Read Betoni by Thomas Bernhard Free Online
Book Title: Betoni|
The author of the book: Thomas Bernhard
Format files: PDF
The size of the: 28.49 MB
Edition: Lurra Editions
Date of issue: 2008
ISBN: No data
ISBN 13: No data
Read full description of the books Betoni:For years I have lived in this state of self-condemnation, self-abnegation and self-mockery, in which ultimately I always have to take refuge in order to save myself.
I find it a bit ironic that I’ve been having such a difficult time beginning this review, a review for a book narrated by an aging man who has watched ten years flick by as he has attempted to write the first sentence for his own book. Thomas Bernhard’s Concrete is a darkly comical, spiraling plunge into the mind and soul of it’s narrator as he gripes and groans about his lot in life. He manages to create blockades for himself everywhere he turns, always perceiving the world around him as threat to him and as stifling his creative genius. In a sublime balance between grumpy and gorgeous, Bernhard exquisitely details a tortured mind as it projects it’s own self-dissatisfactions outward, latching on to every corner of society possible to avert any horrific inward gaze, while constructing a portrait of confined genius and giving voice to the dismay felt by those who hold the arts in high esteem. I’d always cared extremely little for public opinion because I was obsessed with my own opinion and hence had no time at all for the public’s.
Berhard brings such a richness of voice and character that nearly screams off the page in all the narrator’s self-righteous fury. Rudolph is aging and bitter at everything and everyone around him, viewing anything aside from the purest of intellectual pursuits to be vapid trifles. These trifles, he fears, are the objects that the general public finds the most interest in, and he rages against a society that is progressively becoming oversaturated with philistines masquerading under a guise of artistic merit. The scene today is dominated by baseness and stupidity, and by the charlatanry which makes common cause with them. My Vienna has been totally ruined by tasteless, money-grubbing politicians and become unrecognizable. While he often seems like a mind that is being shorn from it’s hinge, it would be wrong to dismiss him as an utter madman (as he suspects all his acquaintances have); Bernhard manages to give birth to an eloquent voice that resides in the ambiguous region where madness and genius overlap, bestowing Rudolph with a cunning insight and a silver tongue of vast literary magnitude. I’ve always been fond of insufferable narrators, the type of people that I accept would probably be unbearable as a friend or to encounter in person, but I can’t help but loving their bitter, volatile personalities on paper. Perhaps that is one of the many gifts of literature; through books like this we come to understand the character and why they present a thorn of a personality and in turn learn tolerance and acceptance of others. Rudolph seemed reminiscent of many of my other favorite insufferable narrators, especially the one found in Hamsun’s Hunger.
Rudolph’s vitriolic rants help him avoid writing the music study he has been intending to write for ten years. These rants are not only mere digressions, but often digressions of digressions to the point where it seems there is little to no forward motion to the novel. However, it is through these circuitous ravings that Bernhard is able to reveal the insight into his narrator piece by piece while still bestowing an infectious desire to press on in the reader. This book is extremely hard to put down. Rudolph gripes about everything around him, from his sister, his house, publishing, society, and spitting acidic condemnations of his current residence in Peiskam as well as his former residence in Vienna. Only a few people have the strength to turn their backs on Vienna soon enough, before it is too late; they remain stuck to this dangerous and poisonous city until, finally, they become tired and let themselves by crushed to death by it, as by a glistening snake. And how many geniuses have been crushed to death in this city? They simply can’t be counted. Rudolph finds faults everywhere he casts his gaze, and finds them unbearable and suffocating. Each annoyance in the world builds to stifle his self-professed creative genius, a genius his is unable to reveal to the world due to, what he believes to be, strangling stupidity and sheer blindness towards what is truly brilliant. ‘I can’t expect simple people to take me seriously anymore,’ he writes, detailing his excuses for his self-removal from society. However, no matter how hard he tries to remove himself from anything distressing, he is always able to find a new matter that is such a heavy burden to him that he cannot begin writing. Also, much like Dostoevsky’s narrator from Notes From Underground, he believes he is deathly ill. The world around him is so dissatisfactory and vile that it has planted a terminal illness in him, one that can be used at any moment to forego any progression in his work or life. ‘I don’t know which came first—my illness or my sudden distaste for society.’
