Bernhard, Thomas

Bernhard, Thomas,

1931–89, Austrian novelist and playwright. A literary descendent of KafkaKafka, Franz
, 1883–1924, German-language novelist, b. Prague. Along with Joyce, Kafka is perhaps the most influential of 20th-century writers. From a middle-class Jewish family from Bohemia, he spent most of his life in Prague.
..... Click the link for more information.
 and BeckettBeckett, Samuel
, 1906–89, Anglo-French playwright and novelist, b. Dublin. Beckett studied and taught in Paris before settling there permanently in 1937. He wrote primarily in French, frequently translating his works into English himself.
..... Click the link for more information.
, Bernhard wrote dense, intensely pessimistic and provocative works. Typically, his novels are composed of lengthy monologues and his protagonists are obsessive geniuses searching for unattainable perfection. His books include Frost (1963, tr. 2006), Verstörung (1967, tr. Gargoyles, 1970), Das Kalkwerk (1970, tr. The Lime Works, 1973), Korrektur (1975, tr. Correction, 1979), Concrete (1982, tr. 1984), Holzfällen (1984, tr. Woodcutters, 1988), and Auslöschung (1986, tr. Extinction, 1995). Both Bernhard's novels and his plays frequently reflect his contempt for his Austrian homeland and its history. His last play, Heldenplatz (1988), excoriated Austria's Nazis and its anti-Semitism and provoked a furor at its opening. His other plays include Die Jagdgesellschaft (1974, tr. The Hunting Party) and Der Schein trügt (1983, tr. Appearances Are Deceiving, 1983). He also wrote poetry and nonfiction.


See his autobiography (5 vol., 1975–82, tr. in 1 vol. as Gathering Evidence, 1985); biography by G. Honneger (2001); studies by S. D. Dowden (1991), J. J. Long (2001), T. J. Cousineau (2008), and M. Konzett, ed. (2010).