Thomas Bernhards Trilogie der Künste

Thomas Bernhards Trilogie der Künste

Der Untergeher, Holzfällen, Alte Meister

Gregor Hens


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Camden House



Study of the three most signficant late works of the Austrian novelist and playwright Thomas Bernhard. (In German language.)
Three late prose works of the Austrian novelist and playwright Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989), published between 1983 and 1985, display a number of interesting similarities and intertextual references in form and content. They are considered here as a single, trilogy-like work, replacing the monumental Extinction (which appeared in 1986 but was completed as early as 1981/2) as Bernhard's magnum opus. Taking as its point of departure a close textual analysis, the work attempts to unveil the internal construction of the novel rather than second-guess the author and his intentions. The underlying model for this project is Nabokov's famous reading of Kafka's "Metamorphosis." The three novels under consideration share a common core of narrative structure. Each one derives its composition from the form of art that is also central to the plot: music, drama, and painting respectively. In all three works, the untenability of the narrative situation is thematized. As the inherent perspective is dissolved, the musical, dramatic, and compositional structures are revealed that form the basis of these prose experiments.


October 1999
304 pages
9x6 in
Studies in German Literature Linguistics and Culture
ISBN: 9781571130389
Format: Hardback
Camden House
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Table of Contents

Vorbemerkung (Preface)
Den anderen und umgekehrt--Der Untergeher
Bevor es zu spät ist--Holzfällen
Mein Reden in Ruhe--Alte Meister
In die Kunst davongeschlichen


Hens has written a compelling study of these novels and of the whole question of art and the artist in Bernhard's works. It is clearly a major contribution to the ... growing secondary literature on the most important Austrian writer in the last half of the 20th century. MONATSHEFTE The material brought together here is impressive in that it reveals much about Bernhard's relationship to music, literature, and plastic art. GERMANISTIK

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