zaterdag 8 oktober 2011

reading thomas bernhard - richard burgin

[…] While Bernhard is certainly sui generis, he is also part of a tradition of inspired twentieth-century monologists that includes, among others, the aforementioned Proust, Céline, Beckett, Sartre, Camus, and Bove. Each of these writers, in turn, drew upon the example of Dostoyevsky’s dark and masterful nineteenth-century monologue Notes From Underground—perhaps the work that most influenced both Bernhard and the course of twentieth-century fiction in general. From its outset with Dostoyevsky, the extended monologue has been both intellectually and emotionally subversive and steeped in both psychological and physical illness. Notes From Underground begins with Dostoyevsky’s protagonist announcing his sickness, and Rudolf, the narrator of Bernhard’s most exemplary novel, Concrete, proclaims in his first sentence "the third acute onset of my sarcoidosis." That’s but the first of many parallels between the two novellas. Both the Underground Man and Rudolf are middle-aged men living in isolation—simultaneously sick and hypochondriacal. Moreover, Dostoyevsky and Bernhard immediately reveal that their protagonists’ monologues come from actual documents they are writing which describe their own maladies, as well as those that plague mankind in general. In today’s parlance we would probably classify them as obsessive-compulsives whose confessions are written because of their inability to act decisively on other fronts. […]

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