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Woodcutters (Vintage International) Paperback – August 10, 2010

4.2 out of 5 stars 18 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

The narrator of this story, which is told in a demanding, nonstop stream of consciousness, is a writer who finds himself roped into a dinner party thrown by people he has avoided for 20 years. Spurning conversation, he reviews his grievances against his hosts and their pretentious guests in what PW termed "a satirical jeremiad."
Copyright 1989 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

From Library Journal

In the last decade, Bernhard (born in 1931) has become one of the most acclaimed writers and playwrights of his generation. Originally published in Austria in 1984, this novel is a biting satire of a contemporary Viennese "artistic dinner" held in honor of a famous actor from the Burgtheater. The evening unfolds before us through the monologic and monomaniacal mediation of one of the guests, the middle-aged writer-narrator. In typical Bernhardian fashion the narrator is moved by hatred and affection for a society that he believes destroys the very artistic genius it purports to glorify. A superb translation; highly recommended for literature collections. Ulrike S. Rettig, Wellesley Coll., Mass.
Copyright 1988 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.

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Product Details

  • Series: Vintage International
  • Paperback: 192 pages
  • Publisher: Vintage; 1 edition (August 10, 2010)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400077591
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400077595
  • Product Dimensions: 5.4 x 0.4 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 4 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (18 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #664,556 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Woodcutters is definitely my favourite novel by Thomas Bernhard. It is Thomas Bernhard at his best. He got sued by former friends of his when he published the book so as in many of his books the narrator is very close to or maybe even identical with Thomas Bernhard himself.
Basically, the book consists of two parts. In the first part, the narrator sits in a chair and watches his hosts plus their other guests waiting for an actor to have dinner. The narrator had bumped into his hosts whom he hadn't seen for many years and they had invited him to join their dinner. A mutual friend of them had just committed suicide so he had felt obliged to join them - much to his regret. The second part describes the actual dinner. However, most of the book consists of what the narrator is thinking about his former friends, about friendships in general and about relationships between people. This nearly endless rant evolves around every possible aspect and like a surgeon Bernhard cuts deep into what everybody takes for granted and lays open treachery, lies, and hypocrisy (If you believe in family values and in a good world, this book might disturb you quite a bit!). As I mentioned before, old friends of Bernhard's sued him when the book was published because it was too obvious he was actually referring to them - and he was showing them in a way nobody would possibly want to be shown. This is not to say that Bernhard is necessarily a misanthrop. Quite surprisingly, when the narrator leaves the dinner table abruptly, he runs back home "through Vienna the city I loved like no other city" - quite a surprise after his Vienna-bashing. To me, Thomas Bernhard always was a deeply disturbed person who hated the world because it wasn't as nice as he wanted to believe it was.
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Format: Paperback
Thomas Bernhard is a writer of semi-autobiographical fiction and satire who possesses an acerbic wit. Born out of wedlock in Holland in 1931, he was raised for several years in Vienna by his maternal grandfather, himself a writer. His grandfather introduced him to the many literati of his generation and also to Schopenhauer, who remained a strong influence on Bernhard's life and writing. Bernhard considered Vienna his home though he maintained a love/hate relationship with it. The Boston Review cites that "In his final will and testament, Thomas Bernhard - Austria's most infamous novelist and playwright for the past half-century, and the most outspoken critic the state has endured since Karl Kraus - performed an unlikely post-mortem disappearing act. With characteristic bravado, he banned any further production and publication of his works within his home country for the duration of their copyright." Bernhard suffered from chronic tuberculosis to which he succumbed in 1989 at the age of 58. He speaks at great length about his illness in his novel, Wittgenstein's Nephew: A Novel (Vintage International).

Woodcutters, originally written as part of a trilogy, is Bernhard's diatribe about his disgust, revulsion, loathing, hatred and vilification of the hypocrites and losers that make up the art circle in Vienna from the 1950's through the 1980's. In his unique style, with not one paragraph in nearly 200 pages, this novel is told primarily in stream of consciousness from the viewpoint of a writer, one not unlike Bernhard himself.
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Format: Paperback
I first read about Thomas Bernhard in a tribute to and general review of his works in believe it or not Details magazine, back in the days when it was slightly more intellectual, and less hairspray and BS. I was very intrigued by what the reviewer said about his writing style, which used little punctuation and basically no paragraph indentations. I was also turned on by the fact that he was originally trained as a musician (as I am), and apparently constructed his writing in a parallel fashion to the structures of music. The review below is excellent, but it refers to Bernhard's novel Gargoyles (and maybe should have one of those italicized Amazon messages saying this refers to a different book by the author), which in my opinion was a little harder to get into, but is still a fascinating book, as the reviewer relates very well. The plot of Woodcutters revolves around a musician who has experienced the suicide of a very close friend. The entire book takes place from the corner of a room where the musician sits at a party, and we are allowed into his mind as he relates the unfolding of what turns out to be a fairly disastrous evening among people he has learned to despise over the time since the death of his friend. The people at the party are all artists and musicians as well, and for those of you who have spent some time in the arts community you will relate to some of the observations the narrator makes about these folks (you will enjoy it even if you aren't an artist, though). The book is dark, cynical, and funny. I can't imagine there would be anyone who couldn't relate to a few things in this novel in this day and age. Highly recommended.
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