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Concrete

by Thomas Bernhard

Instead of the book he's meant to write, Rudolph, a Viennese musicologist, produces this dark and grotesquely funny account of small woes writ large, of profound horrors detailed and rehearsed to the point of distraction. We learn of Rudolph's sister, whose help he invites, then reviles as malevolent meddling; his 'really marvelous' house, which he hates; the suspicious illness he carefully nurses; his ten-year-long attempt to write the perfect opening sentence; and, finally, his escape to the island of Majorca, which turns out to be the site of someone else's very real horror story. A brilliant and haunting tale of procrastination, failure, and despair, Concrete is a perfect example of why Thomas Bernhard is remembered as "one of the masters of contemporary European fiction" (George Steiner).

Correction

by Thomas Bernhard

The scientist Roithamer has dedicated the last six years of his life to "the Cone," an edifice of mathematically exact construction that he has erected in the center of his family's estate in honor of his beloved sister. Not long after its completion, he takes his own life. As an unnamed friend pieces together--literally, from thousands of slips of papers and one troubling manuscript--the puzzle of Rotheimer's breakdown, what emerges is the story of a genius ceaselessly compelled to correct and refine his perceptions until the only logical conclusion is the negation of his own soul. Considered by many critics to be Thomas Bernhard's masterpiece, Correction is a cunningly crafted and unforgettable meditation on the tension between the desire for perfection and the knowledge that it is unattainable.

Extinction

by Thomas Bernhard

From the late Thomas Bernhard, arguably Austria's most influential novelist of the postwar period, and one of the greatest artists in all twentieth-century literature in the German language, his magnum opus.Extinction, Bernhard's last work of fiction, takes the form of the autobiographical testimony of Franz-Josef Murau, the intellectual black sheep of a powerful Austrian land-owning family. Murau lives in Rome in self-imposed exile from his family, surrounded by a coterie of artistic and intellectual friends. On returning from his sister's wedding to the "wine-cork manufacturer" on the family estate of Wolfsegg, having resolved never to go home again, Murau receives a telegram informing him of the death of his parents and brother in a car crash. Not only must he now go back, he must do so as the master of Wolfsegg. And he must decide its fate.Divided into two halves, Extinction explores Murau's rush of memories of Wolfsegg as he stands at his Roman window considering the fateful telegram, in counterpoint to his return to Wolfsegg and the preparations for the funeral itself.Written in the seamless style for which Bernhard became famous, Extinction is the ultimate proof of his extraordinary literary genius. It is his summing-up against Austria's treacherous past and -- in unprecedented fashion -- a revelation of his own incredibly complex personality, of his relationship with the world in which he lived, and the one he left behind.A literary event of the first magnitude.

Frost

by Thomas Bernhard

Visceral, raw, singular, and distinctive, Frost is the story of a friendship between a young man at the beginning of his medical career and a painter who is entering his final days. A writer of world stature, Thomas Bernhard combined a searing wit and an unwavering gaze into the human condition. Frost follows an unnamed young Austrian who accepts an unusual assignment. Rather than continue with his medical studies, he travels to a bleak mining town in the back of beyond, in order to clinically observe the aged painter, Strauch, who happens to be the brother of this young man's surgical mentor. The catch is this: Strauch must not know the young man's true occupation or the reason for his arrival. Posing as a promising law student with a love of Henry James, the young man befriends the mad artist and is caught up among an equally extraordinary cast of local characters, from his resentful landlady to the town's mining engineers.This debut novel by Thomas Bernhard, which came out in German in 1963 and is now being published in English for the first time, marks the beginning of what was one of the twentieth century's most powerful, provocative literary careers. From the Hardcover edition.

Gargoyles

by Thomas Bernhard

The playwright and novelist Thomas Bernhard was one of the most widely translated and admired writers of his generation, winner of the three most coveted literary prizes in Germany. Gargoyles, one of his earliest novels, is a singular, surreal study of the nature of humanity.One morning a doctor and his son set out on daily rounds through the grim mountainous Austrian countryside. They observe the colorful characters they encounter -- from an innkeeper whose wife has been murdered to a crippled musical prodigy kept in a cage -- coping with physical misery, madness, and the brutality of the austere landscape. The parade of human grotesques culminates in a hundred-page monologue by an eccentric, paranoid prince, a relentlessly flowing cascade of words that is classic Bernhard. From the Trade Paperback edition.

