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Extinction (Vintage International) [Paperback]

Professor Thomas Bernhard , David McLintock
4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)

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Book Description

8 Feb 2011 Vintage International
The last work of fiction by one of the twentieth century’s greatest artists, Extinction is widely considered Thomas Bernhard’s magnum opus.
Franz-Josef Murau—the intellectual black sheep of a powerful Austrian land-owning family—lives in Rome in self-imposed exile, surrounded by a coterie of artistic and intellectual friends. On returning from his sister’s wedding on the family estate of Wolfsegg, having resolved never to go home again, Murau receives a telegram informing him of the death of his parents and brother in a car crash. Not only must he now go back, he must do so as the master of Wolfsegg. And he must decide its fate. Written in the seamless, mesmerizing style for which Bernhard was
famous, Extinction is the ultimate proof of his extraordinary literary genius.

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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: 20.3 x 13.4 x 1.9 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (8 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 650,842 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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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Consciousness 19 Nov 1997
By A Customer
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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13 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unhappy Families 22 May 2006
`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
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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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Meticulously constructed, ruthless 30 Nov 2000
By A Customer
Most of the narrator's family have been wiped out before the end of the first page. But despite this, Extinction soon establishes a deceptively light manner, with a pleasant picture of the writer's life in Rome and an entertaining list of the grudges he bears against his mostly now deceased immediate relations.
The mood darkens as we discover more about this background of his and about his family's Nazi sympathies. His grudges turn out to be not so trivial. They begin to seem a personal manifestation of Austria's past.
The book is in two sections, neither of which contains so much as a paragraph break, and it's written in a style which is almost monotonous, though never disconcerting. Such a continuous structure means that the unfolding of the narrator's situation is very gradual and convincing.
The writer reaches a conclusion which is unquestionable on the one hand, and impossible on the other. It's a meticulously constructed and truly ruthless satire.
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