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 ?



11 Comments (+add yours?)

  1. Violet
    Nov 08, 2012 @ 05:53:21

    This does sound like a complex novel. I have never heard of Bernhard, but I may have to look into him. I have a bio called The House of Wittgenstein written by Evelyn Waugh’s grandson Alexander, which I haven’t read yet. They were quite an “interesting” family, it seems. Funny how you were saying the other day that Waugh is one of your favourite writers, and now you’ve just read this book loosely based on Wittgenstein and liked it lot, and Waugh’s grandson obviously has an interest in Wittgenstein. Circles within circles…


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  3. Tony
    Nov 08, 2012 @ 06:58:24

    I’ve enjoyed all the Austrian writers I’ve enjoyed, so I’m sure I’ll get around to this one sooner or later too (along with Musil). Definitely a country with a great group of classic writers 🙂


  4. afictionhabit
    Nov 08, 2012 @ 09:15:25

    I’ve not heard of this writer and it seems interesting. Thanks for making me aware of another Austrian writer! Sarah


  5. Caroline
    Nov 08, 2012 @ 12:17:33

    This does sound interesting. I have another of his books but I have still not read it.
    I like the idea that it’s based on or rather inspired by Wittgenstein’s biography.


  6. Lisa Hill
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 07:08:00

    I haven’t read this one Stu, but I certainly will now. It’s on the list of 1001 Books You Must Read etc (There are 5 altogther by this author) so it’s good to have a recommendation for which one to start with).


  7. Anbolyn Potter (@anbolynp)
    Nov 09, 2012 @ 20:45:07

    How interesting that the attainment of perfection seems to be a theme in Austrian fiction.
    I don’t struggle for perfection in my posts – I just aim to talk about the books I love and connect with other readers!


    Nov 10, 2012 @ 08:26:59

    Great review Stu – although I am slightly wary of Bernhard having read only one book and not enjoyed it at all. Perhaps its time for me to try again


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  10. Max Cairnduff
    Jan 14, 2013 @ 17:49:28

    I have one at home but haven’t read him yet. I’m looking forward to doing so though. He always sounds very much my sort of thing, given my taste for modernist and experimental fiction.

    In answer to your question, I strive for perfection with every post I write, and eventually press publish when I despair of writing even a single sentence that I’m happy with. That’s actually true pretty much, and sounds grim, but in practice it’s not as I do remember that blogging is something I do for pleasure and only so much can realistically be expected when it’s something I have to do in the margins of other activities (which was among Peter Stothard’s points I think, though I could be misremembering).


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November 2012


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