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Fiercely observed often hilarious and “reminiscent of Ibsen and Strindberg” The New York Times Book Review this exuisitely controversial novel was initially banned in its author’s homeland A searing portrayal of Vienna’s bourgeoisie it begins with the arrival of an unnamed writer at an ‘artistic. As I sat in my chair after reading of a man sat in a chair I thought what an odd darkly comic and nihilistically cold book this was The only thing I am sure of is I haven t read anything uite like it before I wouldn t have minded going for a drink with Mr Bernhard but if this is his idea of a dinner party I would decline the invitation and stay at home with a good book and some takeaway noodles The novel takes place over only a couple of hours but is told with large chunks of flashback thoughts so the time scale feels far greater and features an intolerable narrator who can t be bothered to leave the wing backed chair his derri re is comfortably planted on during an uncomfortable dinner party held in honour of an actor performing in a production of Ibsen s The Wild Duck The hosts the Auersbergers are a most unlikeable couple ignorant cultural snobs I though as I sat in my chair so unlikeable in fact that I actually started to like them the the story progressed the novel on the whole is a scathing attack on the futile pretentiousness at the heart of Austrian bourgeoisie society And Bernhard marvels in it s tellingAfter attending the funeral of friend Joana a suicide victim our narrator is off to the artistic dinner party after accepting to be a guest of the Auersbergers after bumping into them whilst out He hasn t been acuainted with them for many years and despises them with deep repugnance Still he goes along observing the rest of the despicable crowd from his winged chair waiting for what seems like an eternity for the actor to arrive He looks back over the past and reviews his grievances against his hosts and their pretentious friends and thinks hard and in such a flurry of disdain and his account is set down in one long paragraph that starts on the book s first page and doesn t close until the narrative concludes There are no chapters and no breaks it s all done in one long swoop The nonstop stream of consciousness is demanding of the reader but fully appropriate to this satirical jeremiad and he the narrator is consumed by a crotchety often vitriolic interior monologue which illuminates his own personality and his relationships with the other guests I thought as I sat in my chair Apparently many Viennese who feel worthy of greatness recognised themselves here and were upset at their depiction it s little wonder as there s little in the way of compassion Bernhard pretty much pokes fun and loathes most of those in the novelOn reading Bernhard for the first time there will definitely be to follow I thought as I sat in my chair the stunning writing in the first section had me hooked and even though it fell away slightly later on with an ending I am still pondering on overall I was well impressed After confronting a circular mass of sentences with a repetition of building into a dizzying wall of words seemingly intended to obscure meaning and prevent progress I slowly but surely accepted Bernhard s narrative and just went with it The narrator sees in his eyes some blame falling on the shoulders of the Auersbergers for Joana s death someone he was very close to but in fact the truth be told he is just as guilty as all the others of using those around below and above him to make his way to the top of society financially sexually any which way reallyIt felt like reading this with an annoying piece of lemon stuck in my mouth the sour taste throughout was unprecedented I cursed under my breath at every given opportunity for these nauseating characters but after a while the sickness wore off and down to the way Bernhard goes about his business I couldn t help but fall in with them

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Holzfällen Eine Erregung

Nst these former friends most of whom have been brought together by Joana a woman they buried earlier that day Reflections on Joana’s life and suicide are mixed with these denunciations until the famous actor arrives bringing an explosive end to the evening that even the writer could not have seen coming. This is a winged chairNothing spectacular Just a chairThis is a man in a winged chairHe is the observer the archetype of neurosisNeither are authentic to the story of Woodcutters but are significant in nature A man possibly perceived as having a sense of ubiuity mocks his old acuaintances but also mocks 19th century Viennese bourgeoisie society As this non forgiving self deprecating curmudgeon sits in his winged chair he displays his angst of the past and his hatred for the hypocrisy of the people who he has accepted an artistic dinner invitation from as they both learn of a mutual friend s suicideWhen this unrelenting attitude is not displayed from the winged chair it s from a dinner table as the actor arrives for whom they ve been waiting for The all inclusive dinner is reminiscent of this scene from Beetlejuiceand the actor a Tombstone esue Billy Zane type the one you love to hate as he conforms to the absurd and arrogant people to which he is a part of and then as characteristics are exposed you start to warm up to him as he blasts one of the guests as he transforms into the philosopher an unyielding man of emotionAs the dinner disperses for the late nightearly morning the narrator is the same yet reflective Knowing he hates the society for which he left but also knowing without it he wouldn t be who he is It is a lovehate relationship not only for Vienna but for himselfEntertaining and intelligent 4 stars easily

