It’s All Kitsch

Thomas Bernhard’s excellent novel, Old Masters, is a streaming narrative that often goes several levels (narratives) deep. Bernhard, despite ignoring breaks for chapters or paragraphs or dialogue does provide attribution in the midst of the narrative: the pattern is often like “I’m telling you that He said that She said that her Mother told her that her Father said, etc. Maybe not that complex since there are few main characters in the novel: the music critic (musicologist) that visits the art gallery every other day and sits before a famous painting to do his best thinking,  a museum guard who watches over the critic more than the museum itself, and a young author (philosopher) who is also the apparent narrator.

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How To Read

“The punishment matches the guilt: to be deprived of all appetite for life, to be brought to the highest degree of weariness of life” — Kierkegaard

Thomas Bernhard is one of the truly great writers of the last century. In his novel, Alte Meister (Old Masters), one of his central characters is an musicologist who comes to the art museum every other day, sits in the same place, and contemplates the same painting for three hours. Here are this character’s (Reger) comments on reading. Don’t think my HTML crashed: Berhard is one of those writers who feel extra white-space, including paragraph breaks, does not contribute significantly to the import of the text … so he leaves them out).

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