A Companion to the Works of Thomas Bernhard

A Companion to the Works of Thomas Bernhard

Edited by Matthias Konzett


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New essays by leading scholars on major aspects of the most significant Austrian writer of the postwar generation.
Since the death of Thomas Bernhard in 1989, the literary reputation of this complex and unique writer has risen to the point that he is now regarded as a major European figure. Bernhard emerged in the 1960s as one of Austria's major writers, challenging the popularity of such established writers as Heinrich Böll and Günter Grass on the German literary scene. His idiosyncratic prose consists of a tragic-comic blend of themes such as suicide, madness, and isolation combined with highly satirical and histrionic invectives against culture, tradition, and society. As a skillful impresario of public scandals by means of verbal assaults upon Austrian elite culture, Bernhard also earned himself the epithet of Übertreibungskünstler (artist of exaggeration). In this art of cultural and political provocation Bernhard remains unmatched to the present day. This volume of essays provides contributions by well-known critics that examine the most salient aspects of Bernhard's work, offering insights into literary strategies and public themes that made Bernhard one of Europe's masters of modern prose and drama. Essays examine Bernhard's complex artistic sensibility, his impact on Austria's critical memory, his relation to the legacy of Austrian Jewish culture, his representative value as Austria's prime literary export, and his cosmopolitanism and its significance for the rapidly changing multicultural landscape of Europe.

Matthias Konzett is Associate Professor of German at Yale University. He is the author of The Rhetoric of National Dissent in Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke, and Elfriede Jelinek (Camden House, 2000).

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Table of Contents

Introduction: National Iconoclasm: Thomas Bernhard and the Austrian Avant-garde - Matthias Konzett
Perverted Attitudes of Mourning in the Wake of Thomas Bernhard's Death - Marlene Streeruwitz
The Established Outsider: Thomas Bernhard - Dagmar C. G. Lorenz
A Testament Betrayed: Bernhard and His Legacy - Stephen D. Dowden
Homeland, Death, and Otherness in Thomas Bernhard's Early Lyrical Works - Paola Bozzi
The Broken Window Handle: Thomas Bernhard's Notion of Weltbezug - Ruediger Goerner
Thomas Bernhard's Poetics of Comedy - Wendelin Schmidt-Dengler
Fragments of a Deluge: The Theater of Thomas Bernhard's Prose - Mark M. Anderson
The Stranger Inside the Word: From Thomas Bernhard's Plays to the Anatomical Theater of Elfriede Jelinek - Gitta Honegger
Costume Drama: Performance and Identity in Bernhard's Works - Andrew J. Webber
Language Speaks: Anglo-Bernhard: Thomas Bernhard in Translation - Gitta Honegger
Ungleichzeitigkeiten: Class Relationships in Bernhard's Fiction - Jonathan Long
Thomas Bernhard's Der Untergeher: Newtonian Realities and Deterministic Chaos - Willy Riemer
My Latest Encounter with Bernhard - Marlene Streeruwitz


Succeeds marvelously in placing Bernhard within the context of postwar Austria. GERMAN QUARTERLY

The present volume makes clear that the curtain has not yet fallen [on Bernhard] by a long way. MONATSHEFTE

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