Author bio

Author Image

Thomas Bernhard - book author

Thomas Bernhard was an Austrian author, who ranks among the most distinguished German speaking writers of the second half of the 20th century.

Although internationally he's most acclaimed because of his novels, he was also a prolific playwright. His characters were oftenly working in a lifetime and never-ending major work while they deal with themes such as suicide, madness and obsession and, as Bernhard did, they use to have a love-hate relation with Austria. His prose was tumultuous but sober at the same time, philosophic in the background, with a musical cadency and plenty of black humor.

He started publishing in the year 1963, with the title "Frost". His last published work, appeared in the year 1986, was "Extinction". Some of his most well known works include "The loser" (where he ficitionalizes about Glenn Gould), "Correction" and "Woodcutters".

Thomas Bernhard is the author of books: The Loser, Wittgenstein's Nephew, Woodcutters, Correction, Concrete, Old Masters: A Comedy, Extinction, Gargoyles, Heldenplatz, Frost

Author Signature

Author Books

#
Title
Description
01
Thomas Bernhard was one of the most original writers of the twentieth century. His formal innovation ranks with Beckett and Kafka, his outrageously cantankerous voice recalls Dostoevsky, but his gift for lacerating, lyrical, provocative prose is incomparably his own.

One of Bernhard's most acclaimed novels, The Loser centers on a fictional relationship between piano virtuoso Glenn Gould and two of his fellow students who feel compelled to renounce their musical ambitions in the face of Gould's incomparable genius. One commits suicide, while the other—the obsessive, witty, and self-mocking narrator—has retreated into obscurity. Written as a monologue in one remarkable unbroken paragraph, The Loser is a brilliant meditation on success, failure, genius, and fame.
02
It is 1967. In separate wings of a Viennese hospital, two men lie bedridden. The narrator, Thomas Bernhard, is stricken with a lung ailment; his friend Paul, nephew of the celebrated philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, is suffering from one of his periodic bouts of madness. As their once-casual friendship quickens, these two eccentric men begin to discover in each other a possible antidote to their feelings of hopelessness and mortality — a spiritual symmetry forged by their shared passion for music, a strange sense of humor, disgust for bourgeois Vienna, and fear in the face of death. Part memoir, part fiction, Wittgenstein’s Nephew is both a meditation on the artist’s struggle to maintain a solid foothold in a world gone incomprehensibly askew, and an eulogy to a real-life friendship.
03
This controversial portrayal of Viennese artistic circles begins as the writer-narrator arrives at an 'artistic dinner' given by a composer and his society wife—a couple that the writer once admired but has now come to loathe. The guest of honor, an actor from the Burgtheater, is late. As the other guests wait impatiently, they are seen through the critical eye of the narrator, who begins a silent but frenzied, sometimes maniacal, and often ambivalent tirade against these former friends, most of whom were brought together by the woman whom they had buried that day. Reflections on Joana's life and suicide are mixed with these denunciations until the famous actor arrives, bringing a culmination to the evening for which the narrator had not even thought to hope.

"Mr. Bernhard's portrait of a society in dissolution has a Scandinavian darkness reminiscent of Ibsen and Strindberg, but it is filtered through with a minimalist prose. . . . Woodcutters offers an unusually strange, intense, engrossing literary experience."—Mark Anderson, New York Times Book Review

"Musical, dramatic and set in Vienna, Woodcutters. . . .resembles a Strauss operetta with a libretto by Beckett."—Joseph Costes, Chicago Tribune

"Thomas Bernhard, the great pessimist-rhapsodist of German literature . . . never compromises, never makes peace with life. . . . Only in the pure, fierce isolation of his art can he get justice."—Michael Feingold, Village Voice

"In typical Bernhardian fashion the narrator is moved by hatred and affection for a society that he believes destroys the very artistic genius it purports to glorify. A superb translation."—Library Journal
04
Roithamer, a character based on Wittgenstein, has committed suicide having been driven to madness by his own frightening powers of pure thought. We witness the gradual breakdown of a genius ceaselessly compelled to correct and refine his perceptions until the only logical conclusion is the negation of his own soul.
05
Instead of the book he's meant to write, Rudolph, a Viennese musicologist, produces this tale of procrastination, failure, and despair, a dark and grotesquely funny story of small woes writ large and profound horrors detailed and rehearsed to the point of distraction.

