24 October 2006

The Limits of Rhetorical Negativity

Today's happy thought comes to us via Ben Marcus, writing about Thomas Bernhard in the November Harper's:
Bernhard's language strained the limits of rhetorical negativity: if his prose were any more anguished, it would simply transmit as moaning and wailing. Building interest in the grief experienced by people who look at the world and find it unbearable was a dark art of Bernhard's, and his characters do not resist the long walk to death's door but run to it and claw at the surface, begging for entry. After all, says Strauch, the agonized painter in Bernhard's first novel, Frost, "there is an obligation towards the depth of one's own inner abyss," even if meeting that obligation destroys you.
Note that in addition to Frost being released in the U.S. for the first time, Bernhard's Gargoyles and The Loser have also been re-released in paperback.

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