by at 7:00 p.m.I asked him right away
if he was running away from Janko Musulin, because he wrote that he was going
to be visiting him on May 1.But Thomas
didn’t want to meet up with him.When
somebody pays you a visit as early as 10:30 in the morning and you’re in the
middle of polishing your shoes, you can’t run away anymore, said Thomas.I didn’t think that Musulin would be coming
so early; I wanted to get away right away.Naturally I later gave him my opinion about Zuckmayer’s book, because
Musulin didn’t believe that I was actually ill.Lernet-Holenia will now write the review of the Henndorfer Pastorale.I told
Musulin that I couldn’t write the review because he insults my grandparents
when he writes that he sweetened my lugubrious childhood with chocolate. I by no means had a lugubrious childhood; to
the contrary, I was downright spoiled by my grandparents and so I grew up like
any other boy there.Everything else
that didn’t sit right with me and wasn’t accurate, which of course I have
already told you about, I also told Musulin about.
said that he had taken down his red curtains because those colors were
detrimental to his well-being in each room.One should have completely monotone, inconspicuous curtains in one’s
rooms, said Thomas. Yours are also
really irritating; those patterns are noxious.I said: they’re not noxious; on top of that we’ve actually grown quite
accustomed to them.What you just said
is wrong, said Thomas.A person can also
get used to a narcotic drug, and yet it’ll still be noxious; the fact that he’s
accustomed to it is absolutely irrelevant.These curtains cost several thousand schillings; I can’t change them
now.But when I do need new curtains,
I’ll take your advice and buy calm curtains with no patterns, I said. So from now on shopping for curtains won’t be
so difficult, because the simplest are the best.Then Thomas said he’d read through the note
from Mrs. Schmied again and that he’d now found out that her sister had come to
visit her and the six men in her bed were probably guests of her sister Ilse,
because she had often stayed with guests in the Schmieds’ house in the Lederau,
started talking about Peymann again, and among other things he said that
Peymann had laughed very scornfully when Kaut said to him that it would be a
real feather in Peymann’s cap if he became director of the Salzburg
Festival.Karajan’s been aching for that
position for 15 years.Whereupon Peymann
said, Ha, ha, ha.You know, Kaut isn’t
used to being around a person like that, a person who treats him like that.
agreed that I’d try to be at Thomas’s house in Nathal when the head of the
mining society came at about 10:00 a.m.Thomas stayed till 10:30 p.m.
May 2, 1972
At 8:00 in
the morning I went with Thomas to the Ohlsdorf post office.He said that at the town hall he’d said that
he’d be at home at 9:00.That now he
unconditionally had to go to Gmunden.I
told Thomas that I’d come to his house at that time.That I’d have taken care of my bits of business
in Gmunden by about 9:00.
Then I was
at Thomas’s house in Nathal at 9:15 a.m.He said that he was already having some inferior trees chopped down in
his newly purchased woods and that he was going to set up enough pasture fence
to enclose about an acre at the Krucka.His
female neighbor is allowed to have two heads of cattle there and in exchange
must help him look after a head of young cattle.There’s enough feed and room in the stall
there for three head of cattle.Then, he
says, the Krucka will also be exploited and he won’t have to do any work there.
after 10:00 the head of the mining society still hadn’t arrived and I had a
fair amount of work to do around the house, I drove back home after an
hour.Thomas asked me to come to him
immediately if I saw a car from Salzburg that the head of the mining society
might be in.I agreed to do so.
let me read a letter from the minister of education that he had just
received.The letter was two pages long,
dated 4/28, and Sinowatz wrote that he had successfully made some
inquiries.That the drilling site is 380
meters from the house, and that negotiations about the drilling site would be
taking place first.That Thomas would
have an opportunity to make his objections.That the extent to which these objections could be sustained would be carefully
considered, and that no matter what he’d able to avail himself of all the
appeals courts.That he, Sinowatz, had
sent a copy to Staribacher, the foreign minister, and the head of the mining
society in Salzburg.That no matter what
he wasn’t going to be rolled over by an automatic mechanism.I made a mental note of this last sentence
right away; the rest I voided from my memory.At the conclusion Sinowatz wrote that in the event of further
difficulties he should turn to him again immediately.He signed under “Warm regards.”
As I was
handing the letter back to Thomas, I drew his attention to a spelling error on
the second page.Rohöhlgewinnung A. G. [crude
oil company, inc.] appears there.Because Roh is spelled with an
h, it’s easy to be misled into
spelling Öl with an h as well.I write; if I honed my skills, I’d probably
also make this error.I’d even be
inclined to say that I’m constantly writing it with an h, because that’s actually constantly been happening in my uncorrected
notes.Thomas said, that’s a mistake,
when I drew his attention to this error in the minister of education’s letter.Naturally, I said; every mistake is an
error.Then we also discussed that happy
turn of phrase “not be rolled over by an automatic mechanism.” He obviously
can’t write that you’ll be rolled over by the law, but one could also say the law instead of automatic mechanism.
p.m. Thomas came to my house and said that he had just had lunch at
Pabst’s.There’s nobody but blacks
there.The landlady’s sister and her
mother are now also working at the guesthouse and are also as black as the
young landlady whom Pabst has brought back with him from Hawaii.But it occurs to him that there are fewer
guests there now.The slip of paper from
Mitterbauer doesn’t come during lunch either anymore.
news about the head of the mining society, I asked.Right after you left, said Thomas, Mrs.
Maxwald came and informed me that the town government had called, that the head
of the mining society had told Ohlsdorf town hall by phone that he would be
coming this coming Thursday at two in the afternoon.So I’d like to ask you to make sure you’re
there too.I told Thomas that I would
be, and at 3:15 Thomas left me again.
