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on 12 October 2014
Thomas Bernhard was recommended by a colleague and I'm glad I've made the writer's acquaintance after reading this small but perfectly formed poem of loathing for the Viennese cultural elite. I am not a classical music devotee so many of these allusions go over my head but the drunken composer-host of the "artistic dinner", revealed to be a nasty sexual predator, sums up the narrator's disgust at people he knew thirty years before and who have either failed to fulfil their creative promise, burnt out, or sold out (literally) to the establishment. Apparently, many Viennese worthies recognised themselves here and were upset at their depiction - and little wonder. There's compassion too, however, and that saves the book from being a mere rant, which it could so easily have become. There is also stunning writing and the first section, as our friend sits fulminating in his wing chair, is pure Beckett with a twist of lemon for edge. David McClintock supplies an excellent English translation for what may not be an immediately appealing work but which has the ring of truth, uncomfortable for many, and takes lyrical wing in the last few pages.
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on 10 May 2013
At one level 'Woodcutters' is an eloquent and delightfully amusing rant at the pretentious, ignorant cultural snobs of Viennese society and a brutal dissection of the mediocrity of the Viennese artistic world. It is written with an almost Swiftian venom and intensity of feeling.

At another level this relatively short novel is a commentary, sharply worded but never despairing, on human nature: how friendships between individuals are formed and how egoism breaks them down, how advancing age and experience transform perceptions, how criticism of others comes easily but a capacity for self-criticism is more valuable.

It is a cleverly structured story and certainly one of Bernhard's most impressive, though it will strike anyone familiar with his writing as going over some of the old territory.

My only other reservation concerns the ending. The image of the narrator achieving compassion and enlightenment as he runs towards central Vienna forms a jarring contrast with the scathing, contemptuous tone of the novel's heart. Bernhard needed to prepare the reader a little better for this volte-face.
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Thomas Bernhard is a writer who is new to me and I found the experience of reading this novella very interesting. It is a 181 page paragraph which describes the thought processes of a 50 something Austrian as he sits 'in the wing chair' as a guest at an 'artistic supper' at the apartment of the Auersbergers, a composer 'in the style of Webern' and his pretentious wife. The party has been thrown in honour of an actor from the Burgtheater, who is starring in an Ibsen play. The party follows up a chance meeting between the unnamed writer and the Auersbergers following the suicide of a mutual friend.

The story is a phenomenal study of irritation and obsession. The writer clearly despises the Auersbergers and the actor as well as everybody else at the party and the reader enters his murky misanthropic mindset and it turns into quite an amusing ride.

I am not sure that the writing really achieves greatness but I still very much enjoyed reading it.
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on 22 December 2013
Though his writing is really interesting and fluid, I found he banged on about the subject for far too long. Although as the story develops, one does learn a little bit more about a particular character (apart from the narrator) the tiny pieces of information that one is fed were for my taste, rather sparse and really not interesting enough. He writes brilliantly about the way one feels when one has made a choice to spend sometime in the wrong company, but he really presses the point too far and in a way that left this reader more annoyed with him, than with the circle of friends he writes about.
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on 20 January 2016
Excellent book! It arrived in very good condition.
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on 30 December 2011
This brilliant book and excellent translation is marred by several faulty spellings (eg PRACTICE as a verb and apostrophes in the wrong places).who are the editors, if any?
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on 2 December 2013
I am impressed by the efficient handling of my order and the low rating of the book by Thomas Berhard is due to dissappointed expectations only!
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