Woodcutters by Thomas Bernhard my 300th review

Woodcutters by Thomas Bernhard

German title Holzfällen: Eine Erregung,

Austrian fiction

Translator – David McLintock

Source – library

Well after reading the corrections earlier this year ,I felt I need another fix of him before the year was out ,so when this had appeared in the library system I ordered it in .So I said a bit about him in my post earlier this month so I ll add this gobbit .In his last will ,he had banned all future productions and editions of his books within Austria for the remaining length of the copyright .This dislike of the system of arts and appreciation of arts within Austria is apt for this book .

While everyone was waiting for the actor ,who had promised to join the dinner party in the Gentzgasse after the premier of “The Wild Duck ” ,I observed the Auersbergers carefully from the same wing chair I had sat in nearly every day during the fifties , reflecting that it had been a grave mistake to accept their invitation .

Our narrator sat at the start of the book .

The arty types of Vienna have just been to the Burgtheater to see the latest production a version of the Henrik Ibsen play “the wild ducks “(Which opens as a dinner party is about to start rather like this book ) .So the arty folk all arrive at the Ausbergers house awaiting dinner and the chance to meet the star of the show .We meet our Narrator he is sat in a wing backed chair .we know this as it is frequently mentioned .The narrator is by his opinion an outsider of the group have recently returned to Vienna .So as the nights go on we see the actor ripped apart by the guests and the whole art scene in Vienna dissected piece by piece ,this is interrupted as the narrator adds his own feelings on this as well .The evening moves on and as the drink flows the arguments and observations grow stronger .

At this point the actor suddenly started recounting anecdotes ,the kind of theatrical anecdotes that always go down well in Vienna and provide life support for many a Viennese party that would otherwise be in danger of dying of paralysis .Most Viennese parties are able to survive for a few hours only because of these anecdotes .

Parties can dive into boredom our narrator tells us

Well this is what I love about Bernhard intense prose that just drag you in you feel as thou you are the narrator ,he is a writer but maybe not the best or maybe not as well thought of as he should be either way you feel this in some part this is Bernhard himself thinly veiled .It is in a lot of ways about how you view art to appreciate it or pull it apart at the seams and seemingly pull talented people apart because of minor flaws .I was reminded as I read this of one particular episode of Frasier where Niles and Frasier were meant to go to the theatre to see a famous actor but due to a mistake end up spending the show outside due to the own pretensions not letting them loose face and end up meeting and talking to the star even thou they missed the show completely .You feel in this book you are in a room of Austrian Nile’s and Frasier’s ,they would slide in so well with the crowd in the book .I think this is my favourite by him and maybe a good place to start with Bernhard as it isn’t overly long .Oh and fitting choice to be the 300th review on Winstonsdad

Have you read this book ?

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The Gordian Knot by Bernhard Schlink

The Gordian Knot by Bernhard Schlink

german title -Die Gordische Schleife

German Fiction

Translator – Peter Constantine

Well German lit month is drawing to a close again and I had hope to read this in time for Bernhard Schlink week ,but time went against me so I include it here .This is the third Schlink book I ve covered on the blog and the fifth I have read .I must say this is a change from the others ,Being his first novel is a radical shift in style it is a thriller ,written by him self he had earlier co written a novel .

“And to the nameless professor ,who tried to teach me how to cut through the Gordian knot ” he sat down “I reread the story about Alexander the great and the Gordian knot . it was just as the professor said many had tried to unravel the knot ,but Alexander simply cut through it with his sword .

The title is mention on the last page .