At 7:00 Thomas
came back.He told me that he had
written a letter to Kaut.Quite short
and matter-of-fact.Then Thomas recited
its text to me, and as he did so he gave special emphasis to the period of each
sentence.For example: “Have obtained
the house for Peymann, which is maintained by a single woman, a full six weeks
ago in Pfaffstätt, 35 km from Salzburg, period.I’d like to take this opportunity to say that for me Peymann, Ganz,
Hermann, Bickel, et al., all of them listed by name, constitute the optimal
team, period.Please reserve me three tickets
for the premiere, period.I will show up
a few times during the rehearsal; otherwise I don’t intend to let myself be
seen, period.”In the closing, said
Thomas, I haven’t written “very warmly,” but rather “with friendly regards,” so
that it’ll come across as a bit cooler.
went on to talk about his comedy More Luck
than Brains; he said that that was a very good title that would someday be
as familiar as What You Will.Then Thomas told me that he had also received
a letter from Unseld and that the new edition of Frost had been sent off in the same mailing.I’ll be receiving that book tomorrow.It looks very nice in blue, said Thomas.
discussed my work scheduled for tomorrow morning, so that Thomas knew that I
wouldn’t have any time for him tomorrow and that in the evening I’ll be going
to my gym class.At 10:15 p.m. Thomas
May 3, 1972
a.m. I ran into Thomas in my patch of woods next to the street.He had waylaid the postman and was furious
that they’d sent him another book instead of Frost, namely a book by Bert Brecht from Suhrkamp
Publications.I told him: Of course
you’re constantly heaping abuse on people and on your publishing firm, saying
that they’re stupid and do everything the wrong way.Now you’ve just proved yourself right once
again.Thomas nodded, waved the book in
the air, and silently concurred with me.
We kept talking
for a little while longer.Thomas told
me that the Hufnagls had gotten married again a few weeks ago and were now on
their honeymoon in Italy.When they came
here last Thursday they had gotten married again the day before, Wednesday,
without telling anybody.Of course you
know, said Thomas, that they only agreed to get divorced way back when because
she thought I was going to marry her.I
don’t know how in the world she ever could have thought something like
that.But I didn’t learn about it
directly from her but rather from Mrs. Pauser.
So we’ll see
each other at 2:00 tomorrow afternoon at the latest.I’ll come to your house then, on account of
the mounty-head [i.e., the Berghauptmann,
the abovementioned head of the mining society (DR)], I said to Thomas as we
were going our separate ways.(Around
here the natives say mounty [Beri] instead
of mountain [Berg], as in a mounty
meadow, etc., and so Thomas and I like to use these dialectal expressions in a
broader context, which the natives wouldn’t do.)
May 4, 1972
At 2:00 p.m.
I was at Thomas’s house.It wasn’t until
3:00 that a few people associated with Prezelj’s, the head of the mining
society’s, inspection, which was scheduled for 2:00, came into view.Until then we were in the courtyard in the
sun, and Thomas said to me that he hadn’t ever received an invitation to the
ceremony for the awarding of the Wildgans prize to Ingeborg Bachmann.Of course last time they had canceled the
ceremony for Thomas completely and had just sent the prize money.And now they’re not inviting me to the ceremony
for the next prizewinner either.
Thomas is planning to leave for Vienna immediately after meeting with the
commission, after 3:00, when we saw the commission in the distance, he said
that he’d really like to take off.Because when somebody says they’re coming at 2:00, it’s enough to wait
for an hour.Then Thomas asked me to
drive up to the commission; he said that he couldn’t do that, I had to see what
was going on.As I was driving by them I
could tell just from their gestures that Secretary Möser and the head of the
mining society had won over Baldinger, and I also concluded this because I had
previously said hello to the crude-oil gentlemen, who were holding themselves
aloof, and exchanged a few words with them.
After that I
drove to Thomas’s house and told him that it would be better if I weren’t
present when they came into his house.Because if I were then he could put them blame on me if there were any
allegations against the steps he had taken.I got the feeling that it wasn’t going to be possible to stop the
drilling, because I’d heard that they were only going to drill for ten
days.Then Thomas himself had no problem
with the drilling, because everything will be over after ten days and nights.Immediately after that Thomas left for
Vienna, because Thomas’s aunt had made him an appointment to have a checkup at
the Baumgartner Höhe Clinic tomorrow, Friday.This coming Sunday or Monday Thomas will return with his aunt.Thomas also asked me if during his absence
I’d randomly check in on the decortication of the felled trees in the woods and
if I’d take care of the courtyard as well.Perhaps he’s worried that students could do him some mischief.He wants to make sure that no matter what I
keep an eye on the courtyard and drive over a few times.
I had drawn
off four liters of cider as we were waiting for the commission.It’s already running very thin out of the
barrel, and when he’s back from Vienna he’ll tap a new one.
May 10, 1972
came back from Vienna with his aunt.He
came over towards 4:00 in the afternoon.My spouse told him that at 9:00 in the morning I’d met with Moidele
Bickel and Herrmann from Berlin in order to inspect the accommodations for
during the festival.That nevertheless I
still hadn’t gotten back yet.Whereupon
Thomas said he’d come again later.But
because I got back from Salzburg only a half an hour later, I drove to Thomas’s
house at Nathal right away.The gate was
open and the car was there, but nobody was home.So Thomas must have gone for a walk with his
aunt.I walked around the house and ran
into Thomas his aunt at the fire station.Thomas asked me to join them for one or two hours.
First I had
to tell him how things had gone in Salzburg.Mrs. Bickel and Hermann were crazy about the accommodations.They had already known about his letter to
Peymann.Thomas was glad that I had also
shown them Mattighofen, so that they’d also know right away where the nearest
market to the house was.Because if you
come from Salzburg, you have no idea that there’s such a fine market town three
kilometers away.Then I had to brief him
on the work with the timber that had since taken place.Ferdl didn’t show up for work, but his
neighbor Ennsberger had brought along a work colleague who worked so diligently
that even in the well-shaded woods, in the cool wind, sweat was dripping from
his forehead.I could even report to
Thomas on the exact working hours, because I’d stopped by for a look several times.Then I said to Thomas that I hadn’t spoken
with Bickel Hermann at all about the theater or their own work in the theater,
or about his play either, because I noticed right away that both of them had
had enough of their own trade and preferred to relax.I told Thomas that I had only told him that
he had written a letter to Kaut and in that letter had described all the
collaborators by name as the optimal team.But otherwise they won’t see Bernhard much in Salzburg.The author will only stop by twice for a
look; he’ll view the general rehearsal and won’t be attending the premiere.
