13.1.11

Josipovici on Thomas Bernhard

Gabriel Josipovici weighs in on Bernhard's darkly comic prose
Thomas Bernhard
Writer and critic Gabriel Josipovici has written a lively and enthusiastic article for the New Statesman, declaring Thomas Bernhard 'the most truthful, the funniest and the most musical of writers since Marcel Proust':
Thomas Bernhard, Austria's finest postwar writer, was born in Holland in 1931, the illegitimate son of a housemaid, and died at his home in Upper Austria in 1989. His childhood was spent mainly with his maternal grandparents near Salzburg - his grandfather Johannes Freumbichler was a minor Austrian writer and, Bernhard claimed, one of the two most important figures in his life. The other, whom he sometimes referred to as his "Lebensmensch" or "life companion" and sometimes as his aunt, was a woman 37 years his senior, the widow of a civil servant, whom he met at a sanatorium for tuberculosis in 1949. Bernhard had always had a weak chest and the deprivations of the war years, exacerbated by having to lug sacks of potatoes from the cellar to the grocery where he had been apprenticed after leaving school, led to his hospitalisation in 1948. His "aunt" Hedwig helped him escape what he felt would be certain death in the sanatorium. After that, he briefly trained as a singer (abandoned because of his bad lungs) and then took a job as a crime reporter, before turning to writing full-time. [Read more]

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