• Britain's first book blogger (November 2000)
  • "Perhaps the best resource in English on European modernist literature" – Irish Times
  • "the shameful lowlands of writing" – Kafka
  • Also available in book form

Friday, March 16, 2007

I see a darkness ... and hear Thomas Bernhard

Above is a video of Ben Marcus reading from Thomas Bernhard's novel Correction during last month's evening of readings in New York. Also, don't miss the brief performance of an Austrian diplomat reading Bernhard in the original. Any idea from which work he's reading? My guess is Walking.
Whereas, before Karrer went mad, I used to go walking with Oehler only on Wednesdays, now I go walking--now that Karrer has gone mad--with Oehler on Monday as well. Because Karrer used to go walking with me on Monday, you go walking on Monday with me as well, now that Karrer no longer goes walking with me on Monday, says Oehler, after Karrer had gone mad and had immediately gone into Steinhof. And without hesitation I said to Oehler, good, let's go walking on Monday as well.


  1. Anonymous6:43 pm

    Are you sure that passage isn't trying to drive us mad also, Steve?


  2. Yes, if madness and hilarity are indistinguishable.

  3. strange....I am reading correction at present and the audio actually enhances the amusing elements of Roithamer's monologue.
    when one reads Bernhard, the actual effect seems a certain menace rather than hilarity....there is a rhetorical insistence, a kind of obssessive tug at words. but when one speaks the words out loud, they seem comic.
    the audio destroys the poetry of his words....any thoughts?

  4. All performed readings seem different from the silent reading experience. Haven't really thought about why that should be. Perhaps it's because when one reads one becomes intimate with the narrator - a colluding twin - whereas when it's spoken, there is confrontation.

    In Bernhard's case, all those things - menace, hilarity, obsession, poetry - are one. I can't/won't separate them.

  5. the austrian diplomat is reading from somewhere at the beginning of 'Holzfaellen' (translated as woodcutters or cutting timber), clearly indicated because of the 'sogenannte kuensterlische Abendessen'. This book caused a major scandal, because he makes some fun of some people who had earlier had socially & financially sponsored Bernhard.
    Holzfaellen is actually one of my favourites, it is great how Bernhards notions on theatre and Ibsen in this book fall together.
    Wonderful moment when he describes the old actor saying these words about woodcutting.
    Anyway I disagree, I think Bernhard is great to be read aloud, there his whole overkillnotion of freedom can finally unfold and perfect examples for a good performance are Traugott Buhre and Kirsten Dene or the Peyman Dramolette. I always thought his books should be printed in bold or so, to do justice to this overwhelming power.

  6. Thanks Antonia. I was guessing without knowing German. I thought I heard the word for trousers and there's a scene in a tailors in 'Walking'. It also gave me an excuse to post that passage from it.

    I love the idea of a novel printed in bold.

  7. actually it is easy to think that it is from 'Walking' but on the other hand in so many books he so often walks in Vienna, grumpying around, that I didn't dare to make the conclusion only from this moment of walking....for me the mention of the dinner/Abendessen was the decisive hint.
    Of course it is always nice to have a reason to post some Bernhard, but trousers could have been easily the Peymannthing, where he and Peymann go and buy trousers (very nice as well actually)...oh i hope to find this one day on youtube...
    yes, a Bernhard in bold - and fontsize 14 or something like that... anyway thanks for digging this stuff out.

  8. Anonymous1:56 am

    Hello --

    The diplomat -- Martin Rauchbauer of the Austrian Cultural Forum in New York -- is reading the closing sentences of Woodcutters.

    Jonathan Taylor
    New York



Please email me at steve dot mitchelmore at gmail dot com.

Blog Archive


Contact steve dot mitchelmore at gmail.com. Powered by Blogger.