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Alte Meister

4.10  ·  Rating details ·  2,110 ratings  ·  167 reviews
Das Durchbrechen einer jahrzehntealten Gewohnheit führt in dem 1985 zuerst erschienenen Prosaband mit dem Untertitel »Komödie« von Thomas Bernhard dazu, daß der Privatgelehrte Atzbacher und der Musikphilosoph Reger sich an zwei aufeinanderfolgenden Tagen im Wiener Kunsthistorischen Museum treffen. Atzbacher nimmt diese außergewöhnliche Verabredung zum Anlaß, den in seine B ...more
Paperback, 310 pages
Published 1988 by Suhrkamp (first published 1985)
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Glenn Russell

Vienna Kunsthistorisches Museum

Old Masters - Thomas Bernhard's 1985 novel written in the form of one unending paragraph spanning 156 pages is a torrent of passion and ideas that will captivate and fascinate readers who enjoy reflections on art and aesthetic experience, on literature, music and the interplay of culture and society.

The opening sentence sets the scene: "Although I had arranged to meet Reger at the Kunsthistorisches Museum at half-past eleven, I arrived at the agreed spot at half-
...more
İntellecta
May 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A book full of anger, philosophy, criticism, humor and emotionality.

Zitate:" wir lieben die Philosophie und die ganze Geisteswissenschaft insgesamt ja nur weil sie absolut hilflos ist. Nur die Bücher lieben wir in Wahrheit, die kein Ganzes, die chaotisch, die hilflos sind. So ist es mit allem und jedem." S 43

"Wie nehmen die Menschen immer wieder in Schutz, weil wir nicht glauben können und auch nicht glauben wollen, daß sie so gemein sein können." S 295

Firdevs
Nov 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"İnsanlık, tarihi boyunca düşündüğü saçmalıkları söylememiş olsaydı çoktan boğulurdu, uzun süre susan her kişi boğulur, insanlık da uzun süre susamaz, çünkü hemen boğulur."
Sayfa 103
Hugh
If I were to start by saying that this book is one very long paragraph most of which consists of an intemperate rant, written in reported speech but without quotation marks, about Austria and the arts more generally, I suspect that would sound like hard work. Despite all of that, this book is quite readable, entertaining and full of interesting perspectives.

Ostensibly this is a tale of a friendship between two old men, and we learn very little about one of them, the narrator Atzbacher, who is m
...more
Kalliope



Reading Alte Meister Komödie (I read it in English but wanted to check its original, full, title), I felt for quite a while as if I were standing in front of a Merry-Go-Round. The sentences kept turning and turning in front of my eyes – similar phrases that appeared and reappeared appeasing, quenching and enervating me. Echoes of Raymond Queneau’s Exercices de style came to mind, but this was different. Small variations differentiated each turn. Nonetheless while looking at its pages was becomin
...more
Vit Babenco
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Old Masters is an angry and bitter book and it is wildly sarcastic. It is an intelligent and sorrowful contemplation of the modern society.
Man is a dichotomous being. Duplicity is a part of the human nature and everybody may become in some degree a two-faced Janus. The protagonist of Old Masters, Reger is one of a kind…
There were people who said Reger was mad because only a madman could for decades go every other day except Monday to the picture gallery of the Kunsthistorisches Museum, but he d
...more
Jeff Jackson
"I pulled out several drawers and several chests and looked into them and kept taking out pictures and writings and correspondence of my wife and put everything on the table, one item after another, and progressively inspected everything, and because I am an honest person my dear Atzenbach, I have to admit that I wept while doing so. Suddenly I gave my tears free reign, I had not wept for decades and suddenly I gave my tears free reign, Reger said. I sat there, giving my tears free reign, and I ...more
Nikos Tsentemeidis
"Είχα ένα σωρό κόσμο, μα κανέναν άνθρωπο".

Είχα τόσο καιρό να απολαύσω μ' αυτόν τον τρόπο ένα βιβλίο. Τελείωσα γεμάτος σημειώσεις. Μία κατηγορία μόνος του ο Bernhard. Τον θεωρώ πλέον ίσο του Thomas Mann, στην γερμανόγλωσση λογοτεχνία.

Είναι εντυπωσιακό, πως ένα μυθιστόρημα αργό, με συνεχείς επαναλήψεις, που μάλλον υπάρχουν για να τονίσουν αυτό το κλίμα το απαισιόδοξο, γεμάτο κριτική προς κάθε κατεύθυνση, είναι τόσο ελκυστικό, τουλάχιστον κατάφερες να μου κεντρίσει το ενδιαφέρον από τις πρώτες σελ
...more
Buğra Aydoğan
May 05, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Tiksinti sözcüğünün 150 sayfaya yayılmış hali. Sanat çevreleri ve kitsch kavramı üzerine yapılan güzellemeler bir yana, Viyana'ya dair detaylardan devşirilen nefret Thomas Bernhard'ın detaycılığının en uç noktalarından biriydi. Viyana tuvaletleri ve restoranlarda kullanılan masa örtüleri hakkında yazdıklarını okudukça Viyana'da metrobüs olsaydı daha neler yazardı diye düşünmeden edemedim.
MJ Nicholls
Senryu Review:

Breathtaking rancour
spewed with wicked humour and
touches of pathos.
trovateOrtensia
Apr 24, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: bernhard
Il libro è grande dalla prima all'ultima pagina, com'è del resto ovvio trattandosi di Bernhard.
Voglio qui trascrivere soltanto un brano su Heidegger, "quel ridicolo filisteo nazionalsocialista coi pantaloni alla zuava". Una vera goduria per quanti, come me, detestano (real) visceralmente questo "imbonitore della filosofia" , oltretutto umanamente miserrimo, opportunista e vile.

