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1001 Books Round-Up April 2023

This month’s winners and losers….

Wittgenstein’s Nephew by Thomas Bernhard BOTM#1 Synopsis from Goodreads: It is 1967. In separate wings of a Viennese hospital, two men lie bedridden. The narrator, Thomas Bernhard, is stricken with a lung ailment; his friend Paul, nephew of the celebrated philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein, is suffering from one of his periodic bouts of madness. As their once-casual friendship quickens, these two eccentric men begin to discover in each other a possible antidote to their feelings of hopelessness & mortality—a spiritual symmetry forged by their shared passion for music, strange sense of humor, disgust for bourgeois Vienna & fear in the face of death. Part memoir, part fiction, Wittgenstein’s Nephew is both a meditation on the artist’s struggle to maintain a solid foothold in a world gone incomprehensibly askew & an eulogy to a real-life friendship.  Indeed it is.

My Thoughts: Steam of consciousness writing covering the author’s experiences in and out of hospital for a chest complaint and his friendship with Wittgenstein’s nephew a friendship that lasts for years while the author observes that for much of the friendship Paul Wittgenstein has been slowly dying an event the author will ultimately miss.

The book is written as one continuous paragraph (not easy on the eyes) and covers various ramblings of an old man. It includes cynical observations of the medical profession and how doctors will do anything to protect their reputations; the dangers of hospitals and the likeliness of death therein; how sanity and madness are so very close together and that while he and Paul are equally mad it is Paul’s behaviour that sees him sectioned for it while the author is treated as “normal”. The book also includes debates about the arts and the lack of appreciation thereof, it also covers his winning of the Grillparzer prize, a prize he only values for its monetary value, a prize he feels is given by those with no appreciation of his writing.

Overall an interesting insight into the mind of a writer but its inclusion on the 1001 list bothers me, it is not in the true sense a novel so what does it add to the development of the novel?

3 Stars – A quick read (took me a couple of hours) and once you get over the fact there is nowhere for your eyes to rest it is an interesting critique of Vienna (particularly medical institutions)  starting in 1967.

Correction by Thomas Bernhard BOTM#2 Synopsis from Goodreads: Roithamer, a character based on Wittgenstein, has committed suicide having been driven to madness by his own frightening powers of pure thought. We witness the gradual breakdown of a genius ceaselessly compelled to correct and refine his perceptions until the only logical conclusion is the negation of his own soul. Really is that what I just read?

My Thoughts: Ugh another book which is just a couple of long paragraphs with no natural rest points for the eyes, and yes this was another stream of consciousness rambling. I am not the right sort of reader for this book I picked it up my eyes got heavy 20 minutes later a loud snore (mine) would jerk me into wakefulness I would start to read, my eyes would get heavy….

All I have really taken away from this is that it is a really bad idea to build a house shaped like a cone in the exact middle of a forest.

3 Stars – it wasn’t awful it just wasn’t me. If you need help falling to sleep I highly recommend this one.

Parades End by Ford Madox Ford – 1st Quarterly Read. What GR says: In creating his acclaimed masterpiece Parade’s End, Ford Madox Ford wanted the Novelist in fact to appear in his really proud position as historian of his own time . . . The ‘subject’ was the world as it culminated in the war. Published in four parts between 1924 and 1928, his extraordinary novel centers on Christopher Tietjens, an officer and gentleman- the last English Tory-and follows him from the secure, orderly world of Edwardian England into the chaotic madness of the First World War. Against the backdrop of a world at war, Ford recounts the complex sexual warfare between Tietjens and his faithless wife Sylvia. This is as messy as it sounds.

My thoughts – This is a long book and most the time I was wanting to smack peoples heads together and tell them to talk to each other and work it out.

Tietjens should have divorced Sylvia and the book could have been half the length.

The subtle critique of the war and decisions made by the war office in Whitehall was kinda lost in the babble of revenge, love affairs, rumour and stubbornness.

The take away point for me was that the world moves on, nothing stays the same and we can’t hold onto to a specific way of life because it becomes outdated.

3 Stars – This is one you need to clear your diary for because if you have anything more exciting on the horizon you can easily lose your way.

Have you read any of these? Let us know your thoughts.

2 Comments Post a comment
  1. I shall avoid both books with vigour!

    Liked by 1 person

    May 1, 2023

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