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4.22  ·  Rating details ·  2,818 ratings  ·  235 reviews
Holzfällen ist die Geschichte einer "Erregung", die Geschichte eines "künstlerischen Abendessens" in Wien, in der Gentzgasse. Der Ich? Erzähler, ein Schriftsteller, sitzt auf dem Ohrensessel und beobachtet die Gesellschaft die, auf den Schauspieler des Burgtheaters wartet, der versprochen hatte, gegen halb zwölf zu diesem Essen zu kommen. Während seiner Beobachtungen besch ...more
Paperback, 320 pages
Published 2001 by Suhrkamp (first published 1984)
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Jun 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The book is excellently readable, and in my opinion this makes it a very good entry for people who have not read Bernhard yet. But it contains everything that makes the books of Bernhard so readable: repetitions, cynicism, polemics and yet a certain sense of humor.
Steven Godin
Feb 17, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As I sat in my chair after reading of a man sat in a chair, I thought, what an odd, darkly comic and nihilistically cold book this was. The only thing I am sure of is I haven't read anything quite like it before. I wouldn't have minded going for a drink with Mr Bernhard, but if this is his idea of a dinner party, I would decline the invitation and stay at home with a good book and some takeaway noodles. The novel takes place over only a couple of hours, but is told with large chunks of flashback ...more
Ok, let’s just cut to the chase. This work, this novel, this brilliantly flowing diatribe of comic vitriol, is a work of pure consummate genius. The writing, the pacing, the internal dialogue, the word choice, and probably the translation, too (though that is only a guess)—it is all perfect, perfect, perfect. You people will think I’m joking when I say this, but I am telling you: this book is a freaking page-turner.

Woodcutters is the first-person narrative of an over-the-hill, acrimonious gentle
In a prominent, well-trafficked gallery of the Bad Dinner Guest Hall of Fame we should logically expect to find the (unnamed) narrator of Thomas Bernhard's excoriating masterpiece Woodcutters, who not only isolates himself from the other guests, preferring a lone wing chair in the entryway to their generally detestable company, but also spends the better part of the evening mentally dissecting, dismantling, and disparaging everyone who is unlucky enough to fall under his gaze. At the long-antici ...more
Manuel Antão
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2012
Before the year 2012 was out, I needed my usual fix of Thomas Bernhard... I've picked my favourite: Holzfällen" (meaning literally "Lumbering").

I've read this in German a long time ago. This time round I wanted to tackle him through an English translation.

I've chosen the McLintock translation, due to the raving reviews, and I must say it never felt I was reading a translation. At the end of this English version, I wanted to read again the German version, just to feel the flow of reading a book
Sep 13, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

Είχα καιρό να βρεθώ σε φυσικό βιβλιοπωλείο. Ήθελα να ξεχάσω το χρόνο, περιμένοντας δυο φίλους να διαλέξουν δωράκια για μια παιδική γιορτή. Ξεχώρισα αρχικά το Μηδέν και το άπειρο και μετά συνέχισα να κοιτάω. Επέλεξα τελικά κάποιο του Ρεβέρτε, τον οποίο δεν έχω διαβάσει γενικά. Φεύγοντας έπεσε το μάτι μου στα πίσω ράφια της κλασικής και είδα ένα μικρό βιβλιαράκι που έκανε μπαμ από μακριά ότι είναι Έξαντας. Το είχα αναζητήσει παλιότερα και έτσι το πήρα στα χέρια μου. Αν και είχα διαβάσει κριτικέ
Florence (Lefty) MacIntosh
Jul 27, 2013 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Can’t think of anyone at the moment – need some time…
Recommended to Florence (Lefty) by: Jason Morais
“I eagerly crack open the book and can feel myself getting smarter as I turn the first few pages. At first, even though it is really depressing, this book excites me because it deals with mental health the arts, a subject I am very interested in.”

