Instead of the book he's meant to write, Rudolph, a Viennese musicologist, produces this dark and grotesquely funny account of small woes writ large, of profound horrors detailed and rehearsed to the point of distraction. We learn of Rudolph's sister, whose help he invites, then reviles as malevolent meddling; his 'really marvelous' house, which he hates; the suspicious illness he carefully nurses; his ten-year-long attempt to write the perfect opening sentence; and, finally, his escape to the island of Majorca, which turns out to be the site of someone else's very real horror story.
A brilliant and haunting tale of procrastination, failure, and despair, "Concrete" is a perfect example of why Thomas Bernhard is remembered as "one of the masters of contemporary European fiction" (George Steiner).
About the Author
Thomas Bernhard (1931-89) grew up in Salzburg and Vienna, where he studied music. In 1957 he began a second career as a playwright, poet, and novelist. He went on to win many of the most prestigious literary prizes of Europe (including the Austrian State Prize, the Bremen and Bruchner prizes, and Le Prix Seguier), became one of the most widely admired writers of his generation, and insisted at his death that none of his works be published in Austria for seventy years, a provision later repealed by his half-brother.
Thomas Bernhard was born in 1931 and grew up in Salzburg and in Vienna, where he studied music. In 1957 he began a second career as a playwright, poet, and novelist. A winner of the three most distinguished and coveted literary prizes awarded in Germany, he is one of the most widely translated and admired writers of his generation. His works already published in English include the novels Gargoyles, Tire Lime Works, Correction, Concrete, Woodcutters, Wittgenstein's Nephew, and The Loser, and a memoir, Gathering Evidence. A number of his plays have been produced off-Broadway and at the Tyrone Guthrie Theatre in Minneapolis, and at theaters in London and throughout Europe. Thomas Bernhard died in 1989.
For his translations of works by Thomas Bernhard, David McLintock was awarded an Austrian state prize in 1986, and in 1990 he won the SchlegelTieck Prize for his translation of Heinrich Boll's Women in a River Landscape. Mr. McLintock graduated from Oxford University, studied in Munster and Munich, and now lives in London.
“Certain books—few—assert literary importance instantly, profoundly. This is one of those—a book of mysterious dark beauty.”
—Los Angeles Times
“A masterpiece. . . . [Bernhard’s] world is so powerfully imagined that it can seem to surround you like little else in literature.”
—The New Yorker
“Something of a tour-de-force.”
—The Washington Post
“Where rage of this intensity is directed outward, we often find the sociopath, where inward, the suicide. Where it breaks out laterally, onto the page, we sometimes find a most unsettling artistic vision.”
—Sven Birkerts, The New Republic