Humour Thomas Bernhard The Voice Imitator

ISBN 13: 9780226044026

The Voice Imitator

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9780226044026: The Voice Imitator

The Austrian playwright, novelist, and poet Thomas Bernhard (1931-89) is acknowledged as among the major writers of our times. At once pessimistic and exhilarating, Bernhard's work depicts the corruption of the modern world, the dynamics of totalitarianism, and the interplay of reality and appearance.

In this stunning translation of The Voice Imitator, Bernhard gives us one of his most darkly comic works. A series of parable-like anecdotes—some drawn from newspaper reports, some from conversation, some from hearsay—this satire is both subtle and acerbic. What initially appear to be quaint little stories inevitably indict the sterility and callousness of modern life, not just in urban centers but everywhere. Bernhard presents an ordinary world careening into absurdity and disaster. Politicians, professionals, tourists, civil servants—the usual victims of Bernhard's inspired misanthropy—succumb one after another to madness, mishap, or suicide. The shortest piece, titled "Mail," illustrates the anonymity and alienation that have become standard in contemporary society: "For years after our mother's death, the Post Office still delivered letters that were addressed to her. The Post Office had taken no notice of her death."

In his disarming, sometimes hilarious style, Bernhard delivers a lethal punch with every anecdote. George Steiner has connected Bernhard to "the great constellation of Kafka, Musil, and Broch," and John Updike has compared him to Grass, Handke, and Weiss. The Voice Imitator reminds us that Thomas Bernhard remains the most caustic satirist of our age.

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Review:

The work of late Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard was no one's idea of an uplifting read. Given to writing mostly dense, bleak, darkly comic, one-paragraph novels such as The Loser, Bernhard has rarely received the audience he deserves. The Voice Imitator, while unlikely to change this basic fact, does give us Bernhard's singularly pessimistic worldview in perhaps more digestible little chunks--some of them very little, indeed. (Here is the entirety of the short story "Mail": "For years after our mother's death, the Post Office still delivered letters that were addressed to her. The Post Office had taken no notice of her death.")

In fact, none of the 104 stories collected here are longer than a page--and with the tremendous variety of disaster and tragedy they contain (e.g., suicide, disappearance, murder, madness, corruption), there's not much room for characterization or plot. These read more like fragments, anecdotes, or snippets of news stories than conventional short narratives. Despite their brevity, however, these stories display all the signature elements of the Bernhardian oeuvre: cynicism, misanthropy, contempt for his native country, and withering scorn for the futility of all human effort. They might be an acquired taste--but one with undeniable force. With his black humor, deadly satire, and loathing for bureaucracy, Bernhard is the spiritual heir of writers such as Kafka, Grass, and Beckett--perhaps on a very bad day.

From the Back Cover:

In The Voice Imitator, translated by Kenneth Northcott, Bernhard gives us one of his most darkly comic works. A series of parable-like anecdotes - some drawn from newspaper reports, some from conversation, some from hearsay - this satire is both subtle and acerbic. What initially appear to be quaint little stories indict the sterility and callousness of modern life, not just in urban centers but everywhere. Bernhard presents an ordinary world careening into absurdity and disaster. Politicians, professionals, tourists, civil servants - the usual victims of Bernhard's inspired misanthropy - succumb one after another to madness, mishap, or suicide.

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 2nd. 215 x 140 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In The Voice Imitator, translated by Kenneth Northcott, Bernhard gives us one of his most darkly comic works. A series of parable-like anecdotes -- some drawn from newspaper reports, some from conversation, some from hearsay -- this satire is both subtle and acerbic. What initially appear to be quaint little stories indict the sterility and callousness of modern life, not just in urban centers but everywhere. Bernhard presents an ordinary world careening into absurdity and disaster. Politicians, professionals, tourists, civil servants -- the usual victims of Bernhard s inspired misanthropy -- succumb one after another to madness, mishap, or suicide. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780226044026

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Book Description The University of Chicago Press, United States, 1998. Paperback. Book Condition: New. 2nd. 215 x 140 mm. Language: English . Brand New Book. In The Voice Imitator, translated by Kenneth Northcott, Bernhard gives us one of his most darkly comic works. A series of parable-like anecdotes -- some drawn from newspaper reports, some from conversation, some from hearsay -- this satire is both subtle and acerbic. What initially appear to be quaint little stories indict the sterility and callousness of modern life, not just in urban centers but everywhere. Bernhard presents an ordinary world careening into absurdity and disaster. Politicians, professionals, tourists, civil servants -- the usual victims of Bernhard s inspired misanthropy -- succumb one after another to madness, mishap, or suicide. Bookseller Inventory # AAC9780226044026

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