Three-Part Inventions: The Novels of Thomas Bernhard

by Thomas J. Cousineau

Hardback • 2008 • $74.00
ISBN: 978-1611490855

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The epigraph to Correction, Austrian writer Thomas Bernhard’s masterpiece, reads: “A body needs at least three points of support, not in a straight line, to fix its position.” Three-Part Inventions finds in this simple geometrical axiom a surprisingly complex key to an understanding of Bernhard’s major novels. It argues that each of them, although firmly anchored in Austrian history, emerges from an archetypal story involving a trio of figures: a protagonist who, having been deprived of a desired object by a more powerful adversary, displaces his frustration upon a scapegoat who suffers in his place. It further shows that Bernhard transforms this destructive protagonist-adversary-scapegoat pattern into a creative trio formed by the author himself, the artistic precursors who serve as his models, and the readers who receive the finished work. This study is intended to enrich for English-language readers the unforgettable experience of reading the author whom Italo Calvino once called “the greatest writer in the world.”

About the Author
Thomas J. Cousineau is Professor of English at Washington College.