Do you consider yourself an eclectic reader? Willing to broaden your horizons, now and then explore one of those slightly obscure but much-admired novels? On top of that do you find it next to impossible to abandon a book? Well try this one on for size
MJ Nicholls
This excellent monologue combines the acid wit of Sorrentino’s Imaginative Qualities of Actual Things to another book whose title escapes me for the moment but will be added to the review upon remembering. A melancholic and hilarious novel sans para breaks (first Bernhard for me—assuming all of them are similar) told from the perspective of an embittered writer in his twilight years reflecting (after the death of a friend) upon the odious Austrian demi-monde he has been trapped in for too long. ...more
Feb 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Brilliant, bilious, hilarious, unsettling, a breathlessly intense, sustained novelistic experience that leaves you smiling and strained on the outside, nicked and nourished beneath the skin. By this point in his literary output Thomas Bernhard was a master craftsman, and the narrative voice he conjures for the unnamed—but immensely Bernhardian—writer whose interiority serves as the driving force of this little human engine that couldn't ranks among his very best. Personally, and has always prove ...more
Nov 29, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: I find your gun
Recommended to Mariel by: Bernhard 05
The artistic life. The artistic world.

Writing feels fake to me. Not other people's writing. I mean that me writing doesn't feel natural to me. The more articulate I try to be the worse it gets. This "You're such a fake" voice and a rising of stupidity blush on the back of my neck (my ears get it the worst, in the end). I do it anyway. I like thinking about stuff. I pretty much have to have it or I'll feel even more doldrums and pointless circles than ever. It's the trying to say it all together
Aug 17, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Josh by: Mary
Shelves: 2015
This is a winged chair:

Nothing spectacular. Just a chair.

This is a man in a winged chair:

He is the observer; the archetype of neurosis.

Neither are authentic to the story of ‘Woodcutters’, but are significant in nature. A man possibly perceived as having a sense of ubiquity mocks his old acquaintances, but also mocks 19th century Viennese bourgeoisie society. As this non-forgiving, self-deprecating curmudgeon sits in his winged chair he displays his angst of the past and his hatred for the hypocr
Aug 19, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In a big, old chair at a late night dinner party, the main character sits and rages silently over his hosts, their art snobbery and the general state of the culture scene in Vienna. Half hidden behind a door, he observes the other guests and reminisce on events from the past. He regrets accepting the invitation to this "late night artistic dinner" with old acquaintances he obviously loathes. My Norwegian translation has a subtitle that can be translated as "An agitation", which is very fitting. ...more
Aug 20, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thus is my third experience of reading Bernhard, and after Old Masters and Correction, I had a pretty good idea what to expect. Once again this book is largely an intemperate rant against Austrian society written in a single long paragraph full of repetitions but this time I picked up on more of the humour.

The unnamed narrator is a writer who has returned to Vienna after a long period in London. He is invited to an artistic dinner by his one time friends, the petit bourgeois Auersbergers, after
Mar 24, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The great paradox of this Bernhard narrator, like so many others, is his hypercritical nature, which is often in conflict with itself, and, for the entire book, his utterly static physical presence. Indeed, he never moves during the narration, which occurs at a dinner party, except to go to the next room and back. The action, if it can be called that, for most is reminiscence, takes place during a single day. The phase he uses constantly is: "I thought, sitting in the wing chair. . ." The unname ...more
Mar 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, 2015, austria
You’ve always lived a life of pretense, not a real life – a simulated existence, not a genuine existence. Everything about you, everything you are, has always been pretense, never genuine, never real.

Bernhard's satire of Viennese petit bourgeois society is one long frantic, hateful, angry, and at times even nostalgic internal monologue. It’s narrated as if it’s one deep exhale by an aging writer who has returned to Vienna after several decades away and has reunited with people he “didn’t like 3
May 09, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2018-read, austria
Thomas Bernhard is the Shakespeare of grumpy ramblings, fiercely holding his ground while embracing contradictory emotions. Almost 30 years after his death, his literary importance doesn’t fade, on the contrary: Bernhard has become a postmodern classic, and just recently, author Benjamin von Stuckrad-Barre (who is extremely famous in German-speaking countries) maintained that “Woodcutters” was the best novel ever written.

One of Bernhard’s trademark traits: He never shied away from controversy. W

Novel "Woodcutters" takes place during one evening through so-called artistic dinner given by a couple of narrator’s former friends. A pretext for the dinner is a visit of known actor, but the real reason is a suicidal death of their mutual friend, unfulfilled artist Joana. And that way a celebration for the actor transforms into a funeral reception. What would come of it? Nothing good except a gripping writing.