SO The Gordian Knot takes it title from a story of Greek mythology Involving a man who had became king and the gods gave him an impossible Knot to untie ,this was there to Alexander the great ,he cut the knot this giving to a phrase cutting the Gordian knot meaning thinking outside the box .Anyway back to the book it is a thriller we meet a translator Georg Polger ,he is struggling till a job turns up translating plans for a military helicopter .This all happens in the office of mr Bulnakov ,also in the office is Mr Bulnakov secretary Francoise .Well Georg and Francoise fall in love .But then he is shock to discover her one day copying the plans he has translated .Before he has time to confront her she has disappeared ,then a chance mention about a photo she had ,that he shows to friend he says is somewhere in europe he friend says no it is New york so he heads of to New York and find out who the women he fell in love with really is in real life .This is a novel about spies and people getting caught up in that world .

“It’s the cathedral in Warsaw where her parents were married ”

A short while later Georg’s friend asked to see the photograph again .

“it isn’t a particularly good one “Georg said .”She didn’t like being photographed ,so often took snapshots of her when she wasn’t looking .Though some pictures did turn out quite ….”

That’s not Warsaw .I know that church can’t think of its name it’s in New York.

First hint that Francoise isn’t quite what she seemed to Georg .

 

 

Well this was a real change from Schlink usual soul of the nation style fiction  .That said it was a page turner thou in the style of an airport thriller  or Holiday read ,well that isn’t quite  fair it is slightly better than them .In fact the two things in reading this I was most remind of was firstly Graham Greene Georg is a hapless guy caught up in a spy story but he doesn’t realise it ,rather like James Wormold in our man in Havana he is not the sharpest tool in the box .The other thing I was reminded of was the world of Alfred Hitchcock I felt Francoise is a classic femme fatale the sort women that frequently crops up in Hitchcock films and could have been played by Kim Novak or Eva Marie  Saint  .So this isn’t the most taxing or deep of Schlink books but it is a cracking read and great to see where it all started for him as a writer .Always nice see a publisher taking chance on an earlier book by a writer .

Have you read this book ?

Do you like to see writers earlier works translated ?

 

The Hunger Angel by Herta Muller

The hunger angel by Herta Muller

German  title Atemschaukel

Translator Philip Boehm

Source – review copy

Well this is the third book from the German /Romanian Nobel winning writer  Herta Muller ,Every time I try her books I found myself more drawn into her style and quirky imagery and wordplay .She is a true one-off, this book is another that is set partly in her homeland of Romanian but this time it is in the mid forties as the war is drawing to an end .We see how the German Romanian suffered at the hands of the Soviets .

What can be said about chronic hunger .Perhaps that there’s a hunger that can make you sick  with hunger .That it comes in addition to the hunger you already fell .Then there is a hunger which is always new ,which grows insatiably ,which pounces on the never-ending old hunger that already took such effort to tame .

Leo on hunger when he has been at the camp a while .

We meet Leo he is in his teens and he is a German Romanian just like Herta Muller is herself .We see his life as he is caught up in the post world war two events ,as Romania side with the Germans the Soviets are now rounding up all the German connected Romanians Like Leo to send to the Labour camps ,WE see how this young man caught up in this copes with the horrors of a labour camp we see how a normal man ,this man has a poet’s eye as you will see from who it based on ,has to struggle and change to cope with the system in the camps and is thus on the other side is a broken man and maybe not as free as he seems  .It seems that Muller largely based Leo on Oskar Pastior a German Romanian like Muller ,she was friends with him and they had planned to write this book together meeting near the end of his life and making a journey to the place he had been sent in the old soviet union (now in Ukraine ) to get a feel for the man here is him reading one of his own poems in German  but Oskar passed  away before they could  finish the project ,so this is her take on his time in a labour camp from what she learned in the time they spent together ..

There are also other partners .

I’ve danced with the teapot .

With the sugar bowl .

With the biscuit tin.

With the telephone .

With the alarm clock .

With the ashtray .

With the house key .

This poem on the last page sounds like Paitor from the two poems I ve read and is Leo when he is free or is he ?

