Fiercely observed, often hilarious, and "reminiscent of Ibsen and Strindberg" ("The New York Times Book Review"), this exquisitely controversial novel was initially banned in its author's homeland.
A searing portrayal of Vienna's bourgeoisie, it begins with the arrival of an unnamed writer at an 'artistic dinner' hosted by a composer and his society wife--a couple he once admired and has come to loathe. The guest of honor, a distinguished actor from the Burgtheater, is late. As the other guests wait impatiently, they are seen through the critical eye of the writer, who narrates a silent but frenzied tirade against these former friends, most of whom have been brought together by Joana, a woman they buried earlier that day. Reflections on Joana's life and suicide are mixed with these denunciations until the famous actor arrives, bringing an explosive end to the evening that even the writer could not have seen coming.
About the Author
Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989) 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and insisted at his death that none of his works be published in Austria for seventy years, a provision later repealed by his half-brother.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.
“Superbly distinctive and provocative. . . . An unusually intense, engrossing literary experience.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Musical, dramatic and set in Vienna, Woodcutters resembles a Strauss operetta with a libretto by Beckett. . . . Bernhard is easily the most original and important writer in German since Gunter Grass.”
“Bernhard’s narrators are prodigious haters, and yet we love them; they are too brilliant for it to be otherwise.”
“No other book by Bernhard could possibly constitute a better introduction to his work as a whole. Apart from perfectly illustrating his shrewdness, disgruntlement and acute awareness, Woodcutters is very funny.”
—The Washington Post