Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Bernhard: Prose

Thomas Bernhard's Prose, published in German in 1967 and available now in English comprises of sketches and short stories that, to those already familiar with his writings, will recognize the seeds of his future style and wit, which he was successfully to elaborate and develop upon. The themes which we face here, themes which he so masterfully developed later on are still in a rudimentary state but the caustic sometimes seering wit is evident. From middle aged gentlemen walking and thinking of killing themselves to hints of incest, from a critique of nearly everything of his favourite pastimes like art, theatre, and so on, Bernhard writes beautifully though not with the nonchalant ease of later novels. However, some of the stories or sketches have the same themes which he wrote in a longer form in novels such as Frost, Extinction, Cutting Timber and so on.

This new collection to his oeuvre is definitely for the Bernhard enthusiast and adds to the usually read books in English. There are some of the usual Bernhardisms and I found out some new ones, like destruction process, thought particles etc. The rants are not as long as one expects but on the whole, I enjoyed reading Prose. The stories draw from some real incidents especially those that Bernhard used to read avidly from newspapers, stories about crime, deceit and so on which allow him to develop his unique perception of all things human and further allow him to elaborate on sinister themes with that comic angle which makes it all the more sinister.

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