Most critics consider Correction to be Thomas Bernhard’s masterpiece. On the surface, the novel is very similar to Concrete and The Loser; indeed, one could call the three novels a trilogy on the dangers of striving for perfection. Whereas the other two are long interior monologues presented as one single paragraph, Correction is divided into two sections with individual headings. The first section is entitled “Hoeller’s Garret,” while the second part is called “Sifting and Sorting” and is noticeably different from the first part in style and content.
In the first section, the narrator—an intellectual afflicted with a lung disease—moves into the garret of a friend’s house (the name Hoeller strongly evokes the German word Hölle, meaning “hell”) to take charge of the papers of his longtime friend Roithamer, who has recently committed suicide. A note found on his body requested the narrator to become the executor and editor of his papers, especially of three versions of an essay that tries to explain the reasons for Roithamer’s failed utopian plan to construct a cone-shaped building in the middle of a forest, intended as the perfect abode for his beloved sister. In some unexplained way, however, the building led to the death of his sister shortly after he installed her there, and Roithamer then hanged himself in a nearby forest clearing.
The title of the novel is taken from the...
(The entire section is 571 words.)