Loser

ISBN-10: 1400077540

ISBN-13: 9781400077540

Edition: 2006

List price: $15.00 Buy it from $9.67
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Description:

"The Loser" is a brilliant fictional account of an imaginary relationship among three men--the late piano virtuoso Glenn Gould, the unnamed narrator, and a fictional pianist, Wertheimer--who meet in 1953 to study with Vladimir Horowitz. In the face of Gould's incomparable genius, Wertheimer and the narrator renounce their musical ambition, but in very different ways. While the latter sets out to write a book about Gould, Wertheimer sinks deep into despair and self-destruction. "Like Swift, Bernhard writes like a sacred monster. . . . A remarkable literary performer: [he] goes to extremes in ways that vivify our sense of human possibilities, however destructive".--Richard Locke, "Wall Street Journal" "The excellence of Bernhard--and it is a kind virtuosity, ably maintained in this American translation--is to make his monotonous loathing not only sting but also, like Gould at the piano, sing".--Paul Griffiths, "Times Literary Supplement" "[He is] one of the century's most gifted writers".--David Plott, "Philadelphia Inquirer" "America has been sadly immune to the charm and challenge of Bernhard's work and the American public has deprived itself of the deep and serious pleasure of reading one of the great writers of this century. . . . One of the great works of world literature. Its arrival on these shores is a significant literary event".--Thomas McGonigle, "New York Newsday"
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Book details

List price: $15.00
Copyright year: 2006
Publisher: Knopf Doubleday Publishing Group
Publication date: 10/17/2006
Binding: Paperback
Pages: 208
Size: 5.00" wide x 8.00" long x 0.75" tall
Weight: 0.484
Language: English

Thomas Bernhard was born to Austrian parents in Holland and reared by his mother in the vicinity of Salzburg. His temperament and erratic health created difficulties for him as he grew up in a society governed by National Socialists. Bernhard found the alpine landscapes of his native Austria far more harsh than lyrical. The isolation of the characters in his novels is only slightly mitigated by friendship, generally only between men, and never by love. Yet many readers feel this lack of sentimentality gives Bernhard's work an epic power.

Suicide calculated well in advance, I thought, no spontaneous act of desperation.Even Glenn Gould, our friend and the most im-- portant piano virtuoso of the century, only made it to the age of fifty-one, I thought to myself as I entered the inn.
Now of course he didn't kill himself like Wertheimer, but died, as they say, a natural death.
Four and a half months in New York and always the Goldberg Variations and the Art of the Fugue, four and a half months of Klavierexerzitien, as Glenn Gould always said only in German, I thought.
Exactly twenty-eight years ago we had lived in Leopoldskron and studied with Horowitz and we (at least Wertheimer and I, but of course not Glenn Gould) learned more from Horowitz during a completely rain-drenched summer than during eight previous years at the Mozarteum and the Vienna Academy.
Horowitz rendered all our professors null and void.
But these dreadful teachers had been necessary to understand Horowitz.
For two and a half months it rained without stopping and we locked ourselves in our rooms in Leopoldskron and worked day and night, insomnia (Glenn Gould's) had become a necessary state for us, during the night we worked through what Horowitz had taught us the day before.
We ate almost nothing and the whole time never had the backaches we habitually suffered from with our former teachers; with Horowitz the backaches disappeared because we were studying so intensely they couldn't appear.
Once our course with Horowitz was over it was clear that Glenn was already a better piano player than Horowitz himself, and from that moment on Glenn was the most important piano virtuoso in the world for me, no matter how many piano players I heard from that moment on, none of them played like Glenn, even Rubinstein, whom I've always loved, wasn't better.
Wertheimer and I were equally good, even Wertheimer always said, Glenn is the best, even if we didn't yet dare to say that he was the best player of the century.
When Glenn went back to Canada we had actually lost our Canadian friend, we didn't think we'd ever see him again, he was so possessed by his art that we had to assume he couldn't continue in that state for very long and would soon die.
But two years after we'd studied together under Horowitz Glenn came to the Salzburg Festival to play the Goldberg Variations, which two years previously he had practiced with us day and night at the Mozarteum and had rehearsed again and again.
After the concert the papers wrote that no pianist had ever played the Goldberg Variations so artistically, that is, after his Salzburg concert they wrote what we had already claimed and known two years previously.
We had agreed to meet with Glenn after his concert at the Ganshof in Maxglan, an old inn I particularly like.
We drank water and didn't say a thing.
At this reunion I told Glenn straight off that Wertheimer (who had come to Salzburg from Vienna) and I hadn't believed for a minute we would ever see him, Glenn, again, we were constantly plagued by the thought that Glenn would destroy himself after returning to Canada from Salzburg, destroy himself with his music obsession, with his piano radicalism.
I actually said the words piano radicalism to him.
My piano radicalism, Glenn always said afterward, and I know that he always used this expression, even in Canada and in America.
Even then, almost thirty years before his death, Glenn never loved any composer more than Bach, Handel was his second favorite, he despised Beethoven, even Mozart was no longer the composer I loved above all others when he spoke about him, I thought, as I entered the inn.
Glenn never played a single note without humming, I thought, no other piano player ever had that habit.
He spoke of his lung disease as if it were his second art.
That we had the same illness at the same time and then always came down with it again, I thought, and in the end even Wertheimer got our illness.
But Glenn didn't die from this lung disease, I thought.
He was killed by the impasse he had played himself into for almost forty years, I thought.
He never gave up the piano, I thought, of course not, whereas Wertheimer and I gave up the piano because we never attained the inhuman state that Glenn attained, who by the way never escaped this inhuman state, who didn't even want to escape this inhuman state.
Wertheimer had his B
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