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Extinction (Vintage International) Paperback – 8 Feb 2011


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Product details

  • Paperback: 325 pages
  • Publisher: Random House Inc (8 Feb. 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1400077613
  • ISBN-13: 978-1400077618
  • Product Dimensions: 13.2 x 1.9 x 20.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (10 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 669,017 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989) won many of the most prestigious literary prizes in Europe, including the Austrian State Prize, the Breman and Bruchner Prizes and Le Pix Seguier. Among his novels are The Loser, Concrete, and Extinction, all of which are available in Faber Finds. --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.

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9 of 9 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 19 Nov. 1997
Format: Paperback
If you really want to understand how your own mind works....the mechanics of thinking and reflection...consider the voice of Bernhard. This is the end piece in one of the most ambitious and interesting literary projects of the 20th century and hardly anyone knows about it...Bernhard stands in the first rank of cut-throat modernists and it will only be a matter of time before the true nature of his vision is finally appreciated.
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15 of 16 people found the following review helpful By Depressaholic on 22 May 2006
Format: Paperback
`Extinction' is a lucid deconstruction of the façade of family life. Franz-Josef is an academic working in Rome when he receives a telegram informing him that his parents and brother have been killed in an accident, and that he must return to his familial home of Wolfsegg in Austria. The first half of the book focuses on Franz-Josef's feelings towards his family and upbringing, as told to Gambetti, his student in Rome. The second half covers his interaction with his sisters and family after returning to Wolfsegg to attend the funerals and take charge of the estate that has now passed to him. `Extinction' is an inner monologue describing Franz-Josef's antipathy toward his home, his family and Austria as a whole.

`Extinction' is a brutal piece of writing. Franz-Josef is a left-leaning intellectual, but his family, and his country, are portrayed as bourgeois and Nazi. Their priorities are a million miles from his, and he casts himself in the role of black sheep, aided and abetted by his Uncle Georg, his corrupting influence and fellow family `embarrassment'. Franz-Josef holds nothing back, telling Gambetti of his utter disgust for Austria and its way of life, and for his sisters, pursuing small-minded goals in short, ugly lives, and for his dead parents and brother. In Rome he is in his element. Back in Wolfsegg, he is the outsider, forced to play host to unrepentant Nazis and self-important middle classes in pointless jobs. He reluctantly performs his part, but the sights and places of his youth fuel his feeling of being an outsider. His goal for his time in Wolfsegg becomes the extinction of his past and his connection to it.

`Extinction' is obviously not a happy read, or a particularly easy one.
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4 of 4 people found the following review helpful By A Customer on 5 Mar. 2000
Format: Paperback
This strange book turned out to be a funny and biting novel. But don't expect a plot as such or much in the way of witty dialogue. Like most of Bernhard's books this is a monologue, with no paragraph breaks or speech marks. Almost all of the action takes place inside the narrator's head as he wrestles with the dilemma of whether to return to Austria to claim his family estate. He loathes his native country, but cannot escape it. Not easy to read, but a wonderful tone of hatred and black humour makes it very worthwhile persevering.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By ipek on 29 April 2012
Format: Paperback
Thomas Berhard is my favourite writer. I have discovered him late in life. We both lived in Salzburg in the same time and frequented the same café. I truly believe that we have seen each other either in that café or crossed each other during the late afternoon walks on Monchsberg. This book is one of his best if not the best. Yes, it is written brutally, but it is how he writes. His books are like un-retouched photographs. The raw truth. As far as I know no other writer wrote about this kind of feelings about his family. It needs a tremendous amount of courage to write about one's mother,father, brother and sisters in this manner. Such mixed feelings between hate
and very, very small pieces of affection. Pity and understanding. Accusing yet again understanding. Very harsh feelings entangled with a deep understanding. A masterpiece in my humble opinion.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Mike Collins on 22 Nov. 2014
Format: Paperback
TB deserves to be better known and appreciated in the English-speaking world as he could write like a dream and he is exceptionally well-served here by translator David McClintock. Hypnotic prose rhythms are created by the narrator's (Franz-Josef Murau) frequent use of his friend's name, Gambetti, an effect also carried off brilliantly by WG Sebald in Austerlitz. Because of this addictive quality once you start reading the book it is hard to put down, especially as there are no paragraphs or chapters. Extinction focuses on the narrator's growing up on - and return to as its heir from Rome - the family farm in Wolfsegg, Upper Austria, about which he has strong views, for reasons that become clear. TB's hatred of much of his nation's history and culture, particularly its Nazism and embracing of Roman Catholicism (embodied by nuncio Spadolini), both of which he finds nauseating and intellectually stultifying, is given full rein, along with a good kicking for farmers, wine-cork manufacturers and detestable siblings. What he finally decides to do with Wolfsegg is breathtaking... but that would be telling. If the quality and intellectual depth of the prose was anything less than sublime this would be impotent ranting; but it is and it isn't.
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