"Heidegger, il filosofo della Foresta Nera Heidegger, ha annegato nel kitsch la filosofia. (...) Heidegger, sulle cui or
...more
notgettingenough
I thought I was going to love this. Angry old man ranting about the world. When I started to become less amused I put it away and tried it in ever smaller doses. After all, one wouldn't watch Grumpy Old Men for 24 hours on the trot. But it just stopped pleasing me to the extent that eventually I did no more than flick through the last fifty pages or more, hoping I'd spot enlightenment were it to appear.

It doesn't.

The Art Historian
The art historians are the real wreckers of art. The art historian
...more
Paul
Apr 23, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
In which we get the rambling thoughts of Reger, an 82-year-old music critic, whose irascibility is only matched by his erudition, as he sits in Vienna's Kunsthistorisches Museum before Tintoretto's 'Portrait of a White Bearded Man'. Reger hates almost everything but reserves great passion for those things he loves. The prose - in a single paragraph, a la Garcia Marquez - is hypnotic.

"...I am basically always unhappy, I am sure you understand, Reger said then. Even though this is nonsense, Reger
...more
FotisK
Aug 29, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Έπληξα. Οκ, πάμε ξανά: Οι Αυστριακοί είναι οι... χειρότεροι άνθρωποι στον κόσμο!
Işıl
Jan 19, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Mest oldum. Her sayfası asabiyet ve nefret dolu. Tipik Bernhard. Ancak öyle bölümler vardı ki hayatın tam kalbinden diyorsunuz. Paragraf kullanmadan yazmasına rağmen de çok akıcı.
Alan
Jan 24, 2019 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Whether it’s the German love for subordination, or the translator’s love for redundant accuracy, this is a rocky road for reading. I have read forty pages in six mornings, the slowest I’ve ever progressed in purported English. For instance, the writer and the translator repeat Kunsthistorisches Museum four times in as many lines, or no paragraph separations—one long paragraph, 156 pp—or get this very first sentence, with the fishhook at the end:
“Although I had arranged to meet Reger at the Kuns
...more
Ferda Nihat Koksoy
Aug 11, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: novel, philosophy
*30 yıl boyunca Viyana Sanat Tarihi Müzesi'ne (Kunsthistorisches Museum) gidip, Tintoretto'nun BEYAZ SAKALLI ADAM resmini izleyerek düşünen ve sanat üzerine Times için yazılar yazan bir Avusturyalının yorumları.

-DAHİ ve Avusturya sözcükleri birbirleriyle uyuşmaz, Avusturya'da söz söyleyebilmen ve ciddiye alınman için ORTA KARAR OLMAK zorundasın, yeteneksizliğin ve taşra kalleşliğinin adamı olman gerekir, kesinlikle küçük devlet kafasına sahip biri olman gerekir. Bir dahi ya da olağanüstü bir bey
...more
R.
Sep 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"kışın, ilkbahar beni kurtaracak diye düşünüyorum, ilkbaharda yaz beni kurtaracak diye düşünüyorum ve yazın sonbahar diye ve sonbaharda kış diye, hep aynı şey, bir mevsimden ötekine umutlanıyorum."
Jim Elkins
Oct 09, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: german, austrian
Sadly, I didn't review this when I first read it. I might have been hypnotized. It is spectacular, from the first weirdness to the last pitiful joke. It is the only fictional book on fine art that I can stand to read. (Everyone else worships. Bernhard is interested in how art provokes disgust and other much more interesting reactions.)
Christopher
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literary-fiction
I had rated this 3 stars up to one hour before finishing the novel and I had to suddenly change that to 4 stars. Similar to the third act turn that takes place in Woodcutters, the prose rattles on as a sort of rant which suddenly takes a very dramatic and surprising turn within just a few pages of the end. In this novel, the rant is heightened to a level of almost self-mockery; it seems like he is satirizing his own style. Just when I feel, with Morrissey, that that joke really isn't funny anymo ...more
Frabe
Aug 31, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Da trent'anni il vecchio Reger medita a giorni alterni sull'arte e sulla vita davanti a un quadro del Tintoretto nel più importante museo di Vienna. Il ruolo fondamentale che l'arte ha sempre avuto per lui, musicologo, si è bruscamente ridimensionato dopo la tragica scomparsa della moglie: “Riempiamo la cassaforte del nostro spirito di questi spiriti magni e di questi Antichi Maestri - constata - e nel momento decisivo per la nostra vita ricorriamo a loro; ma quando l'apriamo, la cassaforte dell ...more
João Reis
Mar 28, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Bernhard uses, as usual, mostly a monologue to rant on everything under the sun, from art and politics to lavatories. He does not give a good image of Austria and Austrians (in some brilliant thoughts one might also apply to Portugal and the Portuguese) with his critical approach which, written in 1985 (the year I was born), is valid still today. The result is an excellent and sarcastic novel with a melancholic touch.
Troy
This is the first Bernhard book that I didn't love, and which I only moderately enjoyed. It's watered down Bernhard, de-fanged Bernhard, a Bernhard rant that is not so different from an internet spew on a well-written blog, or a particularly insightful and nasty Jon Stewart segment. But the magic wasn't there. The bile, the dark and funny hatred towards the world is diffused and feels rote. Perhaps it's because Bernhard is a one-note writer and after I read the first two, which seemed so fresh a ...more
Jan
My first Bernhard book and through the first three quarters I didn’t think I really got it. It's very short, but still difficult to read in one setting, it took me many short sessions to digest the book.

