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The Loser: A Novel Paperback – October 17, 2006
Four girls on a trip to Paris suddenly find themselves in a high-stakes game of Truth or Dare that spirals out of control. Learn More
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Bernhard fans will recognize the restrained rant, the execution of an idea carried to a logical, caustic extreme. The rant creates, of the novel, a grand philosophical speculation: What is devotion to one's art? What is it to truly understand one's art and to not misuse one's gift? And, alas, The Loser can also be read as the profound consequence of perfectionism, whereby all efforts to create or execute anything of note are squashed in the critical mind's ruthless self-scrutiny. The narrator works, for example, on his Glenn Gould essay for nine years, grateful, in the end, that he has published nothing. "How good it is that none of these imperfect, incomplete works has ever appeared, I thought, had I published them.... [T]oday I would be the unhappiest person imaginable, confronted daily with disastrous works crying out with errors, imprecision, carelessness, amateurishness." The one regenerative act seems to be that of self-destruction. Destruction, indeed, becomes the flip side of perfectionist rigor. Thomas Bernhard (1931-89) was his own unique genius and in The Loser, one of his most acclaimed novels, he creates a chilling portrait of tragic compulsion, teasing and testing our assumptions human behavior. --Hollis Giamatteo --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
From Publishers Weekly
Copyright 1993 Reed Business Information, Inc. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
Top Customer Reviews
If "Gargoyles" were a boxing match instead of a book and Bernhard a fighter you could say he came out swinging hard at the opening bell and faded away in the middle rounds...only to come back stronger than ever to knock you out cold in the end. The minimal plot describes a son who, having returned from university for the weekend, accompanies his physician father on his daily rounds through the countryside. The day starts offs with a brutal murder at a local inn and ends with a visit to a mad prince holed up in his mountain estate. In between, father and son check in on a variety of patients--each one of them a "gargoyle," a human grotesque, suffering from one or another of the awful maladies of existence. Hemmed in by illness, grief, loneliness, age, hopelessness, these poor souls are a parade of human misery, the victims of the horrors that flesh is heir to.
The son is the ostensible narrator of these events, but Bernhard has him take a primarily background role, letting the patients and their grim circumstances speak for themselves. This technique culminates in the final one hundred or so pages of *Gargoyles* which are mainly the text of an extended monologue by the novel's most intriguing character: the prince of a large and decaying estate who is clearly on the verge of the sort of insanity that may be the clearest wisdom of all.Read more ›
Bernhard, like Beckett, was a playwright, and it shows in the intricate, serpentine "speech" the narrator delivers in *The Loser*--in fact, it might even be more rewarding if one were to read the text out loud to better "hear" the full intent of Bernhard's lush and cadenced "madman's" prose. For the novel is indeed a soliloquy: contradictory, ironic, by turns concealing and revealing, a confession that confesses the very impossibility of telling the absolute truth.
*The Loser* is ultimately a novel for those who find language more intriguing than story, the mind's interior struggle for meaning more dramatic than physical incident. As such, it's a work of the first order. I cant recommend it highly enough.
The Loser is a snapshot of such a man who is, ironically, destroyed by his own genius and perfectionism in the face of another genius. Unlike his competition, The Loser (who lacks self direction and confidence), and Glenn Gould (who is brilliant but only capable of achieving, not of seeing his faults), the narrator is capable of seeing his flaws and misfortunes alongside his ability, a deadly combination which leads to his demise and despair. He seems to recognize, but not actually admit to himself, that he gave up his one chance at happiness, but by being so concerned with his past blunders he neglects his fortunes, most notably that he is the only one of the three central characters in the book who is still alive.
I admit that this is the only book by Bernhard I have read (though I now plan to read more), and I only read it because, ironically, I had become obsessed with Glenn Gould during a research project. Needless to say, I was taken by surprise. This isn't a book about Glenn Gould, it's about genius and its effects on the psyche of the men who existed alongside it; the ones you never hear about because they didn't achieve what they had in mind. But it's not just about failure, it's about the even more frightening realization that one did not succeed not because he has yet to, but because he cannot.
Most Recent Customer Reviews
One has to read one Thomas Bernhard, after that apparently they are all the same. I'm glad I chose the one that had Glenn Gould as a major protagonist, and it made it easy to... Read morePublished 8 days ago by Penelope Glass
Ehhh.. philosophically this book is a bit dated. Idk, i just thought this book was OKAY.Published 27 days ago by James Crue
... lots of pages with to little story. Lack of depth. You may lose interest early on and find it hard to finish.Published 6 months ago by Begona Aristy
My first Thomas Bernhard read. I was half-way through the book before I began to fully appreciate the struggles of the three central characters of in story. Read morePublished 6 months ago by Robert J Edwards
Bernhard doesn't really seem to write "novels" as much as he makes voices. Bitter, misanthropic, death-obsessed, repetitious, cynical voices. Read morePublished 15 months ago by jafrank
Thomas writes in an almost hysterically misanthropic style. Though he writes German sentences to the extreme - sentences can be a paragraph long, if you can find a paragraph - even... Read morePublished 16 months ago by D. J. Leedham
first up in John Murry's ( the graceless age )summer bookclub . Its beautiful , I especially loved the bit where he describes the Artist as a cripple and beautiful both at the same... Read morePublished on June 9, 2014 by Trey Blake
Never has misanthropic bile been as entertaining. Brilliant insight into the artist's mind. Envy and obsession and the Goldberg Variations.Published on May 31, 2014 by Hurt