Jesse K's Reviews > Thomas Bernhard: The Making of an Austrian

Thomas Bernhard by Gitta Honegger
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Nov 18, 2011

it was amazing
bookshelves: read-2011
Read from November 16 to 18, 2011

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Charles Kell Let me know how this is, Jesse, I'm curious.


Jesse K I'm a little bit over halfway through. The book seems to be trying to do 3 things:

-presenting a scholarly analysis of his works and mapping out their Freudian/Wittgensteinian(?)/etc aspects
-relating his work to Austria itself, which the author, one of his translators, feels is necessary to full understand him
-relating his work to his own life

I would have probably preferred a straight up biography that included the necessary info on Austria and left the analysis to the reader. However, whether one opts to fully take them as 100 percent certain, the author does give the reader a variety of interesting potential views of Bernhard.

It has also answered the question that I had thrown at you awhile back: Was he as much of a crazy dick as his books seem to suggest? The answer seems to be that, yes, he was, but he was also hilarious and informal on many occasions too.

So far, the focus has been on his plays. Many that are not even published here and the few that are get summarized and dissected. It would seem that Bernhard was far more edgy on the stage as an experimental playwright. Given that there isn't much else to read by him that I haven't already tackled, other than the plays, it was good to get this preview.

Overall, the scholarly nature of the book would turn most people off and the book wouldn't even be worth reading as a bio, unless one had already read a large portion of Bernhard's work. (meaning: most people should skip it, but you will probably want to read it. (So, if it isn't in your Uni library, let me know, and I lend you my copy via mail the next time that I go to the post office to do a book mailing.))

All that aside, hopefully someone does an English bio that concentrates on his life and isn't so turgid/scholastic, eventually.


Charles Kell Jesse, Thanks for the great synopsis of the book. Sounds good. Yeah, I've sadly come to the end of Bernhard's novels as well. Started to order some of the plays--have The World-Fixer here now--and will work my way through them. Still have Gathering Evidence too. Extinction is so good, right? Talk to you soon.


Jesse K I think Extinction is my favorite, either that or Woodcutters. I'm looking forward to his autobio. It is coming back out, with My Prizes, on the 29th; and the book above makes it sound like it might be his masterpiece(s (it was 5 seperate books in Austrial)).


Charles Kell Extinction mat be his "magnum-opus." I love Correction but Extinction is so much more reader friendly and doesn't induce the hysteria that Correction does. I recently ordered a book by Bernhard called On the Mountain; it's supposed to be one of his earliest stabs at the novel. Cheers


Jesse K I read that one. It's sub-Cheap Eaters in terms of quality and it's also quite a bit more avant than his later stuff, but the voice is already there. I got the Voice Imitator in the mail today (104 short stories in 104 pages). I wanted to read it immediately, but I'm making myself wait a bit. Bernhard is usually incredibly long winded, so it is going to be weird reading these little concise one page stories by him.


Charles Kell The Voice Imitator is really good. It's strange how Bernhard can pull off the short, flash fiction but damn he does it.


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