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Wittgensteins Neffe

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  4,424 ratings  ·  420 reviews
Mit seiner 1982 vorgelegten Arbeit über die Geschichte einer Freundschaft führt Bernhard seine Autobiographie, die Beschreibung seiner Kindheit und Jugend in fünf Bänden, weiter in die Jahre 1967 bis 1979. Bei einem Sanatoriumsaufenthalt vertiefte sich seine Freundschaft mit Paul Wittgenstein, die in leidenschaftlichen Diskussionen über Musik begonnen hatte. Paul Wittgenst ...more
Paperback, 163 pages
Published October 25th 1987 by Suhrkamp Verlag (first published 1982)
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Vit Babenco
Mar 26, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wittgenstein's Nephew is about friendship but in some strange way it reminded me of The Castle by Franz Kafka
Between a man and freedom there is always a wall of bureaucracy…
Paul’s mind quite simply exploded because he could not discard his intellectual fortune fast enough. In the same way Nietzsche’s mind exploded, just as all the other mad philosophical minds exploded, because they could no longer sustain the pace. Their intellectual fortune builds up at a faster and fiercer rate than they can
A Philosophy Of and For the Curmudgeon

A catalogue of pet-hates and prejudices masquerading as a memoir, Wittgenstein’s Nephew is a perennial rant of the old against not just the young but against the world in general. This is a world of unmet expectations, incivility, and bad taste. The only possible response to this world is a resigned snobbishness accompanied by the occasional whine of despair. Paul, the nephew of the philosopher, is simply a foil for presenting this as a philosophy rather tha
Sep 26, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Whom Bernhard has met so far only as a radical exaggeration artist or misanthrope, he shows himself here a little differently :)) Quote from Marcel Reich-Ranicki "Thomas Bernhard has never philanthropic "never written more tenderly", for me personally is Thomas Bernhard's sentence constructions, narrative style and his language unique. ...more
Mar 24, 2011 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
A highly readable work of dazzling intensity. The novella is based in part on a true story: author Bernhard's friendship with philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein's grand nephew, Paul. Prepare yourself for a blast of intellectually dense but very compelling--and funny--writing. The book is at bottom a great howl of rage against death. Bernhard in his day (1931-1989) was perhaps Austria's most controversial novelist/playwright. The narrator, based on Bernhard, and his familiar, Paul Wittgenstein, shar ...more
Steven Godin
Sep 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction, austria
Damn, I was hoping to drag this out for as long as possible, but how does one drag out a book with only a hundred pages and no paragraphs?. Added to the fact it was just so darn good. It would have been like trying to stop an Olympic Skier flying down a mountain. So Stuff it, I thought, I will rip through this in no time, stop for a coffee, and read it again. Before deciding which of his books I will order next whilst scurrying around in a cold sweat. Yes, it's safe to say Mr. Bernhard has left ...more

Wittgenstein’s Nephew is a thing about Paul, nephew of a great though rather dismissed in native country philosopher, Ludwig Wittgenstein; is a thing about illness and falling into madness ; at last is a thing about dying and death. But most of all Wittgenstein’s Nephew is a thing about friendship and its nature.

In 1967, at the same time though in two separated wings of hospital, resides our narrator ( due to lungs disease ) whilst his friend Paul Wittgenstein is under psychiatric care. Fro
Paquita Maria Sanchez
Apr 27, 2012 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: literature
Fick! What started out as the cause of me once again whining under my breath about Bernhard's head-clubbing repetition slowly evolved into a rewarding, mist upon the eyes causing, scrupulous bloodletting of Bernhard's personal guilt, nostalgia, and self-reflection resulting from the passing of his closest friend, literally Wittgenstein's nephew, Paul Wittgenstein. Paul was, as Bernhard and various Mental Health Professionals proclaimed, a certifiable Madman. However, Paul argued he was at least ...more
When stress punches you in the stomach with a force that takes your breath (yes, I know, school has just only started for teachers and the kids won't be in until next week, but scheduling is a brutal hellish device that creates an immediate sense of evil foreboding and looming mortality and exhaustion), it is almost impossible to read coherently for pleasure. Unfortunately, my main source of detox and soothing is reading, so that is a bit of a Catch-22.