So after an
hour we had already reached Aichlham; it was Thomas’s turn to do some reporting.I had long since noticed that Thomas was
waiting to report on how his checkup had turned out.But because I wanted to learn exactly what
the results were, I didn’t ask him about them, because in the event that
everything wasn’t in order, he might answer that question curtly and vaguely.On the other hand, if Thomas reports on it
himself, of his own volition, he’ll talk about it quite precisely. For the sake of not actually beginning with
his checkup at the clinic in Vienna, Thomas told me that he had received a
letter in which the German Academy for Language and Literature had informed him
that he had been inducted as a corresponding member.The new president, Böll, proposed him back at
the time of the Büchner Prize, and now he’s probably made this happen.
afterwards Thomas started talking about his checkup and said that he had been examined
more thoroughly than ever before and that not a trace of a growth at the site
of his old operation had been found.The
doctors themselves were very interested in the follow-up checkup because they
had succeeded in getting rid of this rare “Böck,” a benign tumor for which there’s
no method of completely curing in the professional literature.The only important thing for me was to be
sure that a very painstaking checkup that certified that he was in good health
had taken place.The doctors said that
he was completely healthy, that he couldn’t be healthier. At the time of the operation things really
reached a crisis point, because even a specialist hadn’t recognized the
“Böck.”I can still hear Thomas’s dry
cough to this day.He didn’t have it
when he left for the checkup.So the
cough he had could only have been the symptom of an early stage of a “bock”;
accordingly I found a painstaking checkup a great source of relief.But then we got right back round to talking
about his appointment as a corresponding member of the German Academy for
Language and Literature, and Thomas declared that he wouldn’t reply to this
letter for a very long time, because he had to consider carefully whether or
not to accept this appointment.It could
be that this membership came with expensive membership dues, in which case
accepting it would be completely out of the question for him.I regarded this as unthinkable, and said that
if anything an honorarium would be paid to the members.Here Aunt Hede also intervened in the
conversation quite a bit, because according to her lights it was impossible for
Thomas to plan to put off replying to this letter any longer.I stuck by Thomas and said that he was right.He can even answer a few months from
now.Thomas doesn’t want to spoil
anything for himself by declining, but he also doesn’t want to incur any
obligations by accepting.Thomas’s aunt
insisted on his coming to a quick decision and accepting the membership.
point Thomas slackened his pace so that Aunt Hede could walk ahead of us by
herself.By then it was 6:30 p.m., and
the evening coolness forced Aunt Hede to walk quickly, because she was pretty
sensitive to cold.Thomas took advantage
of this, and once Aunt Hede was out of earshot, Thomas told me that the basic
outline of his new novel Correction had
come to him in Vienna.The novel’s plot
will take place over the course of just three days.An Austrian man returns from living abroad
with the intention of staying in Austria and never leaving this country again,
because he has such fond memories of his homeland.But after three days he realizes that so much
has changed, that everything is so execrable, that it’s impossible to put up
with living in Austria, and so he leaves Austria with the intention of never
returning to it.You know, said Thomas,
in these three days I can find a place for everything I want, everything.I won’t shrink from mentioning people like
the mayor of Vienna, Slavik, by name.Also all the rest, like the minister of education, I’ll mention all of
them by name.But everything that
happens in it will make all my earlier things pale by comparison. I’ll describe
the whole horrifying state of affairs that we’ve got here, this whole
perversity, and the title Correction will
be apt for two reasons.Because on the
one hand my main character will correct his view of Austria in three days and I
myself will vigorously correct my earlier assertions.They’ll see what’s coming from me there and
also be surprised by it.
caught back up with his aunt.Thomas
stayed behind at his neighbor Ennsberger’s house in order to discuss additional
work in the woods, and from there I went to his farmhouse with just Aunt Hede.Mrs. Stavianicek didn’t have a key to the
front door, and she was shivering a lot.She said: Thomas has obviously got to come right away, because he
obviously knows that I’ve got no key and that I’m very cold.But you know how Thomas is, I said, Thomas
“hasn’t got” to do anything at all.Take
a seat in my car, and we’ll get the key from Thomas.
towards Thomas, and when we were halfway to Ennsberger’s, we crossed paths with
him. He gave us the key, and once Aunt Hede was in the kitchen she started
making semolina porridge, because on account of her stomach trouble she’s not
allowed to eat anything else.Thomas
said that she should make a double portion, that he was also very happy to eat
semolina porridge, by which he meant semolina pudding.
By then it
was 7:25.And so I said my goodbyes very
quickly, so that I could still watch the news at home.I also told Thomas that my daughter Elfriede
would be getting married on the 12th and that I would be in St.
Nikolai im Sausal from the 13th to the 16th, so that we
wouldn’t be seeing each other for a while.
May 17, 1972
in the afternoon Dr. Wieland Schmied came to see me with Wolf Jobst Siedler of
76 Lindenstrasse, Berlin, the president of Ullstein Publications (at the Propylaea).Schmied was looking for his wife and for
Thomas.Neither was at home.He was hoping to run into his wife at
Thomas’s.Because Siedler has to drive
back to Munich, he won’t have a car, and if Thomas isn’t there, I’m supposed to
take him to Lederau towards evening.The
later the better, he says, because by then his wife is sure to be at home.
