PN Review Print and Online Poetry Magazine
Most Read... Rebecca WattsThe Cult of the Noble Amateur
(PN Review 239)
Mark FordLetters And So It Goes
Letters from Young Mr Grace
(aka John Ashbery)

(PN Review 239)
Henry Kingon Toby Martinez de las Rivas
(PN Review 244)
Eavan BolandA Lyric Voice at Bay
(PN Review 121)
Vahni CapildeoOn Judging Prizes, & Reading More than Six Really Good Books
(PN Review 237)
Tim Parksin conversation with Natalia Ginzburg
(PN Review 49)
Next Issue Peter Scupham remembers Anthony Thwaite in 'Chimes at Midnight' Sinead Morrissey spends A Week in GdaƄsk Rebecca Watts talks with Julia Copus about Charlotte Mew Boris Dralyuk and Irina Mashinski evoke Arseny Tarkovsky and his translator Peter Oram Frederic Raphael sends a letter to William Somerset Maugham
Poems Articles Interviews Reports Reviews Contributors
PNR 250 Poetry Archive Banner
Monthly Carcanet Books
PN Review New Issue

This article is taken from PN Review 51, Volume 13 Number 1, September - October 1986.

A Style from a Despair: The Novels of Thomas Bernhard Michael Hamburger
'... only the arts have been allegorical from the start and by virtue of this transferred significance remain binding at all times', Friederike Mayröcker remarks in passing in Das Herzzerreissende der Dinge (1985), her sequel to the autobiographical Reise Durch die Nacht. Since her own writing in the two prose books is a perpetuum mobile of visual and verbal associations, with no linear narrative progression, by 'allegorical' she cannot mean a deliberate construct of transferred or parallel significance. What her remark does suggest is that - mimetic or not, realistic or not - art cannot be a surrogate for the realities that it draws upon, but by its very nature must set up 'secondary realities'. That this applies to autobiographical writings as much as to works of fiction, in so far as they are works of art, is borne out not only by her prose books but by the works of Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke and Botho Strauss, among others.

'Anything communicated can be nothing but fraud and forgery, so nothing but fraud and forgery has ever been communicated ... for the truth is not communicable at all.' This is Thomas Bernhard's drastic way of putting it, in Die Entziehung (1976), one of his five autobiographical works that are scarcely distinguishable from his many works of fiction, if only because all his mature works speak through a single mask, and that mask is one of style. As he writes in the same autobiography, 'all my life long ...

Searching, please wait... animated waiting image