Don DeLillo

(Geb. 1936 in New York City) 

In the novels of Thomas Bernhard, the human mind in isolation is the final spiraling subject. Trained as a musician, he imagines in The Loser that Glenn Gould is a friend of his, a fellow student under Horowitz and a man so compulsively preoccupied with his art that this quality must inevitably destroy him. It has to be understood that Bernhard himself writes a prose so unrelenting in its intensity toward a fixed idea that it sometimes approaches a level of self-destructive delirium. He is frequently funny at this level. (...)

Bernhard’s fiction is anti-cinematic. There is almost nothing to see in his work. It is all personal history and tossing emotion, all voice – no faces, rooms, rainy days. There are references to streets and cities but no sense of place, and the novels I’ve read have no paragraphing, no divisions of text or accommodating space breaks. Bernhard’s prose has a rapid and clamorous pulse rate. The narrator delivers eloquent chronicles of misery, illness, madness, isolation, and death. There are points at which the narration amasses such compressed layerings of loathing and self-loathing that it becomes rackingly comic. And weaving bleakly through it all is a sense of themes and patterns that ride recurringly in the mind. (...)

Where was his madness? In his atlas of contempt, madness was a function of geography. To be Austrian was to carry an unsparing historical memory, a narrative of fascism and anti-Semitism that struck him as the moral equivalent of madness.


Don DeLillo: »Counterpoint: Three Movies, a Book, and an Old Photograph«, in: Grand Street, Nr. 73, Frühjahr 2004, S. 36-53, hier S. 41, 44, 46.