Siederl was interested in purchasing a farmhouse, we inspect a few objects with
him until evening.Because by seven
Thomas still wasn’t home, I took Dr. Wieland Schmied to Lederau, where we find
his wife with her mother.Schmied left a
message on Thomas’s gate before we left.
May 18, 1972
At eight in
the morning I ran into Thomas in front of the Ohlsdorf post office.He told me that he was just about to come see
me to ask me about Schmied.Schmied had
written his message on the gate on the back of my business card, and so Thomas
knew that I had been at his house with Schmied.I told Thomas that I had shown Siedler the inside of his courtyard, and
that to do this I had used the stowed key.I know Siedler already, said Thomas.Wolf Jobst Siedler’s his complete name.Naturally I couldn’t show him the residential part other than the old farmer’s nook, because Thomas
himself never lets anybody into it.But
three sides of the four-sided house aren’t taboo.
showed me a book that he had just received in the mail, a book entitled Somebody Who Writes.Thomas proudly showed me the second page, where
underneath a quotation from Goethe there’s a quotation from him:
I am not a writer, but rather somebody who writes
designation of “writer” has always disgusted Thomas.“Author” he can just barely stomach.Before he had “farmer” stamped on his
passport, I advised him to call himself an “odd-jobber.” In the light of his
history of doing odd jobs he’d be entitled to do that.
told me that he had been in Vienna and hadn’t got back till after
midnight.That at one in the morning he
had seen that my car was still parked at Asamer’s tavern.That was another tarot game that went on into
the small hours, said Thomas.
Thomas to drive to Schmied’s right away, before noon.Then he’ll surely find Schmied, who’s a late
sleeper; otherwise they’ll miss each other again.You see, Thomas was planning to drive to the
Krucka, because the pasture fence was finished and he had to take a look at
it.Yes, you’re right, said Thomas, I’ll
drive over to Schmied’s right away; then I’ll have gotten it out of the
way.He drove to Schmied’s.
Obernathal 2 in 1968: an estate and the vehicle of
its owner: Thomas Bernhard, farmer.
May 19, 1972
At nine in
the morning Thomas came to see me in order to wait for the postman with
me. But I told Thomas that I had already
picked up my mail at the post office and that therefore the postman wouldn’t be
coming into the house. When he sees my
car he’ll surely come in, said Thomas.
Then he told
me that last Friday and Saturday he had been visited by actors from Berlin who
would be performing his play The
Ignoramus and the Madman as soon as September 1 in Berlin. On Friday evening he played “blackjack” with
them at Pabst’s tavern in Laakirchen and relieved the theater people of almost
all their money until it was three in the morning. Then at three o’clock they no
accommodations. Then a master painter
took them with him to Eisengattern where they could sleep in no-frills
makeshift beds. But they’d left their
baggage at Thomas’s house in Nathal, and so they had to ride along without
their things. But at 3:00 a.m. Thomas
naturally wasn’t prepared to take them home with him or to fetch their baggage,
because then he’d never get rid of them.
As a matter of principle he doesn’t let people stay overnight at his
house. So far, apart from his Aunt
Stavianicek nobody has ever spent the night at his house. Thomas said that these big winnings were very
awkward for him, because now he was going to be forced to pay for these
people’s accommodations. That he had
booked them rooms for the next day at the Hotel Schwan in Gmunden. But it’s over now; I’d rather not see anybody
else this year. The actors’ entire visit
led to nothing. Such visits are
completely superfluous. Why do actors
need to meet the author?
was 10a.m., and I showed Thomas a postcard from his Aunt Stavianicek
in my mail. The card came from
Wolfsegg. Because the postman must have
left some time before, Thomas drove after him in his Rayon. At 10p.m.
Wieland Schmied came with his
spouse. Thomas is nowhere to be found,
he said. They’d been supposed to meet at
Pabst’s at 7p.m., but Thomas hadn’t shown up.
He wasn’t at home either. So
then, he said, I thought I’d stop by your house. At 11p.m. I’m leaving
Attnang for Venice to
see Hundertwasser; my wife is driving me to the train station. But it’s
still too early. At 10:30p.m. the Schmieds set out for Attnang
and left behind their regards for Thomas.
occurred to me that Thomas told me that today he was expecting a visit from
Schaffler from Salzburg in the evening and that he had to “wash” the latter’s
“hair.” Dr. Schmied had also learned
about this from Thomas, but he said: But Schaffler was supposed to come by
midday; he made a date with us for the evening.
May 22, 1972
the film director Ferry Radax came. He wanted
to pay Thomas Bernhard a short visit on his way from Germany to his farmhouse
at No. 35 Schönbach in the Waldviertel. As
Thomas Bernhard wasn’t at home, he came to me to see if I knew where Thomas
Bernhard was. Radax told me that he’d
prefer to shoot the footage for Frost
in the Waldviertel near Schönbach, because the original location had since become
so heavily built up that the area in the Waldviertel was better suited to the
novel. As were the houses, background
actors, etc. Only a few shots will have
to be filmed in the area around Weng. We also talked about the fact that the
area around Rappottenstein and Ritterkamp would be perfect for a film
adaptation of Verstörung [Gargoyles]. Because I know that area well, I agree with
Radax. After about three-quarters of an
hour, at 12:30p.m., Thomas Bernhard suddenly walked in through the front door. Thomas had no idea that Radax was with me; he
just wanted to tell me that he’d be coming to see me in the evening. He said hello to Radax and told him that he
didn’t have a minute to spare now because his aunt was expecting him for lunch
at Wolfsegg. That he was going to be
accompanied by Mrs. Schmied, her daughter, and her mother. That they were with the child at the Kirtag
(the fair) in Ohlsdorf. Mrs. Schmied had
fallen onto the gravel and had bleeding abrasions on her knees and hands, and
because of this he was already running late for the date at Wolfsegg, Thomas
said. He asked Radax to catch up with
him at the Brandlhof in Wolfsegg later on.