At one point in my early life I thought I could have some tendencies to be a misanthrope, but Bernhard showed that at my best (or maybe my worse) I was only a rank amateur. Bernhard presented page after page of rantings about everything and everyone – from great artists, composers, writers, and
...more
AC
Read about half of this - it is a self-parody (as the subtitle suggests: "a comedy"), and so is less compelling. There are some fascinating passages, such as the passage on life (and art) as fragment (rather than as whole), which can serve as a set-piece for 'modernism'.

Still, not my favorite Bernhard, and I'm going to move on.
Siti
Mar 23, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Kunsthistorisches Museum, un uomo è in anticipo di un’ora su un appuntamento datogli da un altro uomo, il suo a dir poco zelante tempismo è studiato perché gli serve per osservare o meglio spiare l’uomo che gli ha dato l’appuntamento, dalla Sala Sebastiano verso la Sala Bordone, indisturbato e da un’angolazione che definisce ideale. Reger può essere finalmente fatto oggetto di studio da Atzbacher, con la complicità del sorvegliante Irrsigler che è appunto colui, lo verremo a sapere più avanti , ...more
Ivana
An old man realizing that, at the end, what matters is not how much art we've seen, even if we're very very passionate about it; nor how much beautiful music we've listened to; nor how many great philosophy books we've read. What matters most is that one person we loved so much -- but we only realize that after we lose her. And it's only human touch that helps, no matter how much we love other things.
Rhomboid Goatcabin
Found this novel very distasteful and deterring, unfortunately. In my humble opinion, an unstructured rant masquerading as a legitimate novel. I am told all of Bernhard's novels are very much alike. I can hardly imagine anyone should have the courage to stand through more than one.
J.M. Hushour
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Why do painters paint at all when there is such a thing as nature?"
"Art is the most sublime and the most revolting thing simultaneously."
"How can a person celebrate a birthday, his birthday, I have always wondered, when it is a misfortune to be in this world at all."
"In this world and this age, he said, where everything is possible nothing will soon be possible."

You will always have an author you covet so much that you're almost jealous to recommend him or her to other readers. Bernhard is that
...more
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Thomas Bernhard was an Austrian author, who ranks 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 Be
...more

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“Art altogether is nothing but a survival skill, we should never lose sight of this fact, it is, time and again, just an attempt -- an attempt that seems touching even to our intellect -- to cope with this world and its revolting aspects, which, as we know, is invariably possible only by resorting to lies and falsehoods, to hyprocrisy and self-deception, Reger said. These pictures are full of lies and falsehoods and full of hypocrisy and self-deception, there is nothing else in them if we disregard their often inspired artistry. All these pictures, moreover, are an expression of man's absolute helplessness in coping with himself and with what surrounds him all his life. That is what all these pictures express, this helplessness which, on the one hand, embarasses the intellect and, on the other hand, bewilders the same intellect and moves it to tears, Reger said.” 54 likes
“The art historians are the real wreckers of art, Reger said. The art historians twaddle so long about art until they have killed it with their twaddle. Art is killed by the twaddle of the art historians. My God, I often think, sitting here on the settee while the art historians are driving their helpless flocks past me, what a pity about all these people who have all art driven out of them, driven out of them for good, by these very art historians. The art historians’ trade is the vilest trade there is, and a twaddling art historian, but then there are only twaddling art historians, deserves to be chased out with a whip, chased out of the world of art, Reger said, all art historians deserve to be chased out of the world of art, because art historians are the real wreckers of art and we should not allow art to be wrecked by the art historians who are really art wreckers. Listening to an art historian we feel sick, he said, by listening to an art historian we see the art he is twaddling about being ruined, with the twaddle of the art historian art shrivels and is ruined. Thousands, indeed tens of thousands of art historians wreck art by their twaddle and ruin it, he said. The art historians are the real killers of art, if we listen to an art historian we participate in the wrecking of art, wherever an art historian appears art is wrecked, that is the truth.” 15 likes
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