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Thomas Bernhard was one of the most original writers of the twentieth century. His formal innovation ranks with Beckett and Kafka, his outrageously cantankerous voice recalls Dostoevsky, but his gift for lacerating, lyrical, provocative prose is incomparably his own.
One of Bernhard's most acclaimed novels, The Loser centers on a fictional relationship between piano virtuoso Glenn Gould and two of his fellow students who feel compelled to renounce their musical ambitions in the face of Gould's incomparable genius. One commits suicide, while the other—the obsessive, witty, and self-mocking narrator—has retreated into obscurity. Written as a monologue in one remarkable unbroken paragraph, The Loser is a brilliant meditation on success, failure, genius, and fame.
“A complex and unsettling novel . . . about genius and obsession . . . mirroring the thought process of a compulsive mind.”
—The New York Times Book Review
“Bernhard writes like a sacred monster. . . . He is a remarkable literary performer: a man who goes to extremes in ways that vivify our sense of human possibilities, however destructive.”
— The Wall Street Journal
“Bernhard is one of the masters of contemporary European fiction . . . After Kafka’s and Canetti’s, his sensibility is one of the most acute, the most capable of exemplary images and gestures, in modern literature.”
— George Steiner