Narrator, an uncompromising observer hidden in the shadow, sitting in the wing chair
Nov 15, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Thomas Bernhard’s Woodcutters is a fascinating, claustrophobic (er, in a good way) book. The novel’s narrator sits in the corner of a party and comments on the attendees, their shared history, the nature of the Vienna art scene, and the subtle, hegemonic nuances of action and motivation.

The party’s ostensible purpose is twofold. First, a celebrated actor, fresh from a triumphant performance in an Ibsen play, is invited but holds up dinner by failing to arrive until late in the evening. Second,
Jun 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Have you ever existed within the periphery of a group of friends, or maybe classmates in school? You’re never truly accepted by them. Maybe they use you for your access to pharmaceuticals or because you’re careless/generous with money. They belittle you; you are the butt of all of their jokes, they’re only nice to you when you have something to offer. Then you grow up and move on. You realize these people are shit. That they’re not as smart, as funny, as charming as you thought. You resent them ...more
Nov 13, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mainstream, míos, drama
Cada vez son menos las obras de Thomas Bernhard que me quedan por leer, es por ello que me las voy racionando, porque después ya sé que no habrán nuevas obras de mi admirado Bernhard por leer, y sólo me quedará releer sus obras. Crítica severa de la sociedad artística y cultural de Viena, y crítica despiadada de la propia Viena, ‘Tala’ (1984) es un monólogo interior, desde su sillón de orejas, de un narrador y protagonista que ha sido invitado a una cena artística por los Auersberger, a los que ...more
Mar 11, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: statler & waldorf
Recommended to Jessica by: daniel
Shelves: groups-of-people
There are many writers who have written books and most of them are crap, but that is not the case with Thomas Bernhard, who is a great writer, and his books are not crap. Thomas Bernhard writes great books, that is to say, he did write great books, and he was a great writer, but now, I am pretty sure, Thomas Bernhard is dead. Considering that he is dead, it is no longer accurate to say that Thomas Bernhard writes great books; however, it is still wholly accurate to say that his books are great. ...more
May 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites, re-read
Just re-read after 8+ years: not nearly as funny as I remembered, which isn't what I was expecting, since I re-read it to prep for an essay on Bernhard's humor: hmmm. Laughs at first may have come in part from initial exposure to his intoxicating/detoxifying technology in prose. It's not all bile at all -- the moments of tenderness for his friends and Vienna really stood out this time, as when he shifts into generalizing "we" mode. The style isn't totally refined yet either. I'd almost be tempte ...more
Mar 23, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Trish by: Karl Ove Knausgaard
In one of his many interviews Karl Ove Knausgaard praised the work of Thomas Bernhard, an Austrian writer (1931-1989) of whom I had never heard. His work was placed in the canon of great 20th Century literature. He wrote in German. Scrolling through the list of titles translated into English I chose Woodcutters to get an idea of his work. First published in 1984, it was translated and published in English by Knopf in 1987. It references the atmosphere of the 1950s or perhaps the early 1960s.

A m
Eddie Watkins
Sep 07, 2008 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: austrian-fiction
Wherein a man attends a dinner and demolishes a country without leaving his chair (or even opening his mouth); then, high on his own splenetic vituperation, falls in love with it all over again.

But this new "love" is at once sincere, ironic, and deeply conflicted.

Add to this the circular nature of the narrative - the narrator at the end is in a rush to write the book you just read, which makes of the book a verbal maelstrom - and you have one fascinating and fantastic book.

Key quote - Although I
Çağdaş T
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: yky, library
7 / 10
Anlaşılır ama akıcı değildi. Kitapta bölümler ve aralar olmaması okunurluğu zorlaştırıyor. En azından YKY bazı satırlar arası boşluk vs koyabilirdi -paragraf bile yoktu- sanki az sayfa tutsun da maliyet düşük olsun gibi yöntem izlenmiş. Altını çizdiğim çok yer oldu. Thomas Bernhard ile tanıştığıma memnunum.
Feb 09, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2013
A five star which I folded, halfway through. Difficult decision but so it goes. There is absolutely nothing to complain about: in fact I felt cocooned in a security blanket quilted with the reassuring monotone of neurotic repetitive obsessiveness: ‘as I sat in that arm chair’, intones Bernhard over and over again, until its languid whisper acquires the sensual sussurance of a Buddist mantra; chair or ‘Om’, the effect is equally hypnotic and lulling. But. I’m crossing over to the camp who claim B ...more
Oct 02, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
One of the best of his, no doubt about it. The structure is perfection itself, and the musicality of it (even in this excellent translation) is a wonder.
Mark Hebwood
Oh dear. What can I say about this? Well, for one thing, I am glad I survived the experience of reading this novel. After 200 pages of violent, angry rants against the Viennese art establishment, and attacks on myself (as the book is written by an I-narrator) I feel physically exhausted, and in need of counselling.

