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For five years, Konrad has imprisoned himself and his crippled wife in an abandoned lime works where he’s conducted odd auditory experiments and prepared to write his masterwork, The Sense of Hearing. As the story begins, he’s just blown the head off his wife with the Mannlicher carbine she kept strapped to her wheelchair. The murder and the bizarre life that led to it are the subject of a mass of hearsay related by an unnamed life-insurance salesman in a narrative as mazy, byzantine, and mysterious as the lime works—Konrad’s sanctuary and tomb.
“A superior book . . . deeply thought and felt. . . . Bernhard is a writer of great originality and fascination.” —The New York Review of Books
“Bernhard’s prose is hypnotic, unstoppable, as rapid as thought itself. He makes you think, as all great writers do, that at any moment he can say anything.” —The Washington Post Book World
“A masterfully dense set of esthetic, social and political metaphors about contemporary life, about art, about obsessive commitment to anything. . . . The book is a jungle of meaning, the opposite of simplistic allegory, and a major achievement.” —The New Republic
“A novel that forces you to think, that compels you to measure your life and rituals against those of its strange, though frequently all-too-human, protagonist.” —National Review