Thomas Bernhard: A Year of Videos in 2023
For 2023 I set myself the challenge of reading one of Thomas Bernhard's books each month and making a video about it. This was a much more difficult task than I imagined, but I remain committed to seeing this project through (though, clearly, it will take longer than 12 months to complete.)
3/12 - September: Goethe Dies - Uploaded to YouTube 2023/09/19 Thomas Bernhard, Goethe Dies (2016) The English translation of these four pieces is the work of James Reidel, and I am not alone in finding his efforts unsatisfactory. As I note in the video, there are missing pronouns, clauses that appear to be in the wrong tense, and, at times, some very strange syntax. One disgruntled reader, Douglas Robertson, has produced his own translation of the title story, that is, in my view, superior to Reidel's, though it's not without issues of its own. LINK (R) Matthias Konzett (editor), The Companion to the Works of Thomas Bernhard I drew on Gita Honegger's essay in this anthology, where she not only discusses the translation of Bernhard's works into English, but also mentions Bernhard's engagement with Goethe and his works. I used this to broaden my discussion of Goethe Dies, and to compare the relatively unsophisticated attack on Goethe in Extinction with that in Goethe Dies. Thomas Bernhard, The Lime Works The indirect presentation of multiple observers of the same events which Bernhard uses in the title story is most reminiscent of The Lime Works, where various conflicting accounts of the circumstances of Konrad's apparent killing of his wife are reported.
2/12 - February: Concrete - Uploaded to YouTube 2023/03/20 (R) Thomas Bernhard, Concrete (1982) I used the David McLintock translation. (R) Gita Honegger, Thomas Bernhard: The Making of an Austrian Honegger notes Bernhard once gave an interview in a cemetery, which appears to have prompted the ending of Concrete Google Maps A check on the location of Peiskam, where Rudolf resides, shows it's a one-minute drive from Ohlsdorf, where Bernhard lived. (R) Patrick Hamilton, The Slaves of Solitude Review: LINK Note how the foregrounding of microdialog in both works points to the protagonist in each case being a victim of bullying.
1/12 - January: Wittgenstein's Nephew - Uploaded to YouTube 2023/02/06 (R) Thomas Bernhard, Wittgenstein's Nephew (1982) There are two English translations, I used the David McLintock one. (R) Gita Honegger, Thomas Bernhard: The Making of an Austrian The best book in English that I have regarding Bernhard's career and writings. On WN, it provides plenty of context, noting that Bernhard and Paul were never admitted to the hospital at the same time and that the Ludwig Pavilion of WN does not exist. Denis Diderot, Rameau's Nephew (1805) This was not a very stimulating read. While there is one scene that directly echoes Paul's behavior of preempting the public's response to performances, and thus deciding their fate, the more interesting question would be to what extent it was Bernhard himself who identified with the fool. Zollan Ljingye, Curtain Very smart, but rather dis/unorganized essay on Rameau's Nephew and Wittgenstein's Nephew. Expresses one point well, that the counter-point between LW, PW, and TB, is supposed to call into question whether or not the 'more sane' LW and TB are not, in fact, as mad as Paul. Or, indeed, as sane. Ludwig Wittgenstein, Tractatus logico-philosophicus Source of the quote: "The limits of my language mean the limits of my world." Søren Kierkegaard, Journals and Notebooks, Vol. 2: Journals EE-KK Source of the remark re understanding backward/living forward: "It is quite true what philosophy says, that life must be understood backward. But then one forgets the other principle, that it must be lived forward. Which principle, the more one thinks it through, ends exactly with temporal life never being able to be properly understood, precisely because I can at no instant find complete rest to adopt the position: backward."