Radax left for Wolfsegg. Before that he
told me how the Grimme Prize award ceremony had gone and that he had heard from
television that Thomas Bernhard had become a corresponding member of the German
Academy for Language and Literature in Darmstadt. I was surprised because Thomas hadn’t told me
that he had accepted the offer.
Thomas walked in while saying, “Thank God I’ve got this day behind me.”
I told Thomas right away that I had heard
from Radax that he had become a corresponding member. I said that if
that was true he was one of
those people like Hilde Spiel who accept every “postlet.” I can’t
believe that that’s true. You’ll laugh, said Thomas; I accepted, and
Hilde Spiel and Canetti are also corresponding members. Why do you need
this, what’s it good for? I
asked. I can’t waste my chances with the
new president, said Thomas, and that’s why I wrote back right away that I
accepting. Right after that came the
public announcement. As I keep making my
way in the world I’ll need that. In
order to make your way in the world you’ve got to be able to walk on
including even the corpse of a corresponding member. You’ve simply got
to be able to do that, to
climb over such corpses. Canetti and
Spiel are obviously corpses; they’re all corpses, but in this case I’m
prepared to climb over my own corpse.
I’ve got to do that, because as I said, I’d rather not spoil my chances
with the new president. Because eventually
you’ve just got to do something you really don’t want to do, but I won’t
taking on any obligations at all by doing this.
Besides, said Thomas, I’ve already turned down completely different
things that you’d never have any idea of why I turned them down.
for this explanation and told Thomas that the Schmieds had been here on
and asked him if he had washed Schaffler’s hair on Friday. Yes, said
Thomas, on Friday I was at Pabst’s
in Laakirchen at 7p.m. I left a note
that I was there on the gate. The
Schmieds didn’t come; Schaffler found the note and came to Pabst’s at
9p.m. But anyway, as for what you may
have imagined by my washing his hair, I’m not going to do that, because
if I do
I may need to find another tax adviser and make Schaffler into an
enemy. Dr. Schmied and Schaffler have already fallen
out with each other. That’s why Schmied
didn’t come to Pabst’s, because he didn’t want to run into Schaffler.
Aha, I said, he told me that he was having
his book about Arik Brauer published in Vienna by another publisher.
That’s why Schaffler is angry at him. Yes, of course, Schaffler didn’t
pay him what
he wanted for the book, and so Schmied had the book published in Vienna
another publisher. No, no, I didn’t wash
Schaffler’s hair, but I did tell him that that stuff about me in that
Zuckmayer, Henndorfer Pastorale would
simply have to be taken out. Schaffler
said that that would be just fine, that he would publish a second edition right
away, that he’d write to Zuckmayer immediately to tell him that that stuff would
have to be taken out, that I demanded that.
Or at least my “sad” or “unhappy” boyhood will have to be described as
“happy” instead. Because I did have a
happy boyhood. On top of that I’ve drawn
Schaffler’s attention to the typos in the book.
Stelzhamer with two ems and so forth; there’s really no excuse for stuff
Then I said:
You know, you really should have been invited to the snack reception in
Henndorf; it’s naturally obvious that you wouldn’t have gone, but you should
have gotten yourself invited.
Zuckmayer’s daughter would have blocked that, said Thomas; of course you
know what I told you about the dog-whip way back when. Someday that will make a fine biography of
you, I said. Then it will also be
written that when you played “blackjack” with your visitors you took all their
money away from them. Nobody will
believe that anyway, said Thomas, even if it’s in writing, because all
biographies get the facts wrong and aren’t true. On top of that, I couldn’t care less, because
by then I won’t know anything about it.
on to tell me that he had lunch at the Brandlhof in Wolfsegg and that Radax had
still come there to have lunch with him.
On that Whitsunday he was sitting across and one table over from
Governor Wenzl who was there with his wife and daughters and whom he was very
angry at because this man hadn’t written a single line in reply to his letter
about the oil-drilling. Because Radax
was sitting across from Thomas, the whole time Thomas was speaking with Radax,
he saw the governor’s face in the background at the other table. Thomas said that he’d told Radax pretty
explicitly what mistakes had been made in the film version of The Italian, and because he also kept
seeing the governor’s face, Radax had to suffer for that, because it spurred
him on to criticize Radax even more harshly.
Among other things Thomas asked Radax to see to it that the contract for
the film adaptation was signed by the ORF as soon as possible, because now that
he’d come to think about it differently it seemed that Radax had written his
screenplay for nothing. He made it clear
to Radax that nobody could write a screenplay based on his novel Frost in the absence of contractual
protection and authorization. Moreover,
he said, when Radax had asked him how he’d like the screenplay, he’d answered
that he’d only read a small part of it and was satisfied that the rest was
exactly the same. Besides, he’d
continued, a screenplay on its own is still nothing; you can never say whether
it’s good or bad because you can make a good film out of a bad screenplay and a
bad film out of a good one. But, he’d
added, if the film is supposed to be shot this coming winter, it’s more than
high time to start worrying about casting and begin our preparations. Governor Wenzl looked intently over at Thomas
several times, and Thomas got the impression that his daughter had told him who
he was very early on. As Governor Wenzl
was on his way out of the restaurant, he begged Thomas for a greeting, as
Thomas put it in his novella. But as the
governor was passing by Thomas, Thomas pointedly gazed at his plate and acted
as if he didn’t notice. Right after the
governor had left the restaurant, the owner came up and said: Didn’t you
recognize him? That was the
governor. Of course I recognized him,
said Thomas. When the owner then spent a
good bit of time talking with the governor in front of the building, Thomas said
that he was probably being told about that as well. But he really could have written a line or
two in reply to my letter. After all,
that’s the least he, Wenzl, has got to do if some old lady with a pension
writes to him. And this whole business
with the ORF is totally unacceptable as well, Thomas added. I’m supposed to let a screenplay based on my
novel be written in the absence of a contract or anything in the way of
payment. I tell you, they’re treating me
worse than at a whorehouse. At a whorehouse
you can’t just walk in, consume everything on offer, and walk out the back door
without paying. But I told Radax that
that would have to be taken care of as soon as possible; otherwise I’ll keep
mulling things over and won’t agree to anything else.
