Other Literary Forms

(Critical Edition of Dramatic Literature)

Despite an early interest in the drama revealed in an essay on Antonin Artaud and Bertolt Brecht, which he wrote while a student at the Musik Akademie in Vienna, and his experimentation with one-act plays before 1960, Thomas Bernhard achieved initial literary recognition for his poetry and prose. Only since the publication and premiere of A Party for Boris in 1970 did Bernhard occupy an important niche in contemporary German drama. His emergence as a playwright did not signify a radical digression from earlier philosophical or thematic concerns; in his plays, as well as in his later prose, Bernhard continued to pursue his obsession with life’s theatricality and absurdity.

In addition to contributions of poems to anthologies and journals, Bernhard published four volumes of poetry. After the completion of the libretto Die Rosen der Einöde (1959; the roses of the desert), he embarked on a career as a writer of both long and short fiction. His Wittgensteins Neffe: Eine Freundschaft (1983; Wittgenstein’s Nephew, 1986), a violent memoir consisting of one unrelenting paragraph that covers 164 pages, attests his continuing preoccupation with Ludwig Wittgenstein, given fullest expression in the novel Korrectur (1975; Correction, 1979) but apparent throughout Bernhard’s uvre. In addition, Bernhard published various autobiographical works as well as programmatic essays and speeches.