January 6th, 2011 / 7:42 am
Power Quote

Two Sentences from Bernhard’s The Loser

In the opening pages of Thomas Bernhard’s The Loser, the narrator says:

If I hadn’t met Glenn Gould, I probably wouldn’t have given up the piano and I would have become a piano virtuoso and perhaps even one of the best piano virtuosos in the world, I thought in the inn. When we meet the very best, we have to give up, I thought.

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  1. Anonymous


  2. Dreezer

      I’ve never read Bernhard, but that’s pretty funny. I didn’t know he did funny.

  3. Andy Linkner

      Bernhard is often wickedly funny. Read “The Woodcutters”; that book is funny from beginning to end.

  4. deadgod

      Leaving aside what might be/is mistaken about competitiveness in music, those sentences – and the rest of the novel? – follow directly on from the book’s title.

  5. Neil Griffin

      I have only read Woodcutters. I found it more bitter than funny. Is the Loser a good place to jump in next? I want to give him another chance, since smart folks on this site, as well as a few others, speak so highly of his writing.

  6. Kyle Minor

      I think most of the Bernhard I read is tonally similar to Woodcutters, so that’s worth knowing if you’re thinking of reading more of him. My favorites are Loser, Correction, The Lime Works, and Gargoyles.

  7. Lincoln Michel

      The Lime Works is so good! (and underread)

  8. curt

      just tried to read this book. so exhausting. so great, obv. instead i reached for the new ‘my prizes’ which is hilarious.

      my favorite bernhard is ‘concrete’

  9. Ryan Call

      hmmm, i think ‘concrete’ was the funniest of what ive read so far (correction, concrete, wittgensteins nephew; i have woodcutters and loser toberead). i foudn a passage online where he’s contemplating travel, which is both funny and sad to me.


      the bit with the suitcases makes me laugh, even though the scene is so desperatefeeling:

      “I placed the suitcases between the chest and the door and contemplated them from a favorable angle.”

  10. Jonathan

      Bernhard tends to be pretty funny. The Loser and Concrete are my two favorites, and I agree with the books other posters have mentioned as well, but one that I don’t think many have read is Yes, which may close with my favorite last sentence in literature.

      I talked a bit about Bernhard in an essay for The Collagist a few months back that I’m pretty sure nobody read.

  11. Jonathan

      Make that favorite last two sentences.

  12. Andy Linkner

      Nobody has yet mentioned one other truly top flight Bernhard opus: “Gathering Evidence” (the multi-volume autobiography of his childhood and early adulthood). Written in exactly the same scathing tone laced with black humor as his fiction, this one is passed over at your peril.

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