By Thomas Bernhard
Rather than the booklet he’s intended to jot down, Rudolph, a Viennese musicologist, produces this darkish and grotesquely humorous account of small woes writ huge, of profound horrors designated and rehearsed to the purpose of distraction. We research of Rudolph’s sister, whose support he invitations, then reviles as malevolent meddling; his ‘really very good’ condominium, which he hates; the suspicious disease he rigorously nurses; his ten-year-long try and write the fitting establishing sentence; and, ultimately, his break out to the island of Majorca, which seems to be the positioning of somebody else’s very genuine horror story.
A awesome and haunting story of procrastination, failure, and depression, Concrete is an ideal instance of why Thomas Bernhard is remembered as “one of the masters of up to date eu fiction” (George Steiner).
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In an earlier novel, Gargoyles, the narrator who is accompanying his father, a country doctor, on his rounds notices a group of schoolchildren in a restaurant. ‘They were given hot soup and admonishments not to make noise. ’ The tragedy is both that children grow into gruesome adults and that those who are unable to do so are destroyed. In Bernhard’s novels childhood is usually only present as a need, as something missing rather than fulfilled. A need which is thwarted by the indifference, if not positive antagonism of adults.
I saw that I had an unhealthy posture. But then I’m not healthy — I’m thoroughly sick, I told myself. Sitting like that, I told myself, you’ve already written a few pages on Mendelssohn Bartholdy, perhaps ten or twelve. That’s how I sit at the desk when I’ve written ten or twelve pages. I stood motionless and observed the posture of my back. That’s the back of my maternal grandfather, I thought, about a year before his death. I have the same posture, I told myself. Without moving I compared my own back with my grandfather’s, thinking of a particular photograph that had been taken only a year before his death.
We can’t stand male company, which bores us to death, or female company either. I gave up male company for years because it’s totally unprofitable, and female company gets on my nerves in no time. Admittedly I’d always credited my sister with the ability to rescue me from the hell of being alone, and, to be honest, she often has succeeded in dragging me out of the black, hideous, revolting, stinking bog of loneliness, but lately she has no longer had the strength, and probably not the will either; perhaps she has doubted for too long whether I am really serious, as is proved, after all, by the way she continually teases me unmercifully about Mendelssohn Bartholdy.