The Loser: A Novel
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Thomas Bernhard was one of the most original writers of the twentieth century. His formal innovation ranks with Beckett and Kafka, his outrageously cantankerous voice recalls Dostoevsky, but his gift for lacerating, lyrical, provocative prose is incomparably his own.One of Bernhard's most acclaimed novels, The Loser centers on a fictional relationship between piano virtuoso Glenn Gould and two of his fellow students who feel compelled to renounce their musical ambitions in the face of Gould's incomparable genius. One commits suicide, while the other-- the obsessive, witty, and self-mocking narrator-- has retreated into obscurity. Written as a monologue in one remarkable unbroken paragraph, The Loser is a brilliant meditation on success, failure, genius, and fame.
day to the nine-year-old daughter of a schoolteacher in Neukirchen near Altmünster so as not to be tortured by it any longer. The teacher’s child ruined my Steinway in the shortest period imaginable, I wasn’t pained by this fact, on the contrary, I observed this cretinous destruction of my piano with perverse pleasure. Wertheimer, as he always said, had gone into the human sciences, I had begun my deterioration process. Without my music, which from one day to the next I could no longer tolerate,
procrastination maneuver, since you loathe Vienna. Thousands of his notes set end to end, I thought, and published under the title The Loser. Nonsense. I guessed that he’d destroyed all these notes in Traich and Vienna. Don’t leave any traces behind was of course one of his sayings. If a friend dies we nail him to his own sayings, his comments, kill him with his own weapons. On the one hand he lives on in what he said to us (and to others) all his life, on the other we kill him with it. We’re the
less in the background, although everyone else in their circle was always putting on airs. At the Mozarteum people didn’t notice Wertheimer’s wealth either. Nor did they notice Glenn’s wealth by the way, and Glenn was wealthy. Retrospectively it was clear that the wealthy had found each other, I thought, they had a sixth sense for their mutual background. Glenn’s genius was then so to speak just a welcome extra, I thought. Friendships, I thought, as experience shows, are finally only possible
the night in this room for the whole winter, everything was dirty, she said, if I didn’t mind she would get a rag and clean things up, at least the soot on the windowsill, she said, but I refused, I couldn’t care less about the dirt. She turned down the covers and claimed the sheets were clean, the air would dry them. Every guest always wants the same room, she said. Wertheimer never used to let anyone spend the night in Traich, all at once his house was teeming with people, the innkeeper said.
invitation not only impolitely but in an inadmissible tone of voice, brusquely, offended them, which I couldn’t accept now. We behave unjustly, offend people simply to avoid a more difficult moment, an unpleasant confrontation, I thought, for the confrontation with the Duttweilers after Wertheimer’s funeral would have certainly been everything but pleasant, I would have again mentioned things that were better left unmentioned, things concerning Wertheimer, and with all the injustice and