The Lime Works
By Thomas Bernhard
(Vintage, Paperback, 9781400077588, 256pp.)
Publication Date: March 9, 2010
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For five years, Konrad has imprisoned himself and his crippled wife in an abandoned lime works where he’s conducted odd auditory experiments and prepared to write his masterwork, The Sense of Hearing. As the story begins, he’s just blown the head off his wife with the Mannlicher carbine she kept strapped to her wheelchair. The murder and the bizarre life that led to it are the subject of a mass of hearsay related by an unnamed life-insurance salesman in a narrative as mazy, byzantine, and mysterious as the lime works—Konrad’s sanctuary and tomb.
Thomas Bernhard was born in Holland in 1931 and grew up in Austria. He studied music at the Akademie Mozarteum in Salzburg. In 1957 he began a second career, as a playwright, poet, and novelist. The winner of the three most distinguished and coveted literary prizes awarded in Germany, he has become one of the most widely translated and admired writers of his generation. He published nine novels, an autobiography, one volume of poetry, four collections of short stories, and six volumes of plays. Thomas Bernhard died in Austria in 1989.
“A superior book . . . deeply thought and felt. . . . Bernhard is a writer of great originality and fascination.”
—The New York Review of Books
“Bernhard’s prose is hypnotic, unstoppable, as rapid as thought itself. He makes you think, as all great writers do, that at any moment he can say anything.”
—The Washington Post Book World
“A masterfully dense set of esthetic, social and political metaphors about contemporary life, about art, about obsessive commitment to anything. . . . The book is a jungle of meaning, the opposite of simplistic allegory, and a major achievement.”
—The New Republic
“A novel that forces you to think, that compels you to measure your life and rituals against those of its strange, though frequently all-too-human, protagonist.”