Thomas Bernhard on Uncanny Primates

An extract from The Voice Imitator
Thomas Bernhard. Photograph by Erika Schmied

In one of the 104 short stories that comprise The Voice Imitator, Thomas Bernhard describes an uncanny encounter with primates:
Even though I have always hated zoological gardens and actually find that my suspicions are aroused by people who visit zoological gardens, I still could not avoid going out to Schönbrunn on one occasion and, at the request of my companion, a professor of theology, standing in front of the monkeys' cage to look at the monkeys, which my companion fed with some food he had brought with him for the purpose. The professor of theology, an old friend of mine from the university, who had asked me to go to Schönbrunn with him had, as time went on, fed all the food he had brought with him to the monkeys, when suddenly the monkeys, for their part, scratched together all the food that had fallen to the ground and offered it to us through the bars. The professor of theology and I were so startled by the monkeys' sudden behavior that in a flash we turned on our heels and left Schönbrunn through the nearest exit.

Thomas Bernhard, 'The Tables Turned'
in The Voice Imitator
Translated by Kenneth J. Northcott
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