 

Well it is an easy piece to compare this to Aleksandra Solzhenitsyn one day in the life .. and in some ways Darkness at noon by Koestler .Both of which show the horror of the labour camps or soviet prison system (yes I know darkness never says it is russia but it is implied that it is ).It does and it doesn’t ,I feel it is Muller own unique style that maybe sets this above the others and the clever use of the Hunger angel metaphor ,each person has their own Hunger angels in their minds what form it takes is unique to each of them .Another hard look into her own origins and that of her fellow German Romanians .Like in her other books they always seem stuck between two worlds and not of one place or the other not Romanian or German and this is rather like Muller’s writing that always seems misplaced not quite german and not quite east european , it is always uniquely her .Another great read for Lizzy’s and Caroline’s German lit month

Have you read this book ?

Do you have a favourite book set in the labour camps ?

 

Winters in the south by Norbert Gstrein

Winters in the South by Norbert Gstrein

orginal title Die Winter im Süden,

Austrian Fiction

Translators – Anthea Bell and  Julian Evans

Source – review copy

Well Norbert Gstrein name was new to me when this book dropped through my door a few weeks ago ,but a quote from the great W G Sebald on Gstrein last book that was translated into english over ten years ago “an exceptional work of prose fiction” So Norbert Gstrein who is he Well he grew up in a small hidden village in the Tyrol in Austria ,his brother is a famous ski racer ,he was interested in maths early in his life ,he later studied it a university ,but after that took up writing it was his novel english years that first caught the eye that was his third this Winter in the South is his sixth of the seven he has written .

It was in her second month in Zagreb in the autumn the war began ,that the news reached Marija that made her life Foreign to her for ever .She had not set eyes on her father for more than forty – five years ,and had thought he was dead for almost as long, so at first she did not react at all to the advertisement that the neighbours had left outside her door and that couldn’t possibly have been from him.

the book opens as Marija world is thrown doubly into chaos .

 

Winter in the south ,is a book about people and war ,but more about  two wars the second world war and the Balkan conflict .The two main people are Marija a women in her fifties whose marriage on rocky ground ,but is returning to her native Croatia and to Zagreb ,as this happens her father who fled leaving he Marija and her mother as he was a well-known Croatian fascist in the second world war ,he ran to Argentina .But the father is now drawn by the war and splitting of Yugoslavia and the return of Fascism maybe to Croatia ,also to get to know the daughter he hasn’t seen for over fifty years .But will she forgive ,is he to old for war ? Do people change ,where is home and what is important to people is it family or politics that  matters ?

Whenever he felt like breathing some life into the stalemate of his Zagreb existence he talked about Buenos Aires in the same homesick way he talked about Croatia back in Argentina .

The father is maybe a man now with no homeland after he returns

This book is full of threads a classic piece of central European writing a book that dives into the soul of people and what drives them  .The prose follows ,the father flight from Vienna after a killing in 1945 ,his following life in Argentina (having just read Gombrowicz diaries on his time in Argentina it was interesting to see a fictional take on living there ).Then there is his daughter life in the Croatia of the nineties that is beginning to drift towards the madness of war again .Gstrein shows both the personnel cost of war ,the story of a family broken apart after the second world war .But also the echos in the conflict in Yugoslavia that hark back to  as the old wounds of world war two surfaced as the war began ,as the fact that the two major part of Yugoslavia had been on different sides in the war .Then the father why is this man in his seventies at ,east so willing to go to war again ?As many of you that read this blog on a regular basis know I have a soft spot for Balkan conflict stories  and also for fiction set round Argentina ,due to time working in the nineties with many refugees in Germany from this war .Anthea Bell and Julian Evans have managed to make this complex work come alive in English and yet again another great selection from Machlehose one does wonder why it has been ten years between translations for a writer with seven novels and a number of prizes for his books ,He seems a hidden gem of Austrian writing .

Have you read his earlier book The English years ?

