Top positive review
25 people found this helpful
"Difficult read but thought provoking".
on 14 December 1999
I've just finished reading the German original of this, and although it was not an easy read, it was well worth it. I hadn't read anything by Jelinek before, but have read quite a lot of Christa Wolf and Bachmann, who write on a similar vein,
For me, this book was more lurid and graphic than anything by the other two writers. Jelinek takes the theme of the suppression / silencing of women and creates a character who really only finds expression in music - she is utterly incapable of using conventional modes of expression (language) to voice her thoughts and feelings, and as a result her feelings themselves become distorted - Erika doesn't know how to live as a 'normal' human, and cannot distinguish between love, lust and violence.
The book had an interesting twist in that Erika is suppressed not only by the masculine world in which she lives, but also by her (nameless) mother - when the status of 'mother' is ironically the ultimate representation of woman. The mother becomes a tyrant, subordinating her daughter's desires and very personality to her own needs because she too cannot function in the outside male-dominated world.
This book was never an easy read, or comforting, but gave me a lot to think about, particularly in our world where people (especially women) are so judged on appearances. Erika seemed to be an example of how the outside world can alienate individuals, causing them to harm themselves mentally and physically. Erika comes across as a bizarre and eccentric character, but there is a lot of truth in how Jelinek depicts her.