A “Henndorf Snack Reception” in the traditional
style. Those present at the launch party for Carl Zuckmayer’s Henndorf Pastorale included Gretrud Frank, Carl Zuckmayer,
Clemens Holzmeister, Rudolf Bayr, Ingrid Oberascher, Wolfgang Schaffler, and
Thomas if he had been at the castle.
Yes, said Thomas, for coffee. But
the count wasn’t at home. Of course the
old countess and her two daughters were there.
It was just like it always is when only ladies are present, all the
usual twittering. Radax was there
too. Then he left for Schönbach in the
Waldviertel at 6p.m. Now that I’ve had a
chance to observe him again for a few hours, I’m finding once again that I
don’t like him at all. Radax is an
unacceptable director. Of course I’ve
already told him that I’d like to take a look at his house in the
Waldviertel. But just think about it, if
he’s got to drive two-and-a-half hours from Vienna, he might as well just have
something here. On top of that, the man
doesn’t belong in a hundred forty thousand-schilling car. Why does he need a family car like that, such
a ridiculously expensive car, just for himself?
There are certain high-class people who can own three Rolls Royces
without attracting any attention. At
7:30 I left Wolfsegg in turn and came directly to you.
It was 10:30
by the time Thomas left for his house, and he said he’d visit me again tomorrow
May 23, 1972
Thomas dropped by my house unexpectedly.
He usually comes at seven, and for a moment I was really annoyed. Because although I really wanted to continue
writing my long account of his Whitsun Monday, I instinctively cleared
everything away barely five minutes earlier.
If he surprises me while I’m writing, it would be very easy for him to
walk up to the typewriter and say: Let’s see, who are you writing to? This time I had taken quite a lot of notes,
and just shortly before then they were lying strewn all over the table. This time I wouldn’t have cleared everything
away as quickly. In the winter it was
easier; back then the doors to the house were shut, and he would have to stop
in the vestibule to take off his coat or use the doormat. A few times when he was doing that I
disappeared with my papers just in the nick of time. But now that the weather’s nice, he’s
suddenly standing there in the doorway of the living room.
As he was
walking in, Thomas said that he’d finished all his essential letters and that
he had taken everything to the post office just before 6p.m. He’d like to walk with me for an
hour-and-a-half, up to the starting time of The
Age in Images. I was willing to do
that, but first I showed him my 5/17/1972 letter from Ulrich and Vera
Wildgruber of 98 Blumenfeldstrasse, Bochum 463, which I received today.
So we walked
to Traun, Aupointen, Sandhäuslberg and back.
Thomas told me he’d finally sent the corrected script of The Ignoramus and the Madman to the
publishing firm. At the same time, he
said, he had informed the firm that he didn’t want to hear or see anything else
having to do with this thing. Because
the firm is going be getting incessant inquiries about this play. He’s also frankly informed the firm that he
won’t be attending the premiere in Salzburg. He said that he’d have to shut himself off
from the rest of the world until the end of the year in order to tackle his new
prose work seriously. I wrote something
to that effect to Unseld. This coming
Friday I’ll go to Salzburg, because Unseld will be coming there. I’ll still meet him there, but then things
have got to stop; I’m determined to do some work now. But then you’ll be writing into the dog
days. I plan to do just that, said
Thomas. I also wrote Frost in my swimming trunks. I’d take a cold shower every two hours, and
so I’ll do that again now with Correction.
We get back
from this walk just in time for The Age
in Images. Today I’d like to hear
the news again, said Thomas. (On Whitsun
Monday he wasn’t in the mood to watch the news program that was just starting
on German television.) The Age in Images began with President
Jonas’s reception of Chancellor Brandt at the Hofburg in Vienna. Look,
here are two conmen on display. One of them is a typesetter.
started talking about the letter from Mrs. Wildgruber, whose husband is acting
in The Ignoramus in Salzburg. He said that the letter was written in a
totally unacceptable style. It includes
words and expressions like “encouraged” and “sorry to bother you,” and “may I
hope for a tiny postcard reply from you?”
I had to show Thomas the letter once again. He advised me to write back in the same
style. Come on, I’ll do it for you. Thomas took the letter and read out an
amusing reply in the same style. I said
to Thomas: Tomorrow I’ll write a very matter-of-fact, correct, clear letter of
reply. I’ll let you read it.
wanted to see The Conversation with
Günther Nenning and Elisabeth Mann Borghese at 9:05p.m. on Channel 2. Until then we watch That’s Your Call!
interview with André Heller, Thomas said: It’s terrible, the way he’s
and the way he’s sitting in his chair. Later, during the program with
Nenning, the latter was so bad and awkward and really unacceptable from
beginning that I expected a critical remark from Thomas at any moment.
Thomas followed the program intently. In particular Elisabeth Mann
[Katia Mann, Thomas Mann’s widow] spoke well, and it was only towards
when the interview with Mann Borgese had been airing for a while, that
stirred. I can’t keep watching Nenning;
it’s insufferable. But he’s the
president of the journalists’ union.
They want to fire him as president; they’ve been wanting another one for
the longest time. He really deserves to
be fired; I can’t watch him anymore.
Please switch it off. Perhaps
Thomas held his peace for so long because at the beginning of the
female announcer said that this was the first episode of a new series.
Thomas gave me a disconcerted look and said
he agreed with me. But perhaps he was
secretly disturbed by the realization that he himself didn’t notice that
away, and that was why he held his peace for so long, until he couldn’t
10:15 Thomas drove home. We had already
agreed during our walk that I’d pick up his mail at the post office at eight in
the morning and meet him at the Café Brandl in Gmunden at 8:30. At 7:00 tomorrow morning he’s got to take his
VW in for inspection, and since he won’t be getting his car back from the
garage until just before noon, in the interval the two of us will drive to the
Krucka, walk around a bit, and at noon I’ll take him back to the garage. I told my wife she should wake me up at 4:30
a.m. so that I could catch up on my writing.
