on 1 September 2005
This early novel from the Austrian master introduces many Bernhardian themes that will become familiar to readers that become drawn into the strangely addictive world of Bernhardian eccentrics and deranged visionaries. The first half of this novel begins conventionally enough, being an account of a young boys journey with his father as a peripatetic doctor in a bleak mountain region somewhere in central europe. The unrelieved suffering of the benighted inhabitants is matched only by the harshness of the landscape. What relief the doctor brings only seems a temporary respite to the doomed residents he encounters.
The second half of this novel introduces the mature Bernhard style, being the solipsistic musings of a clearly unhinged aristocrat. The decline of the Prince and his dynasty represent the corruptions of spirit and anomie that haunt the country as a whole and will become an abiding theme of the Bernhardian figure.
Much imitated but rarely equaled, the Bernhard oeuvre stands as a unique monument to the follies and madness that was 20th century european history.