The Voice Imitator

The Voice Imitator

3.82 (979 ratings by Goodreads)
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Description

The Austrian playwright, novelist, and poet Thomas Bernhard (1931-89) is acknowledged as among the major writers of our times. At once pessimistic and exhilarating, Bernhard's work depicts the corruption of the modern world, the dynamics of totalitarianism, and the interplay of reality and appearance. In this stunning translation of The Voice Imitator, Bernhard gives us one of his most darkly comic works. A series of parable-like anecdotes--some drawn from newspaper reports, some from conversation, some from hearsay--this satire is both subtle and acerbic. What initially appear to be quaint little stories inevitably indict the sterility and callousness of modern life, not just in urban centers but everywhere. Bernhard presents an ordinary world careening into absurdity and disaster. Politicians, professionals, tourists, civil servants--the usual victims of Bernhard's inspired misanthropy--succumb one after another to madness, mishap, or suicide. The shortest piece, titled Mail, illustrates the anonymity and alienation that have become standard in contemporary society: For years after our mother's death, the Post Office still delivered letters that were addressed to her. The Post Office had taken no notice of her death.

In his disarming, sometimes hilarious style, Bernhard delivers a lethal punch with every anecdote. George Steiner has connected Bernhard to the great constellation of Kafka, Musil, and Broch, and John Updike has compared him to Grass, Handke, and Weiss. The Voice Imitator reminds us that Thomas Bernhard remains the most caustic satirist of our age.
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Product details

  • Paperback | 114 pages
  • 140 x 215 x 9mm
  • University of Chicago Press
  • Chicago, IL, United States
  • English
  • 2nd
  • black & white illustrations
  • 0226044025
  • 9780226044026
  • 201,226

Back cover copy

In The Voice Imitator, translated by Kenneth Northcott, Bernhard gives us one of his most darkly comic works. A series of parable-like anecdotes - some drawn from newspaper reports, some from conversation, some from hearsay - this satire is both subtle and acerbic. What initially appear to be quaint little stories indict the sterility and callousness of modern life, not just in urban centers but everywhere. Bernhard presents an ordinary world careening into absurdity and disaster. Politicians, professionals, tourists, civil servants - the usual victims of Bernhard's inspired misanthropy - succumb one after another to madness, mishap, or suicide.
show more

About Thomas Bernhard

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 prizes of Europe (including the Austrian State Prize, the Bremen and Bruchner prizes, and Le Prix Seguier), became one of the most widely admired writers of his generation, and insisted at his death that none of his works be published in Austria for seventy years, a provision later repealed by his half-brother. Translator, scholar, and stage actor Kenneth J. Northcott (1922-2019) was professor emeritus of Germanic Studies at the University of Chicago and the translator of numerous German-language books for the University of Chicago Press. He is especially known for his inspired translations of works by the Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard, all of which remain in print: The Voice Imitator, Walking, Three Novellas, and Histrionics: Three Plays.
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Rating details

979 ratings
3.82 out of 5 stars
5 27% (261)
4 37% (367)
3 29% (281)
2 6% (62)
1 1% (8)
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