But there is one exception to the "too-much
A quickie review, so put on your non-porous splash suit and buckle yourself in. Eschewing his emblematic deranged, run-on style, Bernhard serves up Wittgenstein's Nephew as both a eulogy of his friend Paul Wittgenstein, the famed philosopher's mentally unbalanced nephew, and a bleak rumination on death -- or more pointedly, the slow, surreptitious death that constitutes life. If you know someone who is despairing about about his or her physical deterioration and impending death, do not be so tho ...more
Dec 15, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At first I expected an autobiographical tale of friendship between author and Paul Wittgenstein, nephew of Ludwig Wittgenstein. But then it is so much more, there were discussions about Austrian society. My favourite is the literary prize episode, I found it hilarious.

But at the end, the author was discussing his friend, Paul, at the last stages of his life. It was so sad (At that late part I was torn between 4 or 5 star rating, I was so moved by Paul's situation).

The author combined the absurd

How long have I been starved of these conversations, I thought, of the chance to listen to him, to expound my own ideas...

In dire need of a friend like Paul!
May 13, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
Bernhard likes very few things, especially people. To paraphrase his narrator, who at a certain instance in the novel ruthlessly points out, one doesn't even have to use all the five fingers of one hand to count the things, ideas or ideals of the society he is in good terms with. A sample of his raw judgement:

For let us not deceive ourselves: most of the minds we associate with are housed in heads that have little more to offer than overgrown potatoes, stuck on top of whining and tastelessly
M. Sarki
Jun 03, 2011 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition

This is one of those Bernhard books that most devotees say they loved but speak little about why or how it happened. Those who do are predictable in their comments regarding Bernhard's plot, his friendships, judgments, and in general, death. Nothing wrong with either approach, but it just doesn't get the uninitiated where she needs to be. This particular Bernhard tale is quite unlike anything else he has written. Almost easier to stomach the vitriol and ra
Dov Zeller
Dec 06, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"I am the happiest traveler—when I am on the move, moving on or moving off—but the unhappiest arriver." (88-89)

In "Wittgenstein's Nephew", Bernhard explores his ideal place -- the place between places. It may be we never quite set out and never quite arrive in the pages of this book, but travel breathlessly, with few rests, as if life depends upon endless moving in much the way the roadrunner ought to keep moving and never look down. It's when we stop and take account that we realize how far the
Nov 29, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
"The only difference between us is that Paul allowed himself to be utterly dominated by his madness, whereas I have never let myself be dominated by my equally serious madness; one might say that he was taken over by his madness, whereas I have always exploited mine." (21)
Wittgenstein's Nephew begins in a Viennese hospital, where Thomas Bernhard and Paul Wittgenstein, nephew of the great philosopher Ludwig, are forced—for different but related reasons—to lie in separate wings. Bernhard is suffer
Joselito Honestly and Brilliantly
Had this not been part fiction I would have unhesitatingly called its author, Thomas Bernhard, insane. Or, at the very least, a difficult, incomprehensible eccentric. He writes here about his friend Paul Wittgenstein, a nephew of the philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein whose philosophy of language I studied in college but never understood. To Thomas Bernhard both Ludwig and Paul were mad philosophers, the only difference between them being that Ludwig was published and became famous while Paul never ...more
Justin Evans
Mar 25, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Okay, I'm giving this five stars because I'm already nostalgic for the times when I had new Bernhard to read--I've only got a couple more novels to go before I move on to the stories. This is an odd part of his work, since it's actually kind of in praise of something. It's in praise of a mentally disturbed wastrel, yes, but still, it's in praise of something. Bernhard records his friendship with Paul Wittgenstein, their mutual sicknesses, then moves on to more usual Bernhard territory (I HATE VI ...more
Branko Nikovski
A Friendship Poem

Never underestimate the misanthrope's critic of nature.
He often offers valid facts,
Not fallacies.

Never underestimate the misanthrope's friendship.
It's rare, but sensitive.
It's unknown, but honest.

Never underestimate the misanthrope's pessimism towards mankind.
It comes from experience, not theory.
It comes after many failed optimistic hopes.
It comes after understanding.

Never call him a pessimist,
It's your friend.
Never call him a misanthrope,
He loves you.

Call him : my friend !
My u
I picked this up because I'd read Berhard's "The Loser" already and the same friend who had leant it to me suggested I check out another Berhard joint.

Part of the reason he interests me is because he is so consistently praised and oohed and ahhed over by (at least what I see of) the current literary establishment. So many people suggest that he is (or, more specifically, was) one of the very best of contemporary world writers that I suppose it would be poor form to neglect his work.

