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and insisted at his death that none of his works be published in Austria for seventy years, a provision later repealed by his half-brother. Kenneth J. Northcott is professor emeritus of German at the University of Chicago. He has translated a number of books for the University of Chicago Press.
"There's very little peace to be found within the minds of the
characters of Austrian author Bernhard's celebrated philosophical
novella Walking. It's not the easiest of reads--an account
of the conversations between the unnamed narrator and his friend
and walking companion Oehler, the two men's discussion inevitably
drawn back to that of the fate of a mutual friend of theirs,
Karrer, who recently went mad and is now in an asylum--but there's
an absurd humour lurking between the lines."--Lucy Scholes
"Independent (UK) "
"Walking is indispensible Bernhard, a novella that can go toe to toe with his finest novels. At a brisk eighty-six pages, it's also a great entry point for readers who haven't yet made time for Bernhard. All of his obsessions and stylistic mannerisms--the things that make Bernhard Bernhard--are on full display here. . . . As is usual with Bernhard, the ceaseless pessimism is actually very comic, and as Oehler and the narrator continue to state positions on the slow death of intellectualism and thinking, the narrative ramps toward one of the greatest moments in all of literature, . . . eighteen pages of brutal hilarity."--Rain Taxi Review of Books
"Our precious individual lives, we discover, are only a symptom of a swirling, uncentered excess of thought in which we lose our direction and identity. We lose ourselves into madness, we find, not at the end of reason's course but in the infinity between two beats of reason's clock. It is Bernhard's genius to be able to make this revelation darkly, but giddily, humorous. Kenneth J. Northcott's translation brilliantly renders the drama of this piece, which reads like a soliloquy revealing the complex inner tides constituting an individual psyche. . . . Uncompromising."--Chicago Tribune
"In Walking, we see burgeoning signs of one of the most distinct literary voices of the twentieth century. . . . A small treasure."--Rain Taxi
"It is with Walking, worth the price of admission, that we understand how Bernhard's writing, a writing constantly struggling against, is a consistent, desperate, humorous, bitter, and all-too-human attempt to keep from going under."--Review of Contemporary Fiction