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Yes (Phoenix Fiction) [Paperback]

Thomas Bernhard
5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)

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Book Description

1 Sep 1992 Phoenix Fiction
The narrator, a scientist working on antibodies and suffering from emotional and mental illness, meets a Persian woman, the companion of a Swiss engineer, at an office in rural Austria. For the scientist, his endless talks with the strange Asian woman mean release from his condition, but for the Persian woman, as her own circumstances deteriorate, there is only one answer. . . Thomas Bernhard was one of the few major writers of the second half of this century.--Gabriel Josipovici, "Independent."With his death, European letters lost one of its most perceptive, uncompromising voices since the war.-- "Spectator" Widely acclaimed as a novelist, playwright, and poet, Thomas Bernhard (1931-89) won many of the most prestigious literary prizes of Europe, including the Austrian State Prize, the Bremen and Brü chner prizes, and Le Prix Sé guier.


Product details

  • Paperback: 140 pages
  • Publisher: University of Chicago Press; University of Chicago Press Ed edition (1 Sep 1992)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0226043908
  • ISBN-13: 978-0226043906
  • Product Dimensions: 20 x 13 x 1 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1 customer review)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 525,506 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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The Swiss and his woman friend had appeared at the real-estate agent Moritz's place at just the moment when, for the first time, Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A formidable novel on the theme of isolation 22 April 2006
By HORAK
Format:Paperback
The author portrays an unnamed narrator living in an Austrian village in a "mind-hostile and mood-killing neighbourhood". He lives in nearly total isolation having given up all contacts for the sake of his intellectual work. But eventually his contactlessness proves a catastrophe bringing him to the verge of madness, insanity and suicide. For three months he never leaves his house, full of fear, in a kind of self-incarceration.

One night, seeking the help of the only person he trusts, a real-estate agent called Moritz, the narrator becomes acquainted with an odd couple: a Swiss and his Persian wife who have just arrived in the village to buy a plot for the construction of their house. He finds the Persian woman a regenerating thinking, talking and philosophising partner who saves him from depression and during their conversations he discovers why the Swiss came there to buy a plot which has a marked slope, a high degree of dampness and where snow clearance is impossible in the winter.