Thomas Bernhard í 2 Characters

Dinner’ hosted by a composer and his society wife a couple he once admired and has come to loathe The guest of honor a distinguished actor from the Burgtheater is late As the other guests wait impatiently they are seen through the critical eye of the writer who narrates a silent but frenzied tirade agai. In a prominent well trafficked gallery of the Bad Dinner Guest Hall of Fame we should logically expect to find the unnamed narrator of Thomas Bernhard s excoriating masterpiece Woodcutters who not only isolates himself from the other guests preferring a lone wing chair in the entryway to their generally detestable company but also spends the better part of the evening mentally dissecting dismantling and disparaging everyone who is unlucky enough to fall under his gaze At the long anticipated conclusion of the party the narrator admits that he only spoke twice once to ask a uestion of the guest of honor and later to insult the host Once he falls asleep and shrugs off the hostess testily when she tries to wake him Later he remains at the dinner table alone after everyone has retired to the music room Bernhard is preoccupied with antisocial characters to a remarkable extent It isn t merely that they confine themselves to a subculture or anti culture they are resolutely alone standing as a lone bulwark against a society they loathe and perhaps love but only as a side effect of intense familiarityI wonder about Austria don t you Both Bernhard and Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke seem to have harbored a virulent hatred of their native country While I sense the depths of their antipathy I wonder what it is that is peculiar to Austrian society that they dislike Is there an Austrian condition or a particular variety of decadence that can be defined or delimited from that of Europe or the Western World in general At any rate our proximity to our own homes wherever they may be at the moment affords us an ideal vantage from which to examine their faults Austria or America Uruguay or Uzbekistan Sri Lanka or Sudan There s nothing so revolting as the place where we shit There s nothing so instructive as the cultural claustrophobia of spending too many days among like kinds There s of course a comfort too Even in Bernhard s bleak appraisalThis novel should be read by Americans because Americans in general are too optimistic They think too highly of themselves and of the human species Or I should amend that statement Americans think too infreuently about themselves in a serious way reflectively critically and prefer to subsist on a high fat diet of platitudes new age aphorisms and moronic idealism This isn t to say that idealism is itself categorically moronic but the American brand often is It fails to take into account even the most basic constraints of reality It s saccharine false It s the mirage that leads the dying man farther into the desert I think the narrator s almost unmitigated bitterness is the or my antidote to the wan security a nation or society feels in itself whether ours or any other s Many readers may find the narrator s harping and ruthless judgments to be too radical a corrective We ve been instructed to regard cynicism with suspicion It is a cancerous affliction which undermines the effects of positivity and lightness of spirit There are all kinds of studies you know that seem to indicate that positive thinking heals us to some limited extent physically and psychologically But at what cost If I am here to live my life at the bidding of science fortune or both I d prefer not to live it anesthetized a disciple in the cult of can do ism I d rather sit alone in the wing chair and think to myself what a complete and total ass you are And by you I mean anybody

10 thoughts on “Holzfällen Eine Erregung

  1. says:

    The book is excellently readable and in my opinion this makes it a very good entry for people who have not read Bernhard yet But it contains everything that makes the books of Bernhard so readable repetitions cynicism polemics and yet a certain sense of humor

  2. says:

    As I sat in my chair after reading of a man sat in a chair I thought what an odd darkly comic and nihilistically cold book this was The only thing I am sure of is I haven't read anything uite like it before I wouldn't have minded going for a drink with Mr Bernhard but if this is his idea of a dinner party I would decline t

  3. says:

    Ok let’s just cut to the chase This work this novel this brilliantly flowing diatribe of comic vitriol is a work of pure consummate genius The writing the pacing the internal dialogue the word choice and probably

  4. says:

    Woodcutters is a story about the ruination of artistic hopes – it is a complex multilayered and caustic tale of life in the world of artsPeople hated me and everything I wrote and ganged up against me in the most vicious fashion whenever they saw me But ever since my return from London I had been on my guard against them against all the people I had known previously but above all against these so called artistic figures from the fifties

  5. says:

    In a prominent well trafficked gallery of the Bad Dinner Guest Hall of Fame we should logically expect to find t

  6. says:

    Before the year 2012 was out I needed my usual fix of Thomas Bernhard I've picked my favourite Holzfällen meaning literally Lumbering I've read this in German a long time ago This time round I wanted to tackle him through an English translationI've chosen the McLintock translation due to the raving reviews and I must say it never felt I was reading a translation At the end of this English version I wanted to read again the Germ

  7. says:

    This excellent monologue combines the acid wit of Sorrentino’s Imaginative ualities of Actual Things to another book whose title escapes me for the moment but will be added to the review upon remembering A melancholic and hilarious novel sans para breaks first Bernhard for me—assuming all of them are similar told from the perspe

  8. says:

    “I eagerly crack open the book and can feel myself getting smarter as I turn the first few pages At first even though it is really depressing this book excites me because it deals with mental health the arts a subject I am very interested in” Do you consider yourself an eclectic reader? Willing to broaden your horizo

  9. says:

    This is a winged chairNothing spectacular Just a chairThis is a man in a winged chairHe is the observer; the archetype of neurosisNeither are

  10. says:

    Brilliant bilious hilarious unsettling a breathlessly intense sustained novelistic experience that leaves you smiling and

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