But I am jumping ahead. The first thing I would like to do is recommend an edition. I can only recommend buying the hardcover edition in Thomas Bernhard's Complete Works, recently comp
Nuno Simões
Nov 02, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
tudo o que Thomas Bernhard escreveu é brilhante, mas este livro... acima dele pouco haverá.
Sep 01, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
pretty magnificent piece of misanthropy worthy of Swift. In Vienna a very bad dinner guest indeed pours bile (in his head, he hardly speaks and then only to insult or mumble incoherently before falling asleep) on the assembled guests, as they wait for the star actor from the Burgtheater and directly after the funeral of one of the 'artistic' crowd who has committed suicide. Venal, petty, pretentious: a typical bunch of artists and writers and actors, all vying for attention and praise. The narra ...more
مروان البلوشي
تاريخ القراءة الأصلي : ٢٠٠٨

رواية مهمة وسوداوية من الأدب الألماني، حافلة بمراقبة الحياة الكئيبة في مجتمع النمسا الثري ولكنه خاوي من الروح الوثابة، مجتمع مستقر ولكن بعض أفراده يتطلعون نحو غد مختلف ثم يفشلون ويعيشون في مرارة كبيرة
Jennifer (aka EM)
Jul 19, 2013 marked it as abandoned-for-now  ·  review of another edition
monomaniacal curmudgeon aka unreliable narrator whom I think doth protest too much spews hate from a wing chair.

lots of words, no point. also no chapter breaks, no dialogue, no plot, no relief in sight. mind-numbingly repetitive - the perfect before-bed soporofic.

this is highly rated and lauded by my very smart friends who've read it - so what am I missing? does it get better? does it get different? is there a reason to pick this up again?


ETA: To clarify, I have put this on my "abandon
Nate D
Apr 02, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Utterly vitriolic dissection of so-called artistic society, compromise, and self-deception -- and yet, what keeps striking me is how funny, how entertainingly readable, Bernhard really is.
Oct 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: owned, austriaca
Thomas Bernhard ha sempre cercato, nelle sue opere così come nella sua vita di scrittore affermato, di sottolineare e raccontare i più biechi comportamenti umani per quello che effettivamente sono. Ne è nato un autore che difficilmente si può leggere per piacere o per rilassarsi: tutto ciò che esce dalla bocca di Bernhard è sgradevole, tagliente, feroce, derisorio, pregno di un'ironia sagace ma distruttiva. Bernhard non concede nulla a chi lo circonda — e non concede nulla neanche a se stesso, s ...more
Justin Evans
Jun 05, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
It says something about modernity that Austria chose to ban this Bernhard novel, the one that ends (spoiler alert, but really, this is a Bernhard novel, and you're not reading for plot) with a (for Bernhard) grand affirmation of the worthwhileness of human and specifically Viennese existence, to wit, everything is worth hating, but everything is also worth loving.

Austria, c'est nous: more worried about being personally offended than about rampant nihilism.

