Views & Reviews Between the Lines

Full of bile

BMJ 2011; 342 doi: http://dx.doi.org/10.1136/bmj.d845 (Published 09 February 2011) Cite this as: BMJ 2011;342:d845
  1. Theodore Dalrymple, writer and retired doctor

No writer can have expended more bile on his homeland than Thomas Bernhard (1931-89). Not only were his books and plays extremely insulting to his country, Austria, but in his will he directed that none of his books should be published there (“whatever form the state takes”) and none of his plays should be produced on its stages. Of course, such obsessive rancour is not always easy to distinguish from love, albeit disappointed love.

Bernhard was infuriated by the distinction between the great natural beauty of Austria and of its human monuments and cultural achievements, on the one hand, and its moral obtuseness and will to amnesia after the war, on the other.

But there was another possible source …

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