Because if I’m going to spend another three-and-a-half hours with Thomas
tomorrow, I’d like to have the old stuff written down before then; otherwise
I’ll get everything mixed up, or I won’t remember anything at all anymore. To Thomas, who heard this, I said: I’ve got
some important letters to write. As we
were saying our goodbyes, Thomas once again reminded me of where we were
supposed to meet tomorrow.
May 24, 1972
On my way to
meet Thomas in Gmunden I stopped by the garage to check on Thomas’s car. It was still parked in front of the washing carport
and wasn’t being worked on yet. I went
straight to the boss, and he promised me that Bernhard’s car would be ready for
pickup at 11:30. When I drove up to the
Café Brandl in Gmunden, I could see from the car that Thomas was settling up
with the waitress. He saw me and
beckoned me over. The previous day we
agreed that on our way to the Krucka we’d stop by the garage to goad them
on. But when I told Thomas that I’d
already been to the garage he said: Then we don’t need to go there; we can go
straight to the Grasberg and the Krucka.
We parked the car on the bank of the Aurach River and set out on the
ten-minute walk to the house. Because it
hasn’t got a driveway, you can only get to the house on foot or by four
wheel-drive tractor. On our way there
Thomas was once again brimming over with praise for this property. Every time I come here, he said, I can’t help
thinking of you, because I owe this “gift” entirely to you. Because it really is a gift as far as I’m
concerned. Today I’d pay 500,000
schillings for it: I like it that much.
house we came across two heifers in the enclosed pasture. I saw that Thomas had had the pasture fence
built to extend so far to the west towards the woods that the spot where we
picked some fine arnica flowers last year was half fenced in. So this year we won’t be able to pick enough
arnica. Last year on there were some
really lovely flowers on the spot where cows are grazing, I said to
Thomas. Thomas barely paid attention to
what I was saying; he was so enthusiastic about the cows; he petted them and
praised the pleasant odor of cattle. And
look, they take such lovely shits, he said as one of the cows lifted her tail
and dropped a proper cowpat. We
inspected the trough and saw that higher uphill the second fence hadn’t yet
been completed because there wasn’t enough barbed wire to hand. We walked around the second enclosure, where
only the stakes had been hammered in and ascertained that he would need almost
twice as much wire as he’s already used it in order to finish it. Only the steepest part of the meadow had been
fenced in as pasture because getting the feed there takes a lot of work. The rest of the meadow is very easy to
cultivate and so getting feed there is also much easier. After we had finished inspecting the whole lot
we went into the house. In the pantry
there was a kilo of butter from the woman next door. Thomas has been buying the butter from this
82-year-old “peeping Thomasina,” because he thinks that she’ll be more likely
to sell the house to him as a result.
But regarding this house next door, No. 99, things are going to turn out
as I’ve already described earlier.
Because Thomas commissioned me to negotiate the additional purchase a
long time ago, and I’ve investigated the situation a long time ago. When he sees the butter Thomas said: I’ve
already got so much butter at home; can I give you the butter? There’s already butter here again; I picked
up some butter just a few days ago. I
don’t know how I’m supposed to stop this now.
I can’t use so much butter, even though I eat quite a lot of it every
day. The house itself was being kept
spick-and-span by the neighbor; only the stable hadn’t been cleaned out, I
At 10:00 we
climb down from the Krucka and at 10:30 at the garage we asked how things stood
with the car. They said it would be
ready in an hour. We drove to
Pinsdorf-Kufhaus, to the Dichtmühl Pub, a proper country pub for locals. Naturally at that time of day we were the
only customers and had a splendid hour-long chat. By the end of it the car was ready, and when I
left Thomas’s house at 11:30, he shouted after me: Don’t forget to take the
butter out of the car, or it’ll turn rancid.
It already is a bit rancid, I said, and drove away. Before I left I reminded Thomas that on
Wednesday I had my tarot evening so that we wouldn’t be able to see each other
again until tomorrow, Thursday. Come to
my house, said Thomas. I’d rather not,
because if you’re not working, you’ll come see me anyhow, and you’re if busy
writing you can’t have any use for me. It’ll
definitely be better if you come.
Today I also
wrote to Mrs. Vera Wildgruber. I haven’t
been able to show Thomas the carbon copy yet, because I wrote this letter at
five in the morning and Thomas hasn’t been to my house since. But I filled Thomas in on the essential
contents of my letter as we were walking around the Krucka. This got Thomas talking again about the actor
Ulrich Wildgruber’s spouse’s terrible letter.
He said he couldn’t ever possibly get married. When he thinks to himself that his wife might
write such a letter or could meddle in his business! So it’s quite simply impossible for me to
have a wife. Only if I’m lying in bed
with a 40-degree fever will I think of getting a wife, said Thomas. In a case like that you’ll just have to hire
yourself your own personal nurse, I said.
Then it’ll be her job to be there, and she’ll have to take care of you. But it would be even better and cheaper if
you asked the president of the Society for Literature, Kraus, either directly
or via Hilde Spiel, to send you a talented young female writer to be your
nurse. Then which women report for duty
would be decided immediately; they’ll believe they can practice their trade at
the same time. Or they’ll be of the
opinion that if they’re nursing a successful writer they’ll be able to write
better. It’s like assuming Mann’s
daughter writes better articles because her father was a famous writer. For ten or twenty paces in a row Thomas
didn’t say anything. Then he said that
nothing was more terrible than what could happened to a person who was the son
or daughter of a famous father. Such
children will never achieve anything because they know that they’ll never touch
the greatness and the fame of their father.