 

I was born There ,I was born Here by Mourid Barghouti

I was born there ,I was born Here by Mourid Barghouti

Palestine memoir

Translator – Humphrey Davies

Source – Review copy

I was sent this late last year read it but never got to review it but just at the moment seems the right time to review it ,with the current situation in Gaza .I reviewed his earlier book I saw Ramallah .Mourid Barghouti is a Palenstine Poet   .He grew up in Ramallah in Palenstie ,he went in the late sixties to study in Egypt and was caught in Egypt by the six day war .Thus he spent the next thirty years in Exile first in Egypt where he married a well known Egyptian writer ,then he spent time in Hungary as a representative of the PLO.He returned in 1996 for the first time to Palenstine ,this made up the earlier book I reviewed I saw Ramllah ,this book is kind of a follow up .

The passengers don’t appear particularly upset at the news of the impending attack announced by Mahmoud .In fact ,the fat passenger sitting in front of me in the middle seat comments sacastically “as if the film needed more action! every day they kill us retail and once in a while they get the urge to kill us wholesale .Big deal !

From section with the driver Mahmoud the everyday living under attack

I was born There ,I was born Here is a collection of snippets of life through Barghouti eyes ,we meet his driver whilst he is Palestine at a literature festival Mamhoud ,we see him telling Mourid his view on life in Palestine ,living under constant attack  and how they just cope with it as part of there lives .Elsewhere we see how the world of writers have been involved when he meets Jose Saramago a writer who once compared Ramallah’s situation to that at Auschwitz .There is a great story about the struggle to get from place to place when they are stopped by some soldiers at a roadblock in Israeli .Showing his son his birth place in Deir Ghassana is a touching moment .

“You are in violation of the law ”

“What’s the driver’s license got to do with you ? Are you a traffic policeman ? Only the Palestinian traffic police can punish me ,which it will have the right to do .This is what the argeement between us says ”

“I don’t know anthing about agreements .Screw agreements .Here the only law is the law of the state of Israel understood ?

A conversation when there car is stopped en route to Deir Ghassanah

Like I saw Ramallah the poet in Mourid Barghouti has a keen observer eyes among the struggle of everyday life in modern Palestine is a dry wit ,the fact that yes life is hard but they can most of the time see humour in the situations they find  . Now it hard to take sides in the conflict between Palestine and Israeli .But I find reading books from both sides makes you think how bad things are especially for the Palestinian people that seem to have been given the rough end of the deal completely after the formation of Israeli . I do often wonder where all this will end up (having grown up with half my family from ulster ,I know there can be some hope for many years ago that situation seemed to be with out end the some how managed to sort itself out ) .So I hope you read this book and get an insight into the everyday in Palestine.Another wonderful translation by Humphrey Davies from Arabic .A last wordfrom me  my heart goes out to those on both sides that have needlessly lost there lives in recent days  .

Do you have a favourite Palenstine writer ?

Advento no brasil Feliz Natal advent in Brazil

Sorry for my Portuguese speaking  friends if my title isn’t  quite right , Well I ve been going on for months if not years about the rise in Chinese fiction I felt was due (although I’ve not overly connect with Chinese fiction ) I have also had a back of my head that Brazil is going be a world power soon if it is  not already  I ve been wanting to do something Brazilian fiction as a little introduction and to build to a bigger Project when they host the  world cup in 2014 I m sure that Brazilian fiction may be the next Nordic crime  as these events get nearer people will want to learn and hopefully read fiction from Brazil .They also Have the  next Olympics in 2016 .So When Kimbfo ask for Brazilian books to read recently it set me thinking about my lack of Brazilian reading ,I have two books I ve reading recent  weeks .There is also the recent Michael Palin series set in Brazil which has given me a little background and knowledge of brazil as a whole  to also give me a nudge .So over next month December I will post on the books read and some I am getting ,also maybe talk a bit about things Brazilian I ve enjoyed over the years .I promise it won’t all be football but there will be some I mean to me as a child Brazil meant foot ball names like Pele ,Carlos Alberto ,Zico and Socrates conjured images of sun and great football skills .So you will learn maybe who Neymar is as well as who Joaquin Maria Machado de Assis .

