Thomas Bernhard, photo
Bernhard, Thomas, b. Cloister Heerlen (Netherlands), Feb. 9, 1931, d. Gmunden (Upper Austria), Feb. 12, 1989, dramatist, novelist, poet. Spent most of his childhood with his maternal grandparents (his grandfather was the writer J. Freumbichler) in Vienna and Seekirchen am Wallersee in the province of Salzburg. After his mother´s marriage the family moved to Traunstein (Bavaria), then to Salzburg. 1949 B. contracted an incurable lung disease, 1949-1951 hospitalised in Grafenhof tuberculosis sanatorium (autobiographical works: "Ein Kind", 1982; "Die Ursache", 1975; "Der Keller", 1976; "Der Atem", 1978; "Die Kälte", 1981; a compilation of these five works published in English under the title "Gathering Evidence", 1985). On his discharge from the sanatorium studied music at the Mozarteum in Salzburg and in Vienna (1957 diploma from the Mozarteum) and worked as legal correspondent for the local newspaper Demokratisches Volksblatt. 1957 published the collection of poetry "Auf der Erde und in der Hölle"; further collections of poetry followed. 1963 published his first novel "Frost", which drew a bleak picture of Austrian provincial life. From 1965 lived mainly on his farm in Ohlsdorf (Upper Austria). Along with his tragicomic outlook on life, death, illness and human misery, perpetual criticism of Austria is an important hallmark of all his works, whether autobiographical novels, fiction prose or plays. Especially his play "Heroes Square" ("Heldenplatz", 1988), an indictment of anti-Semitism in contemporary Austria, cemented his reputation as a severe and ruthless critic of his own country. 1967 Austrian State Prize. 1970 Büchner Prize.
In his will he decreed that no further performances of his plays (apart from those produced by C. Peymann at the Burgtheater), no reprints or public readings of his works were to take place in Austria. Since the establishment of the Thomas Bernhard Foundation in 1998 his heirs have decided to disregard this part of his will.
Further works: Poetry: Unter dem Eisen des Mondes, 1958; In hora mortis, 1958. - Prose: Amras, 1964; Gargoyles (Verstörung, 1967); The Lime Works (Das Kalkwerk, 1970); Concrete (Beton, 1982); Ancient Masters (Alte Meister, 1985); Extinction (Auslöschung, 1986). - Dramas: Ein Fest für Boris, 1970; Der Präsident, 1975; Minetti, 1976; Über allen Gipfeln ist Ruh, 1981; Ritter, Dene, Voss, 1984; Der Theatermacher, 1985. Edition: Gesammelte Gedichte, ed. by V. Bohn, 1991.
Literature: W. Schmidt-Dengler, Der Übertreibungskünstler, 21989; B. Sorg, T. B., 21992; H. Höller, T. B. in Selbstzeugnissen und Bilddokumenten, 1993; W. Schmidt-Dengler (ed.), T. B., 1997; A. Pfabigan, T. B., 1999; J. Hoell, T. B., 2000.
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