Victor Halfwit: A Winter's Tale

Victor Halfwit: A Winter's Tale

Hardback Seagull World Literature

By (author) Thomas Bernhard, Translated by Martin Chalmers, Illustrated by Sunandini Banerjee


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  • Publisher: Seagull Books London Ltd
  • Format: Hardback | 96 pages
  • Dimensions: 230mm x 290mm x 32mm | 1,479g
  • Publication date: 1 July 2011
  • Publication City/Country: Greenford
  • ISBN 10: 1906497648
  • ISBN 13: 9781906497644
  • Illustrations note: 45 colour plates
  • Sales rank: 419,677

Product description

One night in the middle of winter, as deep snow covers the mountains and forests of Austria, a doctor is crossing a ridge from Traich to Foding to see a patient. He stumbles over a body in the darkness and fears it is a corpse. But it's not a corpse at all - in fact, it's wooden-legged Victor Halfwit, collapsed, but still very much alive. So begins this dark and comic tale by celebrated Austrian playwright, novelist, and poet Thomas Bernhard. We discover that Halfwit foolishly made a bet with a local mill owner that Halfwit could cover the distance between Traich and Foding in an hour or less - despite his wooden legs, the darkness of the night, the deep snow, and the brutal mid-winter cold. Thanks to the serendipitous presence of the doctor, Halfwit wins the bet and thus will be able to buy the new boots that he desired - but he has destroyed his wooden legs in the very process of winning. "Victor Halfwit" may have originally been conceived as an absurd fable for children, but Bernhard's masterly grasp of the intersection of tragedy and comedy renders this a story for all ages.

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Author information

Thomas Bernhard (1931-89) grew up in Salzburg and Vienna, where he studied music. In 1957 he began a second career as a playwright, poet, and novelist. He went on to win many of the most prestigious literary awards of Europe. Martin Chalmers is a translator and editor whose translations include works by Hubert Fichte, Ernst Weiss, Herta Mueller, Alexander Kluge, Emine Sevgi Oezdamar, and Erich Hackl. Sunandini Banerjee is an editor, translator, and graphic designer who lives and works in Calcutta.

Review quote

"The feeling grows that Thomas Bernhard is the most original, concentrated novelist writing in German. His connections... with the great constellation of Kafka, Musil, and Broch become ever clearer." - George Steiner, Times Literary Supplement "What is extraordinary about Bernhard is that his relentless pessimism never seems open to ridicule; his world is so powerfully imagined that it can seem to surround you like little else in literature." - New Yorker"