Recent books from Brazil I ve read –

House of the Fortunate Buddhas by João Ubaldo Ribeiro

the second a new offering from Machlehose press

The Spies by Luís Fernando Veríssimo

Then the new issue of Granta is a Brazilian writer collection ,and I seen my library system has a Clarice Lispector novel(not the new ones thou if I get chance I may get one of these ). so that makes four books from Brazil at the moment  and a chance to turn December into a celebration of Brazilian Fiction for myself and Hopefully you as well ,so lets Samba on down over the end of year and Christmas .So if you’d like join and read some books from Brazil  please  tell me and we can all Samba in the cold of our December or the heat if your down under  .

 

 

 

 

 

Summer Lies by Bernhard Schlink

Summer Lies by Bernhard Schlink

German fiction (short stories )

Translator – Carol Brown Janeaway

Source review copy

Now I am a huge fan  Schlink’s works ,he studied law and now is a professor of law  ,he  also writes crime fiction ,but for me it is his more literary options that always grab me .So when the chance to read this his latest collection of short stories I couldn’t turn it down .It was a perfect fit for both Lizzie and Caroline’s German Lit month ,but also the first Bernhard Schlink reading week which Judith over at Readers in the wilderness is hosting this week .This also follows the news last week that his most famous Novel The reader is one of the world book night choices for 2013 ,I ve already put it down as my first choice to give away .

He had arrived thirteen days before .The season was over ,and with it the good weather .It was raining ,and he spent the afternoon with a book on the covered porch of his bed and breakfast .When he made himself go out into the bad weather the next day to walk along the beach in the rain to the light house ,he first encountered the woman on the way there ,and then on the way back .

Richard and Susan meet on the story after the season .

Well to summer lies .Now my first question is do you ever give a book a theme song ?Well I’ve had a song for this book with the lyric along the lines of  summer days . but for the life of me I can’t place the song .But yes as I read sometimes a song helps me along .So back to the book summer lies is a collection of almost and what might have been .A very clever  collection of stories of what it is to be middle-aged  man and face those points we all have too at some point .We meet a couple  Richard and Susan in the first story He is a man who is set in his way the meets the lovely Heiress Susan on holiday and then wonders how he will fit this women in his everyday life .Elsewhere we see a professor looking into the abyss  as he has cancer .A middle-aged man takes his elderly father to a music festival .We see this as a way for the father and son to connect .A chance meeting on a plane will lead two lives off on different paths .

“I expect you’re pleased that the government …”

It sounded as if father wanted to launch into one of their customary political arguments .He didn’t let him finish .”I haven’t read the paper for days .Not til next week.Shall we take a walk on the beach ? His father insisted on reading the rest of the paper.But stopped trying to draw him into an argument .Finally he folded the paper and laid it on the table “Shall we ?”

The father and son at the Bach music festival looking to connect

This is collection I recall connect with ,something about men at a certain point in there lives .turning points in the path of life .I was reminded of the lines in the film history boys about turning points in history .These stories on the whole are about turning points can A man have a women in his life or not ,what will that decision make in his future (this your are not told but you do wonder ). The son and father will these new sense of closeness last or is it a fleeting moment to be remembered in the future .Schlink does a wonderful job of just revealing enough about each character and there lives to make the story work but just that these are lean stories ,he also has a great eye for the world around him . .These stories cover the world but the fact that the men in the stories seem to be all of a similar age you get a feel of connection via that .It was adapted for radio here recently ,but I thought this is the sort of collection that would make a great film along the lines of Magnolia or short cuts where each story can be jumped in and out off  could be strung into an earlier one .

Have you read Schlink ?

Do you theme songs to books ?

