Activity: Participating in or organising an event › Conference
Three decades after his death in 1989, Thomas Bernhard, one of the most significant post-war European writers, continues to fascinate. Although viewed in Austria as an enfant terrible during his own lifetime, increasingly Bernhard seems to have been subjected to a what the novelist Alexander Schimmelbusch terms a ‘Mozartisierung’, as is evident from the compendia of Bernhard quotations suitable to be given as presents, detailing, for example, his most vicious insults in a collection called Bernhard für Boshafte, his views on marriage in Die Ehehölle, or his vilifications of various European cities in Städtebeschimpfungen. Other ways to sweeten Bernhard’s bitter ironies include the glossy photobooks and memoirs which promise to shed light on ‘the real Thomas Bernhard’.
Yet beyond his Austrian and European reception and the Bernhard industry surrounding him, Bernhard’s works remain fascinating. They invite unconventional responses on at least three levels, characterised as they are by:
an innovative and inimitable (although much imitated) use of language, an unrelenting attention to Austrian history and contemporary politics, and an intensely psychological and dissecting depiction of human subjectivity.
The conference aims to develop new readings of Bernhard’s primary texts via these three interconnected strands: language, history and subjectivity.