Rudolph must inevitable come to terms that it is his jealousy that leads to his spiteful nature, jealousy of his sister’s prosperity, jealousy that society can thrive without him, and jealousy that others can fake their happiness through the world. Not long after he rages against Vienna, Rudolph writes ‘Today I envy my sister only one thing: that she can live in Vienna. That’s what constantly rouses me to anger against Vienna – envy.’ It is easy to hate something that we envy, something we cannot obtain, something that makes us feel inferior. We all do it. It is so easy to hate a popular musician when we feel we have our own musical talents, or to hate an author that becomes a best seller when we appreciate what we feel is better, more worthwhile literature. William H. Gass mentions in an interview how bitter he was towards the literary world at a young age, seeing what he considered mediocre writers making the best sellers while hearing the thump of his rejected manuscripts being returned to his front doorstep. Rudolph cannot begin his great work, so he finds excuses in everything else to sidestep any personal responsibilities. He projects his distaste towards himself onto the world at large, and while it is highly comic, it is truly tragic.
After leaving his home to vacation in peace and in hopes of beginning his book, Rudolph is flooded with memories of a poor woman who faced true hardships of life. It creates an illuminating juxtaposition: Rudolph who fears the outside world is crushing him instead of recognizing his own self-defeating perceptions and actions, and Anna who is trying to make an honest, self-motivating go of it in the world and is constantly thwarted on all sides by outside forces. Initially, Rudolph views her as a muse to make himself feel better, ‘The fact is that we immediately use someone who is still more unfortunate than we are in order to get ourselves back on our feet,’ her cruel fate sends him plummeting into throes of anxiety and fear that it is uncertain if he will ever be able to begin the book he has traveled so far to start work upon.
While Rudolph is a voice for all our inner discontent with what we find around us, he is a cautionary tale, or perhaps even a metaphorical yellow canary, that we must alter our self-defeating behaviors, claim responsibilities for our actions and shortcomings, and take charge of our lives if we ever wish to do anything great. We cannot waste our years and youth away wishing for ideal conditions, we must cut our own path through the dense foliage of reality to capture the treasure of our goals. We cannot blame others for our own failings, and the world would move much more smoothly if we could all accept who we are, learn to love ourselves even for our faults, and not project it outward into the cosmos. Bernhard displays a masterful skill over his prose and through his creation of such a cantankerous, yet charming, narrator. While this book spins itself in circle of self-defeat, it is one that will have you flipping pages, fully engrossed, entertained and desiring to know what venomous line Rudolph will spit next. This is the sort of book that really charms me, and reading it with such an enlightened and intelligent goodreads friend such as Garima (please read her incredible review found here) made this all the more of an incredible book. Bitter and beautiful, Bernhard is a master that should find his way into your bookshelf and heart.
‘There ought to be only happy people—all the necessary conditions are present—but there are only unhappy people.’
Read information about the authorThomas Bernhard was an Austrian author, who ranges among the most distinguished German speaking writers of the second half of the 20th century.
Although internationally he's most acclaimed because of his novels, he was also a prolific playwright. His characters were oftenly working in a lifetime and never-ending major work while they deal with themes such as suicide, madness and obsession and, as Bernhard did, they use to have a love-hate relation with Austria. His prose was tumultuous but sober at the same time, philosophic in the background, with a musical cadency and plenty of black humor.
He started publishing in the year 1963, with the title "Frost". His last published work, appeared in the year 1986, was "Extinction". Some of his most well known works include "The loser" (where he ficitionalizes about Glenn Gould), "Correction" and "Woodcutters".
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