On A Park Bench With Bernhard

bernhard-leadAndrew Katzenstein writes: ‘In “Thomas Bernhard: Three Days,” a documentary filmed in Hamburg in 1970, the Austrian novelist and playwright says, “As far as I am concerned, I am no writer, I am somebody who writes.” For Bernhard—known for his rant-like novels, at once devastating and entertaining, that criticize

seemingly everything in a torrent of piercing observations and mordant epigrams—this distinction was crucial. Many of his clever, caustic narrators are artists or writers, such as the failed concert pianist in The Loser, the misanthropic Austrian musicologist in Concrete, and the writer in Woodcutters who recalls his hatred of old artistic acquaintances in Vienna. These cantankerous, lonely men see vanity, hypocrisy, and idiocy everywhere, and believe that they can only escape condemnation by showing the world its own folly. Perhaps because of the almost redemptive value they place on art, their strongest rebukes are aimed at hacks—artists who seem more interested in fame and accolades than in the creation of meaningful work.’

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