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Complete Thomas Bernhard in English: A Checklist with Pictures

Thomas Bernhard is certainly one of the major, titanic writers of any era, any country. Enormously influential, unremittingly bleak and pessimistic but never without a sense of humor, his style evolved into single-paragraphed philosophical rants extending hundreds of pages, the best of which are Woodcutters, ‘Walking’ (from Three Novellas), and Gathering Evidence. I have finally accumulated what I believe are all the publications translated into English. His books have been translated and published by a variety of presses from the major (Knopf) to the tiny (Ariadne), across decades, with many of them out of print for long stretches, so I thought it would be helpful to those interested in Bernhard to see everything in one place.

Complete Bernhard in English

(Here’s a snippet from ‘Walking’ just to give you an idea of what Bernhard’s about, if you’re unfamiliar: ‘But that doesn’t alter the fact, says Oehler, that day in day out you have to stand by and see how more and more people are made with more and more inadequacy and with more and more misfortune, who have the same capacity for suffering and the same frightfulness and the same ugliness and the same detestableness as you yourself have, and who, as the years go by, have an even greater capacity for suffering and frightfulness and ugliness and detestableness.’ (122-3, Three Novellas)

Fiction

There are two books of short stories, Prose (1967) and The Voice Imitator (1987, 104 stories in 104 pages), and Three Novellas, then you get the novels: Frost (1963), Gargoyles (1967), The Lime Works (1971), Correction (1975), Yes (1978), The Cheap-Eaters (1981), Concrete and Wittgenstein’s Nephew (1982), The Loser (1983), Woodcutters (1984, also translated as Cutting Timber), Old Masters (1985), Extinction (1986), and On the Mountain (written 1959, published 1989).

Plays

Bernhard’s plays are to me just as great as his novels, because you get to see the manic narrator from his novels having to interact with others–usually in pages-long rants intercut by the briefest one-liners from other actors. The ones published in English are Histrionics (1984, collects three plays), Heldenplatz (1988), the incredible Over All the Mountain Tops and The World-Fixer (both 1981), and another volume published in 1982 which collects The President and Eve of Retirement (plus a different translation of one of the stories from Prose).

Finally we have the odds and ends: Bernhard’s autobiography, the excellent, excellent Gathering Evidence: A Memoir (1985), two books of poetry from 1958 collected in one volume as In Hora Mortis / Under the Iron of the Moon, and Gitta Honegger’s book on Bernhard, which mostly concentrates on his plays (I haven’t really sought out the critical works yet). (Also shown here is a little chapbook I found somewhere called Claus Peymann und Hermann Beil auf der Sulzwiese, which is a short (20 pp) play, a dialogue between Peymann (who directed many of Bernhard’s plays) and Beil (an actor). It’s apparently one of three one-acts that Bernhard wrote for Beil, but none of these have been translated into English, as far as I know.)

Odds and ends

There are two more Bernhards due to be published in the next six months, Victor Halfwit: A Winter’s Tale and My Prizes: An Accounting.

Which leads me to two questions: Have I missed anything? What’s yet to be translated into English?

UPDATE: Poster ‘Rise’ informs me that a play called ‘The Force of Habit’ has been published in the UK. Unfortunately the cheapest copy I can find is $73.60 + $9 shipping. Yikes.

Discussion

Comments are disallowed for this post.

  1. A play called The Force of Habit?

    Posted by Rise | August 24, 2010, 1:28 pm
  2. Two things you may have missed: the long poem Ave Vergil in Conjunctions 53 http://www.conjunctions.com/archive.htm

    and a translated story “The Joiner” in Penguin’s Parallel Text series “German Short Stories 2″ from 1976. This story appears under a different title and translation in Prose.

    You have different editions to me (I have the hardback of The Loser with a black cover and tiny picture of Glenn Gould) and I don’t bother with the plays but recommend Tom Cousineau’s Three-Part Inventions – because it’s the best book on Bernhard in English. I found Honegger interesting but unsatisfactory. Apparently Manfred Mittermayer is writing an official biography in German, so we can only hope a translator will be chained to his or her desk when the time comes.

    Posted by steve mitchelmore | August 24, 2010, 7:04 pm
  3. Oh, and that play Claus Peymann und Hermann Beil auf der Sulzwiese is in Conjunctions 31 translated by Honegger.

    Posted by steve mitchelmore | August 24, 2010, 7:12 pm
  4. Awesome post. Alas, I only have about 6 of these books on your list. As to other Bernhards out there, Vintage will be publishing a number more works in 2011. Not sure if they are reprints or translations of new books, though.

    Vintage is also reissuing a ton of his novels (4 this year, a few in the past years), making it a lot easier to collect Bernhard than it once was.

    Posted by Scott Esposito | August 24, 2010, 11:42 pm
  5. Just wanted to mention this nice pocket-sized translation of ‘The Voice Impersonator’:

    http://www.spdbooks.org/Producte/1884381073/the-voice-impersonator.aspx

    Posted by mike | August 25, 2010, 8:35 pm
  6. I have a copy of the small, 1995 edition of ‘The Voice Impersonator’ that Mike mentioned, and I recommend it to anyone who has an interest in collecting Bernhard. It is a great piece of publishing.

    Posted by WHH | August 26, 2010, 3:03 pm


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