The Lime Works

by Thomas Bernhard

For five years, Konrad has imprisoned himself and his crippled wife in an abandoned lime works where he's conducted odd auditory experiments and prepared to write his masterwork, The Sense of Hearing. As the story begins, he's just blown the head off his wife with the Mannlicher carbine she kept strapped to her wheelchair. The murder and the bizarre life that led to it are the subject of a mass of hearsay related by an unnamed life-insurance salesman in a narrative as mazy, byzantine, and mysterious as the lime works--Konrad's sanctuary and tomb.

The Loser

by Thomas Bernhard

Thomas Bernhard was one of the most original writers of the twentieth century. His formal innovation ranks with Beckett and Kafka, his outrageously cantankerous voice recalls Dostoevsky, but his gift for lacerating, lyrical, provocative prose is incomparably his own.One of Bernhard's most acclaimed novels, The Loser centers on a fictional relationship between piano virtuoso Glenn Gould and two of his fellow students who feel compelled to renounce their musical ambitions in the face of Gould's incomparable genius. One commits suicide, while the other-- the obsessive, witty, and self-mocking narrator-- has retreated into obscurity. Written as a monologue in one remarkable unbroken paragraph, The Loser is a brilliant meditation on success, failure, genius, and fame.From the Trade Paperback edition.

My Prizes: An Accounting

by Thomas Bernhard

A gathering of brilliant and viciously funny recollections from one of the twentieth century's most famous literary enfants terribles. Written in 1980 but published here for the first time, these texts tell the story of the various farces that developed around the literary prizes Thomas Bernhard received in his lifetime. Whether it was the Bremen Literature Prize, the Grillparzer Prize, or the Austrian State Prize, his participation in the acceptance ceremony--always less than gracious, it must be said--resulted in scandal (only at the awarding of the prize from Austria's Federal Chamber of Commerce did Bernhard feel at home: he received that one, he said, in recognition of the great example he set for shopkeeping apprentices). And the remuneration connected with the prizes presented him with opportunities for adventure--of the new-house and luxury-car variety. Here is a portrait of the writer as a prizewinner: laconic, sardonic, and shaking his head with biting amusement at the world and at himself. A revelatory work of dazzling comedy, the pinnacle of Bernhardian art.

Wittgenstein's Nephew

by Thomas Bernhard

It is 1967. In separate wings of a Viennese hospital, two men lie bedridden. The narrator, named Thomas Bernhard, is stricken with a lung ailment; his friend Paul, nephew of the celebrated philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, is suffering from one of his periodic bouts of madness. As their once-casual friendship quickens, these two eccentric men begin to discover in each other a possible antidote to their feelings of hopelessness and mortality--a spiritual symmetry forged by their shared passion for music, strange sense of humor, disgust for bourgeois Vienna, and great fear in the face of death. Part memoir, part fiction, Wittgenstein's Nephew is both a meditation on the artist's struggle to maintain a solid foothold in a world gone incomprehensibly askew, and a stunning--if not haunting--eulogy to a real-life friendship.

Woodcutters

by Thomas Bernhard

Fiercely observed, often hilarious, and "reminiscent of Ibsen and Strindberg" (The New York Times Book Review), this exquisitely controversial novel was initially banned in its author's homeland. A searing portrayal of Vienna's bourgeoisie, it begins with the arrival of an unnamed writer at an 'artistic dinner' hosted by a composer and his society wife--a couple he once admired and has come to loathe. The guest of honor, a distinguished actor from the Burgtheater, is late. As the other guests wait impatiently, they are seen through the critical eye of the writer, who narrates a silent but frenzied tirade against these former friends, most of whom have been brought together by Joana, a woman they buried earlier that day. Reflections on Joana's life and suicide are mixed with these denunciations until the famous actor arrives, bringing an explosive end to the evening that even the writer could not have seen coming.

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