ReadySteadyBlog

Via Steve over at This Space:


In May 2010, the first translation of Thomas Bernhard's early stories is due from Seagull Books, distributed by the University of Chicago Press. The website provides the following information: "First published in German in 1967, these stories were written at the same time as Bernhard’s early novels Frost, Gargoyles, and The Lime Works, and they display the same obsessions, restlessness, and disarming mastery of language. Martin Chalmer’s outstanding translation, which renders the work in English for the first time, captures the essential personality of the work. The narrators of these stories lack the strength to do anything but listen and then write, the reader in turn becoming a captive listener, deciphering the traps laid by memory—and the mere words, the neverending words with which we try to pin it down. Words that are always close to driving the narrator crazy, but yet, as Bernhard writes 'not completely crazy.'"

Stephen Mitchelmore on Thomas Bernhard -- my then completely empty house:


Today, the 11th day of this dark month, marks twenty years since the death of Thomas Bernhard. As I wrote in an essay to mark the tenth anniversary, the promise of an early demise from TB was necessary to his work. "Death is close to me now and so is winter" he wrote in his twenties. February is also his birth month.

What remains to be said about Thomas Bernhard? Sometimes, in the ten years since that indulgent essay meant to promote a writer who then demanded promotion, I have sensed a damaging influence; not only in the seductive, liberating style but also in the excess, the exaggeration of which he was so exaggeratedly proud. Yet then I read his story In Rome (translated Kenneth J. Northcott), in which Bernhard remembers Ingeborg Bachmann, and these regrets fall away, replaced by gratitude. (More...)

Good news from This Space:


German publishing house Suhrkamp has promised a "sensational release" during next year's Thomas Bernhard year. The publishing house will release Meine Preise (My Awards), a previously-unpublished prose text from 1980 (more...)

Thomas Bernhard "is often accused of writing novels that feel like cruel jokes. So dark, so difficult, and so misunderstood..." so writes Jessica Ferri (many thanks to Dave Lull for the link):


Bernhard offered me a language for these nascent, creeping feelings of misanthropy and also relief from them, with his melodrama and humour. I can't think of a writer who better captures the intensity and ridiculousness of big-city living. Bernhard's books are the only ones I want to open on the subway. He managed to capture the most beautiful aspects of life using the most wretched, miserable situations and characters. Such glimmers of humanity are similar to those brief moments of serenity that can be found on a crowded subway station, if one looks closely enough.

Richard, over at The Existence Machine, tackles Thomas Bernhard's Frost:


For those of us who care about such things, the publication last year, for the first time in English (translated from the German by Michael Hoffmann), of Bernhard's first novel, Frost, was a major literary event -- of significantly more importance than most of what seems to set the book world atwitter. Frost was originally published in 1963, twelve years before Correction (which is the earliest of the other Bernhard novels I own). Flipping through the book, right away differences are apparent: actual paragraph breaks! Rarely a paragraph longer than two pages! And, at 342 pages, the book is considerably longer than his other fiction (100-150 pages longer than Correction and The Loser, more than twice as long as both Old Masters and Concrete). In other ways, however, it quickly becomes clear that Bernhard's concerns in this novel were of a piece with his later fiction, though he had not yet refined his methods.