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The playwright and novelist Thomas Bernhard was one of the most widely translated and admired writers of his generation, winner of the three most coveted literary prizes in Germany. Gargoyles, one of his earliest novels, is a singular, surreal study of the nature of humanity.
One morning a doctor and his son set out on daily rounds through the grim mountainous Austrian countryside. They observe the colorful characters they encounter—from an innkeeper whose wife has been murdered to a crippled musical prodigy kept in a cage—coping with physical misery, madness, and the brutality of the austere landscape. The parade of human grotesques culminates in a hundred-page monologue by an eccentric, paranoid prince, a relentlessly flowing cascade of words that is classic Bernhard.
“Here is a novelist with uncommon talents of a sort possessed by Kafka, Musil, and Beckett.”
“Extraordinary . . . a virtuoso verbal performance.”
“The feeling grows that Thomas Bernhard is the most original, concentrated novelist writing in German. His connections...with the great constellation of Kafka, Musil, and Broch become ever clearer.”
—George Steiner, The Times Literary Supplement