Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Thomas Bernhard Review

The latest new york times book review also carries a review of Thomas Bernhard's first novel Frost which has just been translated into English for the first time.

Among 20th-century purveyors of gloom — think of Beckett, say, or Philip Larkin (“Deprivation is for me what daffodils were for Wordsworth”) — some of the most distinctively doom-ridden wrote in German, though not necessarily in Germany. The unnerving Austrian poet Georg Trakl, whom Wittgenstein so admired, dosed himself with narcotics to allay the horrors of the front in 1914. Kafka wove his nightmares in bureaucratic Prague. Canetti and Sebald, safe in England, remained haunted by the war-torn landscapes they had left behind. Of this saturnine company, Thomas Bernhard, who spent most of his life in Mozart’s city of Salzburg, may have had the darkest imagination of all.

I just finished reading my first Bernhard book Wittgenstein's Nephew and liked it a lot. I had read about how difficult and bleak his writing was but it was actually surprisingly easy to read. The tone of the book is very odd, it is bleak and cruel and yet in a strange way very sympathetic. Will write about it and copy a few quotes from the book later. Specially his tirade against the psychiatrists is worth quoting. It is quite funny.

Also the NYT review says that Frost is, "Possibly the bleakest of all Bernhard’s books, it is a sort of “Magic Mountain” without the magic, though it’s occasionally leavened by a quirky gallows humor." Strange, reading Wittgenstein's Nephew reminded me of Magic Mountain too. I had mentioned it in my post too!

NYT also has the first chapter from the book here.


jyothsnay said...

I tread on that frenzied migration, out of the veins of my cold flesh, naked...I trailed along with the bleak and unfaltering eye, as if hurt by a weapon, to "see the broadcasted version of a delicate world dressed in tainted and strenuous rags..."
I loved the train journey immensely....beautiful!

Alok said...

Hmm. your comments are very cryptic! :)

jyothsnay said...

umm, these days receivers say there's more to it than meets the eye, while the messenger stand bleary-eyed

Alok said...

damn these metaphors!!