Correction by Thomas Bernhard

Correction by Thomas Bernhard 

Austrian fiction 

Translator Sophie Wilkins 

Source own copy 

Where start this is the third Bernhard I’ve read other the years he is always a writer that draws me into his complex world .born in Holland,but then  he moved to live with family in Austria and went to various schools in Salzburg his grandfather wanted him to have an artistic education .He then start an apprenticeship in a shop in the late 1940’s be then fell ill with a lung condition and thus began writing in the 1950’s often viewed as an outsider and a trouble cause in his native Austria due to his frequent criticism’s of the Austrian art and lit world .But he was held in high regard around the world .Correction is one of his best known Novel .

This piece of prose had been a good example of Roithamer’s logical cast of mind  ,everything he later became,all he came to be ,was already prefigured in this short piece ,a description , in measured clearly articulated terms ,of a segment of nature familiar to us in the smallest detail .

 

The  novel follows a man Roithamer (this character seems to be loosely based on Ludwig Wittgenstein the Philosopher ,thou he didn’t commit suicide like Roithamer).Roithamer is dead his story is told by his friend as he sort his estate out .We hear a story of this man’s obsession building a cone-shaped building in the middle of the woods and then giving and making his sister live there .She ides and this then sets about a series of events that lead to the death of Roithamer .He was  also working on a manuscript for many years until his death that he Roithamer keeps editing or correcting  it as he was never fully happy with it .

And where I asked myself,did Holler get the idea for this house of his ,because I am fully aware that I got my idea ,to build the cone for my sister ,from holler and his house at Aurach gorge .

the idea for the cone .

Well its hard to describe Bernhard books and not get lost in them,  he is a writer that twists and turns likes snake his proses are slippy  and hard to grasp hold of ,thus making you as the reader take your time over them  .Due to the mention on the rear cover I read up on Wittgenstein via his wiki page and yes the bones of the story is very similar he had a sister he built her a house ,he studied at Cambridge like the main character .Then another strand in this books  is the constant correcting and building the cone almost like this is symbolic of a man wanting to make a mark on his world ,this in part feels maybe like Bernhard own struggle his wanting to make a mark on the world .You are drag into a world of a hopeless quest for the perfect ,I do wonder if this is a search that happens a lot in Austrian fiction having recently read the new Peirene sea of ink by Richard Weihe another story this based on a Chinese painter that was driven mad by the search for perfection in his case art in one stroke .As much as it is Bernhard story you can see echo’s in the story of Ralph Ellison the writer of invisible man who spent thirty years working and writing 200 pages of what was his second and final novel Juneteenth (he never finished it he died before it was ,so it was edited and published by his estate ) .As ever I leave his novels in awe he was maybe the best writer of the mid 20th century Bernhard isn’t easy but when you make the effort boy is he worth it  .Sorry for the quotes it hard to pull them as his sentences can go on for pages and the is no paragraphs just page after page of writing .I admired the search for the perfect text the perfect place to live the cone .I am someone who maybe settles for less than best in my own world but then I ‘m not so driven .

Have you read Bernhard if so what did you like ?

Do you search for perfection when  writing your posts ?

 

  

Maybe this time by Alois Hotschnig

Maybe this time Alois Hotschnig

Austrian fiction (short stories )

Translator – Tess Lewis

Source – review copy

Alois was born in Berg in Austria .He studied medicine ,then German and English language and literature at university of Innsbruck but didn’t get a degree ,since that he has been a freelancer writer working in many fields of writing he has also won 13 prizes for his works including the Austrian writers prize .

Now maybe this time has sat since last german lit month and it was unreviewed ,partly due to the fact I want to use it somewhere maybe in a short story project but never quite got round to it .I found I initially struggled to connect with this collection of stories but I am a believe in Meike and her choices for Peirene so rather than last year post a so so post I decide to reread the collection to see if after a second run through if I connected more to these stories than on my first reading so yesterday I reread it all as it is only 106 pages and actual written probably about seventy-five pages so only took an evening to reread .So on the second rereading I cracked what Hotschnig had in mind .

Whenever I left the house ,they lay in their jetty and when I came back ,hours later they were still lying there .In the sun ,in the shade in the wind and rain .Day in ,day out every day .