Plus, it s
Nov 23, 2020 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Wittgenstein's Nephew doesn't deviate from Thomas Bernhard's established model - a single paragraph across 100 pages, ire and pathos, elitism and anti-elitism, relentless invective against Österreich's charming capital (and, in this case, against its beautiful coffee houses)... And, of course, it's none the worse for that. That solitary paragraph might seem off-putting to our modern attention spans but such is the energy of Bernhard's prose that this short novel is an easy read.

Wittgenstein's N
It’s almost impossible to put in words the reading experience when the book is so gripping that you can’t leave it and feel as if you had read it in one breath. And incidentally it was written in a single 100-page long paragraph, the thoughts of an incredibly honest narrator flowing naturally. In this case Bernhard himself is the narrator, walking us through his observations about society (he hates it), music (he loves it), Vienna, the hypocrisy of literary prizes, what-not, … above all, it’s a ...more
Christopher Robinson
“Sitting on the park bench, I suddenly saw it all clearly again, as I was not ashamed of the pathos I succumbed to, of the fine words that I allowed to flow into me for the very first time; they suddenly made me feel tremendously good, and I made no attempt to tone them down. I let them all descend on me like a refreshing rain. And today it seems to me that we can count on the fingers of one hand all the people who have really meant anything to us in the course of our lives, and very often this ...more
J.M. Hushour
Aug 14, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
"Of all medical practitioners, psychiatrists are the most incompetent, having a closer affinity to the sex killer than to their science."

This will likely count in the long run as one of Bernhard's supreme achievements, the hilarious reworking of a significant part of his life, a single friendship, into a dark and often moving paean to that late friend. In fact, this is hardly a novel. Bernhard subtitled it "A Friendship" and that is mostly what it is, an account of B's long, intimate, yet troubl
So when you have a long and unwieldy and somewhat overly specific phrase, it's funny the once, though not as funny as if you repeat the same long and unwieldy and somewhat overly specific phrase several times as you navigate through a long sentence made up of multiple dependent clauses each of which contains the aforementioned long and unwieldy and somewhat overly specific phrase, which repetition, then, builds to a grammatically-based hilarity built around the long and unwieldy and somewhat ove ...more
Dec 02, 2012 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
this is the first Bernhard book I've read. I was made aware of him by listening to an interview of W.G. Sebald. in it he mentioned that Bernhard was his mentor. if he helped Sebald find his voice, he must be special or maybe not. I was not disappointed . this is a raw-honest telling of his relationship with Paul Wittgenstein, nephew of Ludwig. it is about facing death, the cruel reality of aging, and the frailty of our minds and bodies. sounds like a real bummer of a book, eh. yet it is not, tot ...more
Lee Klein
May 20, 2007 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
the key to all of Bernhard is on the last page.
Jan 17, 2021 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Short and not so sweet. It's Bernhard. It's an excavation of human misery. With each page another turn of the knife. Contains one of the most potent 4 page bursts Thomas ever wrote....had me in tears. Both of laughter and pain. And so in my lung disease and ever increasing madness I reached something, on the park bench I thought, resembling ecstasy. It also ties in nicely as kind of addendum to his autobiography Gathering Evidence, I recommend reading the two in conjunction. ...more
Oct 10, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: readers who like a laugh, a shock, a challenge
Recommended to John by: maybe Donald Barthelme
Call it the contra-convalescent novel, in which laughter is the worst medicine & yet we can't help sticking out our arms for a fresh shot, because anyway it hurts more to be up on your feet than laid out in a hospital. Or is this a novella? WITTGENSTEIN'S NEPHEW has no chapter breaks, anyway, nor paragraph breaks either. As its shaggy-dog cynicism & worldliness spools out, the work may even rise to the technical challenge of carving out a new late-20th-Century form. This thing of darkness, fasci ...more
Jul 05, 2010 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-in-2010
Bernhard with a smile... of sorts. This is almost Bernhard-lite. There's still the one-paragraph-book, still the despair, anguish, hatred for humanity (which includes, of course, Bernhard), focus on the base elements of our nature, and the bile, the endlessly spewing bile. But it is all leavened by the nature of the story, which is about Bernhard's brilliant and doomed friend who is Wittgenstein's nephew and equally as brilliant as Ludwig Wittgenstein, even if he never put his brilliant thoughts ...more
a 100 page book consisting of 1 paragraph should not be this enjoyable to read (I read it in a day), especially without any kind of intriguing plot, flashy language or the like. But Bernhard's subtle writing style draws you in, always interesting and often hilarious, without appearing like he is trying all that hard to be. Most of all, it's the line of thought in this book that is the most impressive to me, the way it moves from thought to thought like a very good poem. I will definitely read mo ...more
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Reading 1001: Wittgenstein's Nephew by Thomas Bernhard 3 21 Feb 03, 2021 12:32PM  
Goodreads Librari...: Correction 5 31 Oct 16, 2018 06:54AM  

