Thomas Bernhard: Goethe Dies

translated by James Reidel

This collection of four stories is, as longtime fans of Thomas Bernhard would expect, bleakly comic and inspiringly rancorous. The stories’ subject varies: in the first, which lends this volume its title, Goethe summons Wittgenstein to discuss the Tractatus Logicus-philosophicus; in “Montaigne: A Story in Twenty-Two Installments” a young man seals himself in a tower to read; “Reunion”, meanwhile, satirizes that very impulse to escape; and the final story rounds out the collection by making Bernhard himself a victim, persecuted by his greatest enemy – his homeland of Austria. Underpinning all these variously comic, tragic and bitingly satirical excursions is Bernhard’s abiding interest in, and deep knowledge of, the philosophy of doubt.

German original published by Suhrkamp Verlag, Berlin, under the title Goethe schtirbt in 2010.