The opening lines of the first story the same silence the same noise.

From the opening story onwards the is a feeling of detachment in these stories an old women and her neighbours their ,are they real or spirits is she real why are they there these are all questions you are left with .Elsewhere a woman is seemingly being followed every day via a cafe to her house ,is this a stalker ,detective or just a spirit ? Some one awakes with blisters on their hands and a story in there mind but is it their story or not .These are just some of the tales you encounter in this collection .

I pulled myself together ,convinced the darkness was deceiving me .But my hands throbbed with pain, and with the pain they became mine once more .I tore open the curtains and examined my hands in the daylight .They were covered with blisters .

From the story the beginning of something just what is happening ?

 

The beauty of these short stories is what is happening in them  is left to you as the reader to figure out most of the time .As  these are bare bones of stories few names descriptions just happenings and  actions  most often viewed from the main characters in the stories usually .On the back of the book  he is compared to Kafka and Bernhard I don’t see Bern hard although maybe in longer fiction he may be more like the great Austrian master ,I as a reader always assume Bernhard as deep almost self-indulgent prose that make the reader really dive in , this isn’t Hotschnig now part of Kafka I get the feeling of not knowing where you are is a common theme .But for me it brought to mind a couple of things the first is the scenes in the two Wim Wenders films wings of desire and faraway so close were we meet the angels Daniel and Cassiel as they glimpse people life’s as they are sad ,old ,have secrets or stories to tell and we see it through the eyes of the angels .Another collection I was reminded of was Roald Dahls Tales of the unexpected not so much in story lines but more in the fact both collections keep you thinking as the unexpected happens and you wonder where the stories are going .

How is your favourite Austrian writer ?

Do you like stories that make you the reader think ?

Dying by Arthur Schnitzler

Dying by Arthur Schnitzler

Austrian fiction

Translated by Anthea Bell

source – library book

When I happened on this at the library the other week I just had to pick it up for German lit month as the book dream story by him I read for last years German lit month was on of my favourite books last year .He start of as a doctor was friends with Freud then became a writer.He was known for tackling taboo subjects and one would imagine at the time this book was written it maybe was slightly taboo  ,he wrote numerous plays ,novels and short stories this dying is one of his earliest books .he was also part of a group that meet in cafes in Vienna that were called the Viennese modernist .

Then with his head still against her breast so that his words came to her with a heavy ,hollow sound ,he said ,”Marie,Marie ,I didn’t want to tell you ,one more year and then it will be over ” now he was weeping violently and loudly

Felix telling Marie what he has near start of the book

Now dying is the story of a couple Felix and Marie it starts with them enjoying life as a romantic couple but then we start see that Felix isn’t well in fact he is dying .Now Marie is so in love with her man she vows to him that when he dies she will die at the same time  her self  out of love for him(but also as it turns out maybe duty ) .As the novel progress we see Felix getting weaker but also Marie that at the start of the story comes across as maybe a little weak and maybe under Felix’s spell become a stronger more independent women .

She had partly recovered her composure .She threw her hat down on the chair behind her ,sat down on the sofa too and said coaxingly ” darling I only went out for an hour in the open air .I was afraid I might fall ill myself and then what use would I be to you ? And I took a cab so as to get back quickly ”

Marie becomes much bolder through out the book

The heart of this story is what would you do for love how much is your life work fundamental questions that everybody ask themselves from time to time in their own lives , also power in relationships who has the upper hand  Felix over Marie in a way a the start she loves him deeply but then when she makes the promise to die she then sees her life for what it truly is and over the last year of Felix life see her change  .Another book from this time with a strong female at the centre of the story .I could see this making a great two hander play or film with two great actors at the lead it would make for wonderful drama .I enjoyed  this another small gem from Pushkin they manage to find so many wonderful novellas from round Europe.

Have you read this book ?

Do you have a favourite Austrian writer ?

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