Short Stories, Irish literature, Classics, Modern Fiction, Contemporary Literary Fiction, The Japanese Novel, Post Colonial Asian Fiction, The Legacy of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and quality Historical Novels are Among my Interests

Friday, November 21, 2014

Concrete by Thomas Bernhard (1982)

There are still ten days left in German Literature Month IV.  Lots of time left to participate. There are already over a hundred posts, reading through them will give you lots of great reading ideas.

The schedule and guidelines for participation are on the event webpage.  Just reading the  posts of all the other participants is tremendously informative. There is an interesting contest or two and some prizes to be won.  One of the tasks participants are charged with is reading a work first published in 2014 and this collection qualifies.  

I am very happy to be once again participating in German Literature Month, hosted by Caroline of Beauty is a Sleeping Cat and Lizzy of Lizzy's Literary Life.   Events like this are one of the great things about being part of the international book blog community.  I know there is a lot of work that goes into a month long event and I offer my thanks to Lizzy and Caroline

Works I have so far read for German Literature Month 2014

1.   Siddhartha by Hermann Hesse

2.   Gertrude by Hermann Hesse 

3.  "Diary of a School Boy" by Robert Walser (no post)

4.  Steppenwolf by Herman Hesse

5.  Burning Secret by Stefan Zweig 1925

6.  Life Goes On by Hans Keilson

7.  Comedy in a Minor Key by Hans Keilson

8.  "The Wall" by Jurek Becker

9.  "Romeo" by Jurek Becker

10.   "The Invisible City" by Jurek Becker.

11.  Wittgenstein's Nephew by Thomas Bernhard

12. "Dostoevsky's Idiot" by Robert Walser

13.  "French Newspapers" by Robert Wasler 

14.  Jakob the Lier by Jurek Becker

15.  The Trial by Franz Kafka 1915,

16.  "The Seamstress" by Rainer Maria Rilke  1894

17.  "The Experiement or the Victory of Children" by Unica Zürn 1950

18.  "The Star Above the Forest" by Stefan Zweig. 1924

19.  "Saint Cecilia or the Power of Music" by Heinrich von Kleist 1810

20.  Amok by Stefan Zweig 1923

21.  Concrete 1982

Concrete is my second novel by the highly regarded German novelist, Thomas Bernhard (1931 to 1989).  My first was Wittgenstein's Nephew, which I liked enough to expand by reading of Bernhard.  A bit of research indicated that perhaps his highest regarded novel is Concrete so I decided to read it next.  I liked both novels a lot, with no clear preference emerging.  

Both novels are a long, one paragraph monolgue/rant by a highly cultured, very intelligent slightly unbalanced and a bit paranoid wealthy  man living in Vienna.  Concrete starts out with his plans to write a book about a composer he greatly admires. He talks about all of the research he has done.  Then he begins one of numerous diatribes about how his sister is totally undermining his ability to work.  After a while we begin to see the narrator through the sister's eyes.  He keeps coming back to how the sister is ruining his work.  She is a wealthy real estate investor and he despises her world of money while living off his inheritance. The persona screams out Steppenwolf  to me.  His only love in life is classical music.  

He then kind of raves on about all the things he hates about Vienna followed by an account of why he cannot really move.  He is heavily medicated and we learn the minutiae of his daily routine. 

I liked this book a lot though I am not quite sure why.   The narrator reminds me of brilliant old friend from long ago who always would rant on about how everyone around him was either and idiot or a crook.

I did some more research and his other books sound similar.  I think I will next read his Gargoyles and then take it from there.

Mel von ü


Jonathan said...

It sounds pretty good. I like literary rants and when I was looking at Bernhard's work to see which one to start with this one jumped out at me.

Marina Sofia said...

Yes, I think I've known some people like that too. Great example of self-delusion, I think.