Martin Huber (Literaturwissenschaft, Wien/Köln)

How does one become a "Nestbeschmutzer"? – On the development of the public image of Thomas Bernhard

Ort: Bibliothek des Internationalen Kollegs Morphomata, Weyertal 59 (Rückgebäude, 3. Etage), 50937 Köln

Zeit: 18.00 Uhr

Kontakt: Karena Weduwen

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The talk will be held in German.

As viewed both in Austria and internationally Thomas Bernhard is still today seen as one of his country’s sharpest literary critics. For one part of the public media and political scene (above all the tabloid newspapers and many politicians), he was for that reason stamped in his lifetime with the label Nestbeschmutzer, someone who fouls his own nest. On the other hand, that itself guaranteed his high standing among the (soi disant) critical and (left-)liberal opposite side.

The lecture is devoted to a closer investigation of individual stages of this development, which to a not inconsiderable extent coincide with the so-called “history of scandals” of Thomas Bernhard – from the first legal actions in Salzburg to the ‘highlights’ such as the Staatspreisscandal, the confiscation of the novel Holzfällen and finally the months of controversy prior to the premiere of Heldenplatz in November 1988 at the Vienna Burgtheater. The question treated is above all an aspect that has not yet been studied in sufficient detail in the research, namely the extent to which Bernhard influenced/steered/staged his public and media perception and whether or how he himself helped produce the image of the brilliant loner, the victim of the ignorance/indolence/arbitrary decisions of (especially) the Austrian state. The role played by his German publisher Siegfried Unseld and the director of his premieres Claus Peymann will also be examined more closely.

Respondent: Antje Arnold (Cologne)

Audio recordings

Martin Huber (Wien/Köln): Wie wird man ein
"Nestbeschmutzer"? – Zur Entwicklung des
öffentlichen Bildes von Thomas Bernhard