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Thomas Bernhard was an Austrian writer 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 are often at work on a lifetime and never-ending major project while they deal with themes such as suicide, madness and obsession, and, as Be

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“I avoid literature whenever possible, because whenever possible I avoid myself...” 35 likes
“قلت لنفسى وأنا أجلس فوق دكة فى منتزه المدينة، إن هذه ربما تكون آخر مرة أرى فيها صديقى. لم أكن اعتقد أن جسدا بهذا الوهن، خبت فيه جذوة الحياة وانطفأت شعلة الإرادة، سيتحمل أكثر من بضعة أيام. زُلزل كيانى لرؤيته هكذا يعانى الوحدة فجأة، هذا الإنسان الذى هو بسليقته إنسان اجتماعى، كما يقولون، منذ مولده وحتى بلوغه، وظل اجتماعيا إلى أن أمسى كهلا ثم شيخا. ثم خطر على بالى كيف تعرّفت إلى هذا الإنسان الذى أضحى بالفعل صديقى، الذى طالما أسعدَ وجودى غاية السعادة، هذا الوجود الذى لم يكن بائسا قبل التعرف إليه، إلا أنه كان شاقا مُجهدا. كان هو الذى فتح عينى على أشياء كثيرة كنت أجهلها تماما، وأرشدنى إلى دروب لم يكن لى علم بها، وفتح لى أبواباً كانت موصدة بإحكام فى وجهى، وأعاد لى نفسى فى تلك اللحظة الحاسمة عندما كدت أهلك فى ريف ناتال. حقا لقد كنت أصارع فى تلك المرحلة قبل التعرف إلى صديقى كى أقهر مزاجا سوداويا مَرَضيا، أو لنقل اكتئابا، سيطر علىّ منذ سنوات حتى أننى عددت نفسى فى عداد الضائعين. سنوات طويلة لم أعمل خلالها عملا ذا قيمة. فى معظم الأحيان كنت أبدأ يومى وأنهيه بلا مبالاة تامة. كم من مرة أوشكت آنذاك على وضع نهاية لحياتى بيدى. سنوات طويلة لم أكن أفعل شيئا سوى الهروب فى هواجس الانتحار الفظيعة والقاتلة للروح، هواجس جعلت كل شىء فى حياتى غير مُحتَمَل، وجعلتنى أنا نفسى لا أُحتَمل أكثر من أى شىء آخر، كنت أهرب من مواجهة العبث اليومى المحيط بى، والذى كنت أندفع إليه، ربما لضعفى العام، ولضعف شخصيتى على وجه خاص. طوال سنوات لم أعد أرغب فى تخيل إمكانية مواصلة الحياة، ولا حتى مجرد الوجود. لم يعد لى هدف، وهو ما أفقدنى السيطرة على ذاتى. كنت- بمجرد استيقاظى فى الصباح الباكر- أجد نفسى رغما عنى فريسة لأفكار الانتحار التى لا أستطيع التغلب عليها طيلة النهار. هجرنى الجميع آنذاك، لأننى هجرت الجميع، هذه هى الحقيقة، ولأننى لم أعد أرغب فى رؤية أحد، ولم أعد أرغب فى شىء. لكننى جبُنت عن إنهاء حياتى بيدى. ربما عندما وصلت إلى قمة يأسى، لا أخجل من لفظ الكلمة، إذ لم أعد أرغب فى خداع ذاتى وتجميل شىء، ليس هناك ما يمكن تجميله فى مجتمع وعالم يُجمِّل باستمرار كل شىء بطريقة مقيتة، فى ذلك الوقت ظهر باول، وتعرفت إليه فى شارع بلومنشتوك عند صديقتنا المشتركة إرينا.” 26 likes
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