Archive for the ‘Austria’ Category
World War I was the deadliest conflict in Western history, but contemporary portrayals of war in literature and cinema primarily focus on examples of combat from the past fifty or sixty years. At a time when the Great War is receding into the annals of distant history, this elegiac and edifying novel has been released–a small, slim but powerful story of a young soldier, Josef Vinich, who hails from a disenfranchised and impoverished family in rural Austria-Hungary.
May 25, 2011
Â· Judi Clark Â· One Comment
Tags: Bellevue, Mining, Real Event Fiction, Time Period Fiction, War Story, WWI Â· Posted in: Austria, Coming-of-Age, Debut Novel, Facing History, Reading Guide, US Frontier West, World Lit
I’d read wildly different reviews of a Thomas Bernhard book. One review was overwhelmingly positive while another review thought the same book (THE OLD MASTERS) pointless. After reading both reviews and salient quotes, I leaned towards the pointless reaction, but then again, the reviewersâ€™ reactions to the same book were so different, I was curious to try a Bernhard novel. This brings me to CONCRETE, and after reading it, I now understand how this author could provoke such vastly different reactions from readers.
WOODCUTTERS, originally written as part of a trilogy, is Bernhardâ€™s diatribe about his disgust, revulsion, loathing, hatred and vilification of the hypocrites and losers that make up the art circle in Vienna from the 1950â€™s through the 1980â€™s. In his unique style, with not one paragraph in nearly 200 pages, this novel is told primarily in stream of consciousness from the viewpoint of a writer, one not unlike Bernhard himself. The novel is in three identifiable parts â€“ the writer sitting in a wing chair observing a dinner party, the writer discussing his relationship with a recently deceased friend, and the conversations of an actor during dinner.
Christine Hoflehner, the postmistress in a small village in Austria, seems an unlikely Cinderella. Coming of age in the crippling poverty prevalent in Austria after the First World War, she is now twenty-six, barely holding out on her meager salary as a state employee, without social life, without future. But then a fairy godmother appears in the form of an aunt who has married well in America, who invites her to stay with them at a luxury hotel in the Swiss Alps. Once there, she lends her fashionable clothes, buys her expensive accessories, and takes her to a beauty salon to complete the transformation. Drab no longer, Christine is now the belle of the ball, courted by the rich and titled of several nations. It takes a week or more before her personal clock strikes midnight, but when it does and she flees home in shame, she can no longer be content with the humdrum life she had left behind. This becomes the story of a Cinderella after the ball, with no prince to appear with the glass slipper.
Thomas Bernhard is a wonderful wordsmith. He weaves his story in riffs like jazz motifs or the most beautiful of tapestries. In a tapestry, there may be repeat stitches but the colors and gauge change, the dynamic conspires to grow and become something else just as it is being created. Like a weaver or jazz musician, Bernhard repeats the essence of his message in many ways, giving the reader a marvelous opportunity to see into the protagonist’s mind. He is a natural story teller.
December 21, 2009
Â· Judi Clark Â· No Comments
Tags: 1960s, 1970s, Friendship, Real People Fiction, Thomas Bernhard Â· Posted in: Austria, Classic, Facing History, Translated, Unique Narrative, World Lit