... I will have to read more Bernhard before I can know what I've just read.
Joseph
Sep 13, 2015 Joseph rated it it was amazing
People think this is rage? It's neurosis, upper-class neurosis, very upper-class, artistic neurosis. Bernhard, sorry, Rudolf, detests modern conductors! and also their orchestras. Oh my. He prefers to sit at home and read the sheet music. Yes, yes. He can hear it better in his head. Such problems.Hates dogs too, and dog lovers. Hates charity and lack of it; rich and poor. Hates the present, and every single thing in Austria. There are some things that are tolerable elsewhere though. He hates the ...more
Oscar
May 29, 2014 Oscar rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: míos, mainstream, drama
‘Hormigón’ (1982), del austriaco Thomas Bernhard, tiene como protagonista y narrador a Rudolf, que vive enfermo y aislado del exterior. Su obsesión, encontrar esa primera línea que dé pie a un ensayo sobre Mendelssohn. Pero Rudolf es incapaz de encontrar un comienzo, y por eso, incapaz de finalizar dicho ensayo, con el que ya lleva años de preparación. Y las continuas visitas y críticas de su hermana no ayudan, al contrario, le interrumpen sus pensamientos y su manera de trabajar. Ante tal agota ...more
Stephen Durrant
Sep 28, 2010 Stephen Durrant rated it really liked it
I can never get enough of Thomas Bernhard's obsessive, confused, desperate, lonely, semi-mad narrators! "Concrete" on one level is a study of writer's block. The narrator has been planning for ten years to start a work on the composer Mendelssohn, but he just can't get the first sentence written . . . for a whole variety of reasons. His frustration leads to a series of typical Berhardian rants, which include an attack on the incredible selfishness of dog-owners, the general stupidity of Austrian ...more
Ken
Interestingly enough, I thought of Elmore Leonard while reading this book. Because Leonard just died, the newspapers are awash with tributes and such. One New York Times piece contained a link to his Ten Rules for Writers. Here's #10:

"Try to leave out the part that readers tend to skip.

"A rule that came to mind in 1983. Think of what you skip reading a novel: thick paragraphs of prose you can see have too many words in them. What the writer is doing, he's writing, perpetrating hooptedoodle, perh
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Brad Young
Nov 06, 2007 Brad Young rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Gaddis fans, anyone that loved the film Adaptation, those seeking the unique
Shelves: favorites
Bernhard is amazing, inspiring. His writing is, in a word: relentless. It's been a couple years, but I remember Concrete as a meditation on creation anxiety and the paralysis of extreme self-absorbtion. There is no escape for the protagonist. His obsessions have permanently distanced him from the world and made connecting with others impossible. He spends the whole novel failing to begin his work. I imagine this novel as Bernhard's escape from his own obsessions and an attempt at communion. His ...more
Adam Floridia
I only read the first paragraph of this and just didn't enjoy it; paradoxically, I finished the entire book and also didn't enjoy it.

Not a scathing "I Hated it" one-star, just an "I didn't like it" one star. First person monologue from a character who's vapid, hypocritical, delusional, depressed, narcissistic, solipsized, incompetent, lazy, a member of the idle rich; and somehow I just couldn't find it palatable.
Tosh
May 25, 2008 Tosh rated it it was amazing
Right now working on a book, and this is a very dangerous novel to have in front of you. About a writer writing his book and how it goes off... in different territory. A masterful writer and often considered to be a writer's writer. But whatever he's great. It's as simple as that.
Bianca
Mar 29, 2007 Bianca rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: frustrated misanthrope
Feeling frustrated writing your book about Mendelsohn? Hate your family? Ever been confused and on the brink of a nervous breakdown? Than this book is for you. Beautifully written and interesting.
Fred
Apr 01, 2008 Fred rated it it was amazing
A hyper-neurotic and sprawling 200 page paragraph. Brilliant.
Lisa
Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989) has no less than six entries in 1001 Books You Must Read Before You Die (2006 edition), and now that I’ve read Concrete (1982) I am certainly going to read the others: Correction, Extinction, Old Masters , Wittgenstein’s Nephew and Yes. From what I read of his profile at Wikipedia the author is widely considered to be one of the most important German-speaking authors of the postwar era but was Austria’s Bad Boy, continually writing novels and plays that were hyper-cri ...more
Neva
Dec 22, 2012 Neva rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Из архивите - рецензия за в. "Гласове".

Книга, която се съпротивлява
"Изличаване", Томас Бернхард, превод Александър Андреев, "Атлантис – КЛ", 2007 г.

Да бях огън, щях да изгоря света,/ да бях вихрушка, щях да го отвея,/ да бях вода, щях да го потопя,/ Господ да бях, щях да го пратя в дън земята... / Да бях смъртта, баща си щях да посетя,/ да бях животът, щях да го напусна./ И същото бих сторил с мойта майка.
Чеко Анджолиери (Сиена, 1260-1312)

Надали има друг съвременен писател с толкова недоброжелат
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When does the plot take place? 1 20 Aug 19, 2012 02:40PM  
  • Jakob von Gunten
  • The Sleepwalkers
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  • The Island of Second Sight
  • Morbus Kitahara
  • The Melancholy of Resistance
  • The Quest for Christa T.
  • The Confusions of Young Törless
  • The Ship
  • Death In Rome
  • Memoirs of an Anti-Semite
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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.

Although internationally he's most acclaimed because of his novels, he was also a prolific playwright. His characters were oftenly working in a lifetime and never-ending major work while they deal with themes such as suicide, madness and obsession and, as B
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“Whatever condition we are in, we must always do what we want to do, and if we want to go on a journey, then we must do so and not worry about our condition, even if it's the worst possible condition, because, if it is, we're finished anyway, whether we go on the journey or not, and it's better to die having made the journey we're been longing for than to be stifled by our longing.” 82 likes
“Very often we write down a sentence too early, then another too late; what we have to do is write it down at the proper time, otherwise it's lost.” 38 likes
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