The Voice Imitator by Thomas Bernhard

The Voice Imator by Thomas Bernhard

Austrian fiction

Original title – Der Stimmenimitator

Translator – Kennerth J Northcott

Source – personal copy

I am a little late start this week Bernhard week sorry anyway it is the second time I have done a week dedicated to the Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard. I am a fan of his work he has a style I like his characters always seem to be at odds with the society they are in and he has a very caustic way of looking at the world around him till now all the books I have reviewed on the blog have been novels or novellas nine of his books I have reviewed I also have a piece from the last Bernhard week by the writer Andrej Nikolaidis he wrote for this blog about his love of the writer and his importance to his journey as a writer. So welcome to the third Bernhard week well let’s say fortnight this week and next week. Have you a favourite book by him? I now get on to his collection of microfiction

A man from Ausburg was comitted to the Ausburg lunatic assylum merely because, throughout his life he had claimed at every possible opportunity that Goethe’s last words were mehr nicht ( no more) tather than mehr licht (more light) , something that in the long run and as time went on, is said to have frayed the nerves of those with whom he came in contact that hey banded together to get this ausburger , so unhappily obsessed with his claimm comitted to a lunatic assylum. It is reported that six doctors refused to commit him to a lunatic asylum but that the seventh immediately arranged to have him committed. This doctor was, as I learned from the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, decorated with the Goethe badge of the city of Frankfurt for his efforts.

The story the Claim about a man that refused to change his mind of Goethes last words!!

This is a collection of 104 stories or more snippets none is more than a single page most are just a few lines he has taken headlines tales he has heard and turned them into 104 stories there is a number of recurring themes in the stories such as Madness, bad luck, death and suicides these characters all have a little touch of what you expect from Bernhard he has touched on Madness in Wittigensteins Nephew which was set in an asylum which a number of these stories are one had a real tongue in cheek comic turn a man sent to asylum only after a number of doctors had refused to the last doctor said yes what was up with him as he refused to admit that his version of what were the last words of Goethe was no more (Mehr Nicht) as opposed to the given which is more light (Mere Licht). Then an orchestra plays and the audience claps encore after encore only to be told they had played to the Deaf school. The death of a woodcutter reminds me of the title of one of his other books. A man that was Tito’s double these tales he took from all over the place and range from comic to sad to profound to surreal.

A so- called Chamber Music asscociation famous for playing only ancient music on original tnstruments and for having only Rossini, frescobaldi, Vivaldi, and Pergolesi in its repertoire was playing in an old castle in the Atterseeand had its greatest success since it was founded. The applause continued intil the Chamber Music Association did not have a single encore left on its program to play. It was not until the next day that the Musicians were told that they had been playing in an institute for death mutes.

The story The most successful concert an orcestra plays a number of encores and then are told the truth.


I had wanted to try a few of the other things he had written so choose this for this year I will next year be doing either the poetry collections of his plays. This collection reminds me style-wise of things Kluge does in his writing where he uses snippets of this and that to build a whole and this is what happens here as the stories unfold themes grow like the books by Luis Sagasti his two books have underlying themes and his style of storytelling is very short like these. a writer that jumps to my mind a couple of times in some of the stories was Saki yes Saki there is a similar feel Saki had a great way of being quick caustic and comic at the same time something Bernhard pulls of so well here. It shows he must have worried about his own sanity at times it crops up a lot in these stories as people end up in what would be on a ward like the ward I work on but not for LD patients. As over the years I have read so many books by him you can see in his work he walks that fine line of depression and stress it is almost as thou for Bernhard his writing was an outlet he had very bad health for most of his life. I enjoyed these collections as it was more accessible than his novels and has a little bit of what is in all his books. Have you read this or any other of his plays or poetry?

Winstons score – A – as much as I loved this in some way it is dated in the terms used and also some of the stories are close to the bone these days but they were written in a different era and most of them are great still.



Stu’s first post covoid library trip and lets do Bernhard week 22 next month

SO much for a break a couple of hours and it is like an itch to blog these days I am not in the mood to review as I just write muy reviews then and there it is hard to think sometimes with a fuzzy head as I have just done a set of night shifts for my job is stressful at times as although we have few patients the patients we have are in real need of help care and our patience which is very draining but compared to people on covoid wards etc it is a lot less drain and hard. Anyway enough of me moaning anyway I had intended to do this post when I got the books last week from the Library. As many of you fans of this blog may know I used to use my Library a lot as Chesterfield is one of the Libraries with the Highest loan rates in the Country it is often in the top 20 busiest in the Country. But I haven’t been one of those inj the last twelve months I am a lover of shelf browsing looking for books I may have missed or just not been able to afford to buy. So the main time I order books in is Booker international Long list time which is growing close again for another year. Anyway, I had tried ordering a book and found I couldn’t I first thought I had an unpaid fine but didn’t just need to tell them I am still living where I am which I am. SO I had a look around and found some real gems  even thou I had one book on my shelves lol anyone done that themselves?

Anyway, after a quick look I didn’t even go through all the fiction books I had six books which seemed enough to me I may not get to them all but I hope to try and read a few I have already read one of the books here. SO let’s see the others I got to read.

Born to Run by Bruce Springsteen, Yes I am a fan of his and I have this last year or so been buying a number of music Biographies and related books Bruce is a singer I have always loved from being in my early teens. I read a couple of music biographies a year but never mention them but I may start to mention them more as I have a lot to read I’ve brought but mainly around music I grew up with Factory records and The Fall but this is from Bruce caught my eye. Have you read this book ? do you have a favourite music related book ?

I jump from the biggest of the books to the smallest of the books and the one I have reviewed. People from the Neighbourhood by Kawakami you can go back and read my review of this collection of Microfiction. already a favourite of this year.

Oh, a blurred pic but this is The Moustache by Emmanuel Carrere A man shave his moustache after asking his wife she said she wouldn’t recognize him but then seems to blank it when he shaves it I loved the other book I read by him and had one on my shelves he is called by Knausgaard the most exciting living writer high praise indeed.

After Midnight by Irmgard Keun I said when I read Child of all nation last year I would be returning to her soon rather than later and I have borrowed this book set in Frankfurt it sees the characters over a short time but their lives are mapped out ion that time.I can’t wait for this one. As this is a writer I want to read more of have you read this book ?

Another writer I have read before Serve the people by Yan Lianke this is an earlier book that has just been reissued set at the Height of Mo’s power in 1967it is a tale of forbidden love between the bored wife of the commander and one of the young soldiers. an age-old tale set against the backdrop of the Mo years should be interesting. I was drawn in by the cover of this one.

Last but not least is one I thought I had reviewed but when I checked in the library the day I visit I  hadn’t reviewed it on the blog but then when I got home and looked at my shelves I had brought it when these Faber reissues came out I often do this I have so many books these days not being one to keep track I missed I had this one which was one of four reissued the other two I had reviewed and the other one I brought concrete I have reviewed since anyway I have this and frost to review on my shelves oh and the voice Imitator maybe to do another Thomas Bernhard week I did it in July but this time as he was born and died in the middle of February I know it is short notice but let’s do a Thomas Bernhard week again !! from Feb 14-21 2022

So not wanting to do a review forgive me as I did this instead of a break as I love this type of post and hadn’t done one for a long while. Have you been to your library recently?



June 2023


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