Synopses & Reviews
It is 1967, in a Viennese hospital. In separate wards: the narrator named Thomas Bernhard, is stricken with a lung ailment; his friend Paul, nephew of Ludwig Wittgenstein, is suffering fom one of his periodic bouts of madness. Bernhard traces the growth of an intense friendship between two eccentric, obsessive men who share a passion for music, a strange sense of humor, brutal honesty, and a disgust for bourgeois Vienna.
"[Wittgenstein's Nephew is] a meditative fugue for mad, brilliant voices on the themes of death, death-in-life and the artist's and thinker's role in society . . . oddly moving and funny at the same time."—Joseph Coates, Chicago Tribune
"Mr. Bernhard's memoir about Paul Wittgenstein is a 'confession and a guilty homage to their friendship; it takes the place of the graveside speech he never delivered. In its obsessive, elegant rhythms and narrative eloquence, it resembles a tragic aria by Richard Strauss. . . . This is a memento mori that approaches genius.'"—Richard Locke, Wall Street Journal
"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and insisted at his death that none of his works be published in Austria for seventy years, a provision later repealed by his half-brother.