Madhuri's Reviews > Wittgenstein's Nephew

Wittgenstein's Nephew by Thomas Bernhard
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's review
Aug 16, 2011

really liked it
bookshelves: german, memento-mori, memories
Read from August 16 to 19, 2011

Everything Thomas Bernhard writes has a consciousness of death, owing to his own poor health. He often talks of illness, weakness, sanitariums and mortality. So in a work written/published close to his death, it is not surprising that death finds a prominent place. Through describing a friend's last days, Bernhard describes the decay that death brings, how friend recede in the face of it and how life force vanishes much before the physical death sets in.
However, an awareness of death also makes the life before it intense. Bernhard describes it in his and his friend's acute interest in the arts, the inexhaustible visits to the opera or concerts, the endless discussions on performances. So much so that both friends feel alive only in the city ( which offers these intellectual stimulations) and abhor countryside, which they think deadens the brain.
It is a remarkable prose, which does not feel like fiction but a memoir, and reading it is apparent to see why parallels are drawn between Sebald and Thomas Bernhard. They both remove the line dividing fact and fiction, memories and imaginations.

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