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208 pages, Paperback
First published January 1, 1983
The so-called intellectual consumes himself in what he considers pathbreaking work and in the end has only succeeded in making himself ridiculous, whether he’s called Schopenhauer or Nietzsche, it doesn’t matter, even if he was Kleist or Voltaire we still see a pitiful being who has misused his head and finally driven himself into nonsense. Who’s been rolled over and passed over by history. We’ve locked up the great thinkers in our bookcases, from which they keep staring at us, sentenced to eternal ridicule.
...Salzburg, which at bottom is the sworn enemy of all art and culture, a cretinous provincial dump with stupid people and cold walls where everything without exception is eventually made cretinous....The town of Salzburg, which today is freshly painted in even its darkest corners and is even more disgusting than it was twenty-eight years ago was and is antagonistic to everything of value in a human being, and in time destroys it....The people of Salzburg have always been dreadful, like their climate, and when I enter the town today not only is my judgment confirmed, everything is even more dreadful....Glenn was charmed by the magic of this town for three days, then he saw that its magic, as they like to call it, was rotten, that basically its beauty is disgusting and that the people living in this disgusting beauty are vulgar. The climate of the lower Alps makes for emotionally disturbed people who fall victim to cretinism at a very early age and who in time become malevolent, I said.
Pero la gente no comprendió lo que quería decir, lo mismo que siempre que digo algo no comprende, porque lo que digo no quiere decir que haya dicho lo que he dicho, decía, pensé. Digo una cosa, decía, pensé, y digo algo totalmente distinto, por eso he tenido que pasarme toda la vida con malentendidos, nada más que malentendidos, decía, pensé. Para decirlo más exactamente, nacemos sólo en medio de malentendidos y, mientras existimos, no salimos ya de esos malentendidos, ya podemos esforzarnos lo que queramos, no sirve de nada. Esta observación, sin embargo, la hace todo el mundo, decía, pensé, porque todo el mundo dice algo ininterrumpidamente y es malentendido, en ese único punto se entienden sin embargo todos, decía, pensé. Un malentendido nos pone en el mundo de los malentendidos, que debemos soportar como compuesto sólo de puros malentendidos y que volvemos a dejar con un solo y gran malentendido, porque la muerte es el mayor de los malentendidos, según él, pensé.
Glenn, durante toda su vida, quiso ser el Steinway mismo, odiaba la idea de estar entre Bach y Steinway sólo como mediador musical, y de ser triturado un día entre Bach y Steinway, un día, según él, quedaré triturado entre Bach, por un lado, y Steinway, por otro, decía, pensé. Toda mi vida he tenido miedo de quedar triturado entre Bach y Steinway, y me cuesta el mayor esfuerzo sustraerme a ese temor, decía. Lo ideal sería que yo fuera el Steinway, que no necesitara a Glenn Gould, decía, que pudiera, al ser el Steinway, hacer a Glenn Gould totalmente superfluo. Pero todavía no ha conseguido ningún pianista hacerse a sí mismo superfluo, siendo Steinway, según Glenn. Despertar un día y ser Steinway y Glenn en uno, decía, pensé, Glenn Steinway, Steinway Glenn, sólo para Bach.
“El segundo es el primero de los perdedores” (Ayrton Senna)y aquel que puede llegar a vivir ese fracaso de la forma más cruel, añado yo. Este es el leitmotiv del libro, o uno de ellos, y recuerda mucho al conflicto Mozart-Salieri de la película Amadeus (aunque el libro es un año anterior a la película para mí es treinta años posterior).
El Zar recibe como regalo una manada de alces. Estos son llevados a un paraje ideal, que, para su protección, es declarado parque natural. En un primer momento todo va bien, los alces se adaptan estupendamente a su nuevo hogar, pero pasado un tiempo los alces empiezan a morir uno a uno. Muchos expertos intentan explicar el enigma sin conseguirlo. Como último recurso llaman a un experto residente en el lugar del que proceden los alces. Tras meses de observación llega a una conclusión: los alces se mueren porque les faltan los lobos.
"Here it is Bach's Goldberg variations, played by Glenn Gould, that provides as it were the basso continuo for Bernhard's own deliberately droning repetitions and variations. With the monologistic, uninterrupted flow of its sentences, the novel conjures up the image of a singer fighting to sustain his breath to the end of an impossibly long, embellished aria."
"Whatever I have written, whether published by me during my lifetime or as part of my literary papers still existing after my death, shall not be performed, printed or even recited for the duration of legal copyright within the borders of Austria, however this state identifies itself." <...> This parting slap in the face of his native country thus came not only as a surprise; it came from the hand of a dead man, whose laughter rang out from the grave.
I have never admired anything but have marvelled at many things during my life and I, can say, have marvelled the most in my life.I did marvel at Bernhard though. Written entirely in one single paragraph, unfolding mostly within the troubled walls of the narrator’s mind, the reading pattern alone was a striking experience. Repetitive yet fresh, discoloured yet brilliant, his style was the strong ribs of his unusual plot. As if a person was sitting across me and narrating his life’s mistakes and while I wanted to chide him for his stupidities, I ended up ordering a few more cups of coffees in the greed of pushing him to a point where he might mend, something.
For very often people who work with products of the intellect say they don’t hold something in high regard and on the contrary hold it in very high regard indeed, just won’t admit it because they’re ashamed of such inferior work, as they call it, bad-mouth their work so as not to have to be publicly ashamed of it at least.”
During his lifetime Thomas Bernhard's texts provoked more than an ordinary share of scandals. But perhaps the most enduring scandal will turn out to be his very last text, his will: 'Whatever I have written, whether published by me during my lifetime or as part of my literary papers still existing after my death, shall not be performed, printed or even recited for the duration of legal copyright within the borders of Austria, however the state defines itself.' Bernhard had taken care not to reveal the contents of his will before he died; in fact, he even stipulated that news of his death not be announced until he was buried. This parting slap in the face of his native country thus came not only as a surprise; it came from the hand of a dead man, whose laughter rang out from the grave.
"Nós em teoria compreendemos as pessoas, mas na prática não as suportamos, pensei, na maior parte das vezes só a contragosto lidamos com elas, e tratamo-las sempre de acordo com o nosso próprio ponto de vista."