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The Lime Works (Phoenix Fiction) Paperback – June 15, 1986
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“A superior book . . . deeply thought and felt. . . . Bernhard is a writer of great originality and fascination.”
—The New York Review of Books
“Bernhard’s prose is hypnotic, unstoppable, as rapid as thought itself. He makes you think, as all great writers do, that at any moment he can say anything.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“A masterfully dense set of esthetic, social and political metaphors about contemporary life, about art, about obsessive commitment to anything. . . . The book is a jungle of meaning, the opposite of simplistic allegory, and a major achievement.”
—The New Republic
“A novel that forces you to think, that compels you to measure your life and rituals against those of its strange, though frequently all-too-human, protagonist.”
—National Review --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Text: English, German (translation)
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One characteristics of Anglo-American literature, today, is that it is "well-written", to the point of being "boring". This book is not "well written": the sentences are too long, there are a lot of repetitions and whatever there is of a story is progressing at a snails pace... But this is what makes the unique beauty of Bernhard's style.
What I found most interesting in the story is that, in the last quarter of the novel, we start to understand that Roithammer, in spite of his pretense at intellectual clarify and purity, is maybe (probably?) completely crazy. His cone, based on a supposedly detailed study of the character of his sister, is a massive failure, and this scientist has become so obsessive that he is unable to concentrate more than a few minutes and to do any real work. The narrator himself is not much better, as we see at the end of the first part.
The way all this is slowly revealed is intimately linked to Bernhard's extraordinary style: this is what make the literary value of his novel.
In the awake state the person often does not recognise his creative abilities. If a dream of the time acts, this draws the attention of the dreaming also to the other talents from which he still anticipates nothing. If he looks at painting in his dream, this shows that he devotes himself ideas and images which were not aware to him up to now. If the dreaming lacquers something in his dream, this refers to recognizable changes in his thinking and feeling.
To times can register in the positive sense as one develops in the next time and forms the life. If this does not apply, it can point to deceptions and palliation or the inclination to excessive optimism or pessimism, - besides, one must above all still consider the symbolic salary of the colours which are used to the time and that what one paints or what is painted. Because to times deals a lot with self-printout, it can play an important role as the dreaming paints in his dream. If he deals, for example, with miniatures, he must concentrate upon the details. If he devotes himself to big pictures, he must possibly develop a more global perspective.
If you like this book by Bernhard, you might also be interested in "Jacob von Gunten" by Robert Walser.
Jakob von Gunten (New York Review Books)