"Certain books—few—assert literary importance instantly, profoundly. This new novel by the internationally praised but not widely known Austrian writer is one of those—a book of mysterious dark beauty . . . . [It] is overwhelming; one wants to read it again, immediately, to re-experience its intricate innovations, not to let go of this masterful work."—John Rechy, Los Angeles Times

"Rudolph is not obstructed by some malfunctions in part of his being—his being itself is a knot. And as Bernhard's narrative proceeds, we begin to register the dimensions of his crisis, its self-consuming circularity . . . . Where rage of this intensity is directed outward, we often find the sociopath; where inward, the suicide. Where it breaks out laterally, onto the page, we sometimes find a most unsettling artistic vision."—Sven Birkerts, The New Republic
06
Old Masters (subtitled A Comedy) is a novel by the Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard, which was first published in 1985. It tells of the life and opinions of Reger, a 'musical philosopher', through the voice of his acquaintance Atzbacher, a 'private academic'.
The book is set in Vienna on one day around the year of its publication, 1985. Reger is an 82-year-old music critic who writes pieces for The Times. For over thirty years he has sat on the same bench in front of Tintoretto's White-bearded Man in the Bordone Room of the Kunsthistorisches Museum for four or five hours of the morning of every second day. He finds this environment the one in which he can do his best thinking. He is aided in this habit by the gallery attendant Irrsigler, who prevents other visitors from using the bench when Reger requires it.
07
Thomas Bernhard is one of the greatest twentieth-century writers in the German language. Extinction, his last novel, takes the form of the autobiographical testimony of Franz-Josef Murau. The intellectual black sheep of a powerful Austrian land-owning family, Murau lives in self-exile in Rome. Obsessed and angry with his identity as an Austrian, he resolves never to return to the family estate of Wolfsegg. But when news comes of his parents' deaths, he finds himself master of Wolfsegg and must decide its fate.

Written in Bernhard's seamless style, Extinction is the ultimate proof of his extraordinary literary genius.
08
The playwright and novelist Thomas Bernhard was one of the most widely translated and admired writers of his generation, winner of the three most coveted literary prizes in Germany. Gargoyles, one of his earliest novels, is a singular, surreal study of the nature of humanity.

One morning a doctor and his son set out on daily rounds through the grim mountainous Austrian countryside. They observe the colorful characters they encounter—from an innkeeper whose wife has been murdered to a crippled musical prodigy kept in a cage—coping with physical misery, madness, and the brutality of the austere landscape. The parade of human grotesques culminates in a hundred-page monologue by an eccentric, paranoid prince, a relentlessly flowing cascade of words that is classic Bernhard.
09
Am 15. März 1938 verkündete Adolf Hitler unter den Jubelrufen der anwesenden Wiener auf dem Heldenplatz den »Anschluß« Österreichs an Deutschland. 50 Jahre später versammeln sich in einer Wohnung in der Nähe des Heldenplatzes die Familie Schuster und deren engste Freunde. Der Anlaß: das Begräbnis von Professor Josef Schuster. Für diesen philosophischen Kopf, von den Nazis verjagt, in den fünfziger Jahren auf Bitten des Wiener Bürgermeisters aus Oxford auf seinen Lehrstuhl zurückgekehrt, gab es keinen anderen Ausweg als den Selbstmord. Denn die Situation im gegenwärtigen Österreich sei »noch viel schlimmer als vor fünfzig Jahren«.
10
Visceral, raw, singular, and distinctive, "Frost" is the story of a friendship between a young man at the beginning of his medical career and a painter who is entering his final days.
A writer of world stature, Thomas Bernhard combined a searing wit and an unwavering gaze into the human condition. "Frost" follows an unnamed young Austrian who accepts an unusual assignment. Rather than continue with his medical studies, he travels to a bleak mining town in the back of beyond, in order to clinically observe the aged painter, Strauch, who happens to be the brother of this young man's surgical mentor. The catch is this: Strauch must not know the young man's true occupation or the reason for his arrival. Posing as a promising law student with a love of Henry James, the young man befriends the mad artist and is caught up among an equally extraordinary cast of local characters, from his resentful landlady to the town's mining engineers.
This debut novel by Thomas Bernhard, which came out in German in 1963 and is now being published in English for the first time, marks the beginning of what was one of the twentieth century's most powerful, provocative literary careers.