Thomas Bernhard, Prose

A new collection of short stories, translated by Martin Chalmers
Thomas Bernhard in 1957. Photograph: Helmut Baar/Getty Images
Mina Holland reviews the new translation of Thomas Bernhard's Prose, translated by Martin Chalmers:
The neuroticism and cruelty on display in these seven newly translated short stories leave you short of breath but entirely absorbed – or, more accurately, entrapped. The theme of imprisonment runs through the collection, and Thomas Bernhard forces us to confront his characters' sense of confinement with dizzying, claustrophobic whirls of syntax. We too feel the craze-inducing "sleeplessness" (the word hypnotically repeated throughout the narrative) of the new tutor in "Two Tutors", and grasp the pain of Georg's deformity in "The Crime of an Innsbruck Shopkeeper's Son": "Every morning he woke up in the firmly locked cell of a new age-old day." What translator Martin Chalmers describes as Bernhard's "verbal logjam" evokes madness and suffering to the extent that we experience them ourselves. [Read more]

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