That aside, this is great. Not quite t
Jan 07, 2010 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
There's a grizzled New York street-book-vendor I call "Gangster." He's a fortissimo sforzando character, and despite (or perhaps because of) his occupation (book-selling) in the hipster capital of America (Williamsburg, Brooklyn) his tastes are a bit eclectic, and sometimes arcane (or it could be because he, like me, is an autodidact). Whenever he loves anything he'll claim, "they're a [insert following: great/fantastic/amazing/wonderful] stylist." "Matthew Gregory Lewis is an amazing stylist." ...more
Aug 25, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: austria
After a friend (failed artist, of course) commits suicide, our narrator is reunited with some former friends he hasn't met in 20-30 years at what passes for a wake, but is really just yet another opportunity for a gang of aging authors, musicians, critics and actors to hang out, talk about their own genius and talk shit about each other. And he sits there, grieving, in a corner, chewing over one long internal stream-of-consciousness monologue of Captain Haddockisms aimed at the others (perfidiou ...more
Jul 11, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The forest, the virgin forest, the life of a woodcutter—that has always been my ideal.
Simon Robs
Dec 16, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Really now, though part of a trilogy these back-to-back Bernhard selections could almost induce my good nature into something ire-ish as not for nothing has despising seemed so mirthfully salubrious! (Though in jest this comment is aimed to comedic effect not the shameful outright hatred on display here in the US on BOTH sides of political divide which thoroughly sickens me.) Eeh gads but he lays out one page after another of fulminating, vituperative, invective, no surcease until he closes vowi ...more
Mads Holm
Oct 11, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Alt er latterligt i Thomas Bernhards “Træfældning”, der er andet bind i hans såkaldte kunstnertrilogi. Romanen er ét langt raseriudbrud, stopfyldt med afsky mod alt og alle. Ingen går fri, hverken de gemene østrigerne, det nederdrægtige kunstnermiljø, de perfide selskabsonanister og mindst af alle fortælleren selv. Med andre ord: Det er klassisk Bernhard og det er ganske enkelt fremragende, tænker jeg, mens jeg sidder i min øreklapstol.
Jan 12, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Mein erster Bernhard in Buchform. Trotzdem kommt mir ,,Holzfällen" sehr vertraut vor.
Dies liegt daran, dass ich mir von Thomasa Holtzmann schon ,,Wittgensteins Neffe" und ,,Alte Meister" vorlesen lassen habe. Mit diesen beiden Büchern hat ,,Holzfällen" - nicht nur thematisch - viele Gemeinsamkeiten.

So ist der Stil naturgemäß der gleiche. Das ist die Wahrheit, denke ich. Da ich diesen aber auch sehr gerne höre und auch lese, ist das ein Pluspunkt für mich. Bernhards spiralförmiges Erzählen, wel
Sep 02, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Some books are such products of their place that one simply cannot imagine them being produced in any other place. Only Vienna where institutions have reached fetishistic proportions matched by a paranoia that the city itself has fallen from its former imperial grandeur into provincial stagnancy could this novel have been spwaned. Thomas Bernhard`s loathing of Vienna, and a tiny bit of love, spills over into every page of this novel.

A novel maybe a misnomer, this is essentially a 192 page diatr
Mar 03, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Witness the vitriolic rantings of a misanthrope, not unlike those of the Underground man of Dostoevsky (this book could very well be the prolongation of the dinner party in Apropos of Wet Snow in Notes from the Underground).

Woodcutters is a masterfully paced book. Although you can see that the vitriol might be somewhat justified and also slightly exaggerated and distorted in the insistent victimization the narrator claims for himself, the book is so well paced that it is never too much to bear
J.W. Dionysius Nicolello
i'd had woodcutters somewhere high on my mental library awhile, then my physical library a while less, knew bernhard, knew what was going on with this book, and awoke at the crack of a dawn some velvet morning, recently, in a particularly furious mood. i was due into work at nine, no-called-no-showed, thereafter promptly to be fired, which began to trigger a sense of optimism in my almost terminal melancholia, my at-random lethargy taking place at this moment in life i speak of.

i am tempted to
Omar Alhashimi
Jun 08, 2018 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature, novels
I relate with the narrator very much.

I too enjoy sitting alone thinking of how much I hate everyone when I'm at a party/event with people I despise.

A very strange book. I never would have thought I would like a book about a guy sitting and hating on every person around him. But it was enjoyable.
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Which translation is "better"? 5 24 Jan 13, 2014 09:18AM  
  • Die Dämonen
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  • War & War
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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
“You've always lived a life of pretense, not a real life-- a simulated existence, not a genuine existence. Everything about you, everything you are, has always been pretense, never genuine, never real.” 82 likes
“Träume und Märchen waren ihr eigentlicher Lebensinhalt, dachte ich jetzt. Deshalb hat sie sich auch umgebracht, dachte ich, weil ein Mensch, der nur Träume und Märchen sich zu seinem Lebensinhalt gemacht hat, in dieser Welt nicht überleben kann, nicht überleben darf, dachte ich.” 17 likes
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