I think that Bernhard is an interesting writer but not easy to comprehend in it’s entirety. I found aspects of Wittgenstein’s Nephew intriguing. The book is much about illness and depression so not always easy to read. Nevertheless even in translation there is a musicality to the prose. I remember the section on the Viennese café and the comments on the theatre. There is some ironic and dark humour too so definitely worth reading. On Wittgenstein I would recommend Ray Monk’s engaging biography.
Germans may be considered to be more severe, but the works of the best-known Austrian authors available in English make the Austrians seem even less jolly. Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989) at least does display a wicked sense of humour in much of his fiction, but he, Peter Handke (b.1942) and Nobel Laureate Elfriede Jelinek (b.1946) show a lot of angry intensity, tempered only by some melancholy, especially in Hendke’s later works. (The Complete Review Guide to Contemporary World Fiction, by Michael Orthofer, Columbia University Press, 2016.)
Well, I can vouch for that. Despite his recent Nobel, I am not inclined to read Handke, but my experience with Jelinek is that once was enough. And now that I’ve read two by Thomas Bernhard, that might be enough of that angry intensity too.
(Though Joe from Rough Ghosts enjoyed Wittgenstein’s Nephew so I remain open to trying that one too. …
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