A work in which nihilism finds its most uncompromising expression, which presents a human situation devoid of any meaning and which shows that speech is a useless therapy to fend off death. From this perspective there is only one possible answer to the ultimate question.
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Amazon.com: 5.0 out of 5 stars  6 reviews
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Intellectual roller-coaster with a bang. 17 Dec 2002
By John Hovig - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
"Yes" is the story of a man who lives in rural Austria, a scientist with an overactive imagination, and a psychologically oversensitive nature. His friend, a real-estate agent, sells a highly undesirable plot of land to a Swiss couple, a man retiring from a successful career as a power-station architect, and his female companion, a middle-aged Persian woman. The narrator strikes a friendship with the woman, and finds her his intellectual equal, or at least his emotional one. He wonders why this couple has chosen that horrible plot of land (which his friend had never previously been able to sell), and why they are building an ugly home on it.
He begins to suspect the retiring architect does not treat his female companion with as much respect as she deserves. He retreats into his home for a time, trying to get away from the world, in a fit of general agitation and anxiety, but eventually returns to his friends' company, and deepens his friendship with the Persian woman, who seems to be growing apart from her companion. The novel ends with an emotional shock, summarizing the story's happenings, and explaining it in highly dramatic terms.
This novel is unequivocally brilliant. Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989) does not employ a style easy to understand at first, but it is worth every ounce of energy invested. For example, he has written this short novel with no paragraph breaks whatsoever. (The book is 135 pages long, but the type is larger than usual and the pages shorter than usual.)
Bernhard writes in an overflowing, fulsome style, not unlike Samuel Beckett, full of language, full of description, incessant, and captivating. This is exactly his strategy: he is trying to capture the reader by forcing them to expend so much energy following his text, his narrative, his story, and his unusual style, that the final words of the story will hit the reader like a ton of bricks. This is Bernhard's signature, and this novel is a fantastic example.
Any reader should try this novel who is interested in an inventive, experimental novel, but one which does not veer too far from normal story-telling. Berhard's novels, for all their roller-coaster style, are actually quite conventional, and "Yes" is a great introduction to his literary work. His vocabulary is sharp, his characters are well spun, his occasional insights are spectacular, and his stories are intruiguing. This novel is highly recommended for anyone wishing to sharpen their mind, find a new adventure after having enjoyed Beckett's works, or introduce themself to one of the finest writers of the 20th century.
11 of 11 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Minor Key 11 Jan 2001
By Jason Blickstein - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
I have long been a fan of Bernhard, and this is one of my favorites. It appears to be less ambitious than his "masterpieces," but this untrue. I find it to be one of his most intimate, intelligent, comical and most brutal pieces of work. It is incredibly concise and as readable as "Wittgenstein's Nephew." It contains everything one desires of Bernhard, due in part to the fine translation, stripped down to the to the bone. Something is always lost in translation, but an excellent ear and eye has been at work here. It is a poetic masterpiece with blinding light, brialliant language, and a twisted satori. Aside from the politcal, moral, social and philosophical criticism that is Bernhard's trademark, there is a unbelievable consecration between the author and reader that takes place and demands that "you must change your life." If you allow it to happen you will be left with nothing but an eyelash and a sock, but you will find that the author with all his vitriol,sarcasm,and "so black it's blue" humor, has still preserved what is best in the human heart, and damn, he tells a good story.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars YES TO DARKNESS 10 Aug 2001
By Sesho - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
This novel was my first exposure to Thomas Bernhard and I have to admit I was initially put off by its style. Some of the sentences went on for a page and half, using only commas as punctuation. After the first page or two I began to enjoy it. The plot is very simple. The narrator is a scientist who has retired to the Austrian countryside to conduct his research on antibodies. At first he believes that the isolation will benefit his studies but gradually, he works less and less, due to the great depression that comes over him. He begins to cut off all relations with the outside world, keeping only a token connection with his friend, Moritz. When he comes to recognize that his mind can only be stimulated by socializing with other people it is too late. He cannot free himself of his terrible loneliness. It's been so long since he has communicated with a human being he doesn't know where to start. All this changes when a Swiss engineer and a Persian woman show up at Moritz's house to buy a plot of land to build a home on. Talking with the woman, the narrator finds new life, but tragically, it will be shortlived.
This is a great novel. I have never seen the mindset of isolation and the depression that follows better portrayed. The style of the piece lends itself to a breathless reading. You don't notice that periods are scarce after a while. It has an exquisite flow to it. All the characters are nicely done. The translation is excellent. I really have nothing negative to say about it.
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A formidable novel on the theme of isolation 22 April 2006
By HORAK - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
The author portrays an unnamed narrator living in an Austrian village in a "mind-hostile and mood-killing neighbourhood". He lives in nearly total isolation having given up all contacts for the sake of his intellectual work. But eventually his contactlessness proves a catastrophe bringing him to the verge of madness, insanity and suicide. For three months he never leaves his house, full of fear, in a kind of self-incarceration.

One night, seeking the help of the only person he trusts, a real-estate agent called Moritz, the narrator becomes acquainted with an odd couple: a Swiss and his Persian wife who have just arrived in the village to buy a plot for the construction of their house. He finds the Persian woman a regenerating thinking, talking and philosophising partner who saves him from depression and during their conversations he discovers why the Swiss came there to buy a plot which has a marked slope, a high degree of dampness and where snow clearance is impossible in the winter.

A work in which nihilism finds its most uncompromising expression, which presents a human situation devoid of any meaning and which shows that speech is a useless therapy to fend off death. From this perspective there is only one possible answer to the ultimate question.
5.0 out of 5 stars One of the best books read for 2014 3 July 2014
By Kate - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
My first experience with Thomas Bernhard has left me wanting more and half way through I ordered two more of his books. While a short book, this took me several days to read because of the stream of consciousness and the beautiful language that encompasses the mind of the author/narrator. I felt while reading as if I was taking a leisurely stroll through the mind of the main character. I found the stream of consciousness fascinating and wondered if this was because of the translation or, if a more interesting concept, that it was deliberate on the part of the author in trying to explain the main character's mental illness. Should you read this? My answer is a heartfelt YES!
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