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Thomas Bernhard

Biography

Though he is Austrian, Thomas Bernhard was actually born (in 1931) in a Dutch home for unwed mothers. He never knew his father, who did not acknowledge Bernhard as his son and who was killed in Germany during World War II. His mother, who was also illegitimate, later married another man. Bernhard grew up in the Salzburg area, often with various relations. His mother’s father, Johannes Freumbichler, a minor novelist, best known for Auszug und Heimkehr des Jodok Fink : ein Buch vom Abenteuer des Lebens, was an important influence. Bernhard was educated under the Nazis and then, after the War, by the Catholics and saw little to choose between them. At the age of sixteen he was apprenticed to a grocer, a position he enjoyed. He also took up singing at this time.

At the age of eighteen he became terminally ill with a lung disease but refused to die, even though he also contracted tuberculosis. The lung disease meant he could not be a singer but he did study acting and music and then worked a variety of odd jobs. He published some poetry and short stories before coming to prominence with his first novel, Frost (it means the same in German as in English). The frost was a metaphor for Bernhard’s ingrained pessimism and what he saw as a terminal disease gnawing away at Austria. In his second novel, Amras, he uses an extended monologue, a technique he used frequently in his later novels.

While he travelled to other countries, Bernhard lived all his life in Austria, despite his criticisms of it – a love-hate, as he described it. As well as his novels, he has also written several volumes of memoirs (many of them collected in the English volume Gathering Evidence). He died age fifty-eight at his farm in Gmunden, declaring in his will that none of his works may be published in Austria and none of his stage plays performed there for seventy years. He died in 1989.

Books about Thomas Bernhard

Botond, Anneliese: Über Thomas Bernhard. Frankfurt 1970 (in German)
Höller, Hans: Thomas Bernhard (in German)
Markolin, Caroline: Thomas Bernhard and His Grandfather Johannes Freumbichler
Thomas Bernhard, eine Begegnung : Gespräche mit Krista Fleischmann (in German)

Other links

Thomas Bernhard
Thomas Bernhard
Thomas Bernhard Archive (in English and Italian)
Failing To Go Under Stephen Mitchelmore reflects on the writing of Thomas Bernhard on the 10th anniversary of his death
Bernhard, Thomas (in German)
Thomas Bernhard Archive (in German)
Bernhardiana (in German)
Thomas Bernhard – Eine Existenzauslöschung (in German)
Thomas Bernhard (in German)
Thomas Bernhard (in German)
Thomas Bernhard (in German)
Thomas Bernhard (in German)
Thomas Bernhard (in German)

Bibliography

1957 Auf der Erde und in der Hölle: Gedichte
1958 In hora mortis (In Hora Mortis)
1958 Unter dem Eisen des Mondes (Under the Iron of the Moon) (poetry)
1959 Die Rosen der Einöde : fünf Sätze für Ballet, Stimmen und Orchester
1962 Der Kulterer
1963 Frost (Frost)
1964 Amras (Amras)
1966 Viktor Halbnarr – Ein Wintermärchen (Victor Halfwit, A Winter’s Tale)
1967 Prosa
1967 Verstörung (Gargoyles)
1968 Ein Fest für Boris (A Party for Boris)
1968 Ungenach: Erzählung
1968 Der Hutmacher
1969 An der Baumgrenze (stories)
1969 Ereignisse
1969 Watten: ein Nachlass (Playing Watten )
1970 Das Kalkwerk (The Lime Works)
1971 Gehen (Walking)
1971 Der Italiener (film)
1971 Midland in Stilfs: drei Erzählungen
1972 Der Ignorant und der Wahnsinnige
1974 Die Jagdgesellschaft (The Hunting Party)
1974 Der Kulterer. Eine Filmgeschichte
1974 Die Macht der Gewohnheit: Komödie (The Force of Habit: A Comedy)
1975 Korrektur (Correction)
1975 Der Präsident (The President)
1975 Die Ursache: eine Andeutung (An Indication of the Cause in Gathering Evidence)
1976 Die Berühmten
1976 Der Keller: eine Entziehung
1976 Der Wetterfleck: Erzählungen
1976 Minetti. Ein Portrait des Kunstler als alter Mann
1978 Der Atem: Eine Entscheiduing (Breath: A Decision in Gathering Evidence)
1978 Die Kälte: eine Isolation (In the Cold in Gathering Evidence)
1978 Immanuel Kant: Komödie
1978 Ja (Yes)
1978 Der Stimmenimitator (The Voice Imitator)
1979 Die Erzählungen
1979 Vor dem Ruhestand (Eve of Retirement; Before Retirement)
1979 Der Weltverbesserer
1980 Die Billigesser (The Cheap-Eaters)
1981 Ave Vergil: gedicht
1981 Am Ziel
1981 Die Salzburger Stücke
1981 Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh: Ein deutscher Dichtertag um 1980: Komödie (Over All the Mountain Tops)
1982 Beton (Concrete)
1982 Ein Kind (A Child in Gathering Evidence)
1982 Wittgensteins Neffe: eine Freundschaft (Wittgenstein’s Nephew: a Friendship)
1983 Der Schein trügt (Appearances are Deceiving)
1983 Die Stücke, 1969-1981
1983 Untergeher (The Loser)
1984 Holzfällen: eine Erregung (Cutting Timber: an Imitation; Woodcutters)
1984 Ritter, Dene, Voss (Ritter, Dene, Voss)
1984 Der Theatermacher (Histrionics)
1985 Alte Meister: Komödie (Old Masters)
1986 Auslöschung: ein Zerfall (Extinction)
1986 Einfach kompliziert
1987 Elisabeth II
1988 Der deutsche Mittagstisch: Dramolette
1988 Heldenplatz
1988 Die Irren; Die Häftlinge
1988 Stücke
1989 In der Höhe: Rettungsversuch, Unsinn (On the Mountain: Rescue Attempt, Nonsense)
1990 Claus Peymann kauft sich eine Hose und geht mit mir essen: drei Dramolette
1990 Histrionics: Three Plays (Translation of Ein Fest für Boris, Ritter, Dene, Voss, and Der Theatermacher)
1991 Gesammelte Gedichte
1992 André Müller im Gespräch mit Thomas Bernhard
2009 Meine Preise (My Prizes)
2010 Goethe schtirbt. Erzählungen
2011 Der Wahrheit auf der Spur. Reden, Leserbriefe, Interviews, Feuilletons
2013 Argumente eines Winterspaziergängers