Synopses & Reviews
Early one morning a doctor sets out with his son on his daily rounds through the forbidding mountainous countryside. Their visits, a succession of grotesque portraits—a diabetic industrialist living in incestuous isolation with his half-sister; three brothers, occupying a mill set in a deep gorge, who have just strangled a bevy of exotic birds; a crippled musical prodigy whose sister locks him in a cage—lead them to a castle and a paranoid prince, whose "almost uninterrupted monologue for a hundred pages is a virtuoso verbal performance . . . [in] an extraordinary, somber first novel."—A.C. Foote, Book World
"What he shares with the best of [writers such as Sartre, Camus, Mann, and Kafka] is the ability to extract more than utter gloom from his landscape of inconceivable devastation. While the external surface of life is unquestionably grim, he somehow suggests more—the mystic element in experience that calls for symbolic interpretation; the inner significance of states that are akin to surrealistic dream-worlds; man's yearning for health, compassion, sanity."—Robert Maurer, The Saturday Review
"The feeling grows that Thomas Bernhard is now the most original, concentrated novelist writing in German. His connections . . . with the great constellation of Kafka, Musil, and Broch become ever clearer."—George Steiner, Times Literary Supplement
"Like Swift, Bernhard writes like a sacred monster....A remarkable literary performer: he goes to extremes in ways that vivify our sense of human possibilities, however destructive". -- Richard Locke, Wall Street Journal
"The excellence of Bernard -- and it is a kind virtuosity, ably maintained in this American translation -- is to make his monotonous loathing not only sting but also, like Gould at the piano, sing". -- Paul Griffiths, Times Literary Supplement
About the Author
Thomas Bernhard (1931-89) grew up in Salzburg and Vienna, where he studied music. In 1957 he began a second career as a playwright, poet, and novelist. He went on to win many of the most prestigious literary prizes of Europe (including the Austrian State Prize, the Bremen and Brüchner prizes, and Le Prix Séguier), became one of the most widely admired writers of his generation, and insisted at his death that none of his works be published in Austria for seventy years, a provision later repealed by his half-brother.