That robs them of their courage from the outset. In reply to this I said: It’s also possible
that they’ll see that their father often got so famous just thanks to a stroke
of good fortune or luck. If in such
cases they go on to learn about the deeper causes and interconnections, that’ll
also discourage them from accomplishing anything special. Yes of course, said Thomas.
really quite odd, the kind of conversation and the trains of thought in
Thomas’s mind and mine that got started by Mrs. Wildgruber’s stupid
letter. But there must be writers who
can’t write anything because they haven’t got any material. I’m understanding better and better why
Thomas so strongly resists being labeled a “writer.”
May 27, 1972
Thomas didn’t come to see me Thursday evening, I visited him at Nathal at 10
o’clock this morning. He was just about
to leave for Gmunden in order to browse the newspapers. I arrived in rubber boots because it was
raining cats and dogs. When I asked him
at the courtyard gate if I was disturbing him, he gave me new leather
slippers. Because Thomas was in Salzburg
yesterday, he naturally had a lot of things to report on.
from Residenz Publications wants to have Treeline
filmed for the same honorarium as the one for Frost. This TV movie is
supposed to be filmed at the same places as The
Italian was. But there are no plans
to have Radax be the director, because if there were he would have had to know
something when he was here on Whitsun Monday, said Thomas. And so first thing Monday he’s going to send
off a letter withdrawing his consent to have Frost adapted for film by the ORF.
If he can bag the same sum for Treeline,
he’d rather have Treeline
filmed. Nothing can go wrong with that,
like with Kulterer, because of course
Treeline is nothing special. Whereas it would be a shame if Frost were filmed badly and maybe later
on a better director for Frost will
turn up anyway. But if Frost is made into a bad film, no good
director will angle for any of this stuff anymore.
told Thomas that he was going to accept a play by Canetti. Canetti has asked for an honorarium of
100,000 schillings, and Schaffler thinks that Thomas told Canetti that he had
gotten 100,000 schillings for The Italian
and that that was why he was asking for that sum. Schaffler hasn’t yet answered Canetti
regarding this request and he told Thomas that honoraria as high as the ones
Thomas gets aren’t common, even for good writers. And so he was going to offer Canetti 30,000
schillings. I would have let him have
the 100,000, said Thomas. But this way
at least he’ll see, what he’s worth, I said during the pause when Thomas was
considering saying something else. He
was surely thinking about making a similar remark.
said that he had “dismembered” several of Schaffler’s blurbs. In Schaffler’s presence he excoriated several
authors published by Schaffler. He
fished out some sentences and read them aloud, read them correctly, so that Schaffler
could see what nonsense those sentences expressed. But he said that Schaffler should go ahead and
publish them, because nobody reads a text the way he does, and the great mass
of readers never realize what nonsense they’ve been given to read, because
they’re absentminded. Everybody in
general is absentminded. I went on to
tell Schaffler that he was publishing copies of copies, because first Handke
copied him (Bernhard), and now everybody was copying Handke. But you know I told him all this in a
friendly, good-humored way, because that’s the only way you can tell people the
truth; if I hadn’t I’d have fallen out with Schaffler and I’d even have had to
look for a new tax adviser.
course Unseld was much more important to me; I met up with him in
Salzburg. Thomas said nothing about the
particulars of his conversation with Unseld, but he did mention that he’d met
with the president of the Salzburg Festival, Kaut. Kaut told him that no premiering play had
brought in as many ticket sales for all performances as this one had. On top of that, he was going to have to put
the brakes on Peymann, the director, because he wanted a co-director’s
honorarium of 10,000 schillings for a certain female medical student of his
acquaintance. Kaut declined to give him
this. Thomas said that Kaut was doing
the right thing, because the actors in Berlin have learned the movements
they’ve got to make, the movements that are made when cadavers are operated on,
at the anatomical institute. So a mere
medical student can’t override their say on what the proper movements are. Anyone who could would obviously have to be
somebody other than a mere student. Then,
said Thomas, he was almost literally dumbstruck when Kaut told him the
videotaping of the play by the ORF was a sure thing again. Thomas didn’t know that the ORF’s original
consent had been withdrawn with all sorts of explanations, etc., and that only
a bit earlier Kaut received a letter from the ORF explaining that the situation
was different now and that the taping for telecast was going to take place
after all. Once again you see how shaky
these things always are in Austria, said Thomas.
asked me when I was last at Mrs. Menzel the antiques dealer’s shop at 13
Getreidegasse. I replied: I was most
recently there a few minutes before I met with Moidele Bickel and Hermann. Mrs. Menzel reproached me for not having
brought her the Renaissance room I had promised her. I told her that it wasn’t to my taste to give
her goods on commission. She doubles my
costs. If she sells it she’ll get as
much as me for the goods; if not, she doesn’t run any risk, because of course
she hasn’t staked any money on the goods.
I’d like to have a business like that, where everybody gives me goods on
commission, I said. Mrs. Menzel said I
should start an antique shop myself.
Whereupon I said to her that I couldn’t do that, because I didn’t
understand it and because you probably need decades of experience in this
trade. You see, she said, I’ve been
active in this business for forty years.
Yes, and surely you can still learn a thing or two more about it even
today, I said.
You see, I
was at Mrs. Menzel’s shop, said Thomas, and when I said that I was from
Ohlsdorf, she started talking about you right away and knew you were from
Ohlsdorf. But she’s got nothing but
execrable things there. I only went
there because of a painting that was in the front window, but I wouldn’t want
to have a single piece of hers. I didn’t
see your picture of the Virgin Mary there.
Which picture of the Virgin Mary?
I’ve got two, I said. You know,
the old one, said Thomas; you were planning to bring it to her. Yes, I said, but it’s hanging on the wall in
my house. Because you like it so much, I
like it even better now. It was the
other one, which you also know, that I took to Mrs. Menzel’s. Yes, that one’s right for her; she deals in
things like that, said Thomas. I’d never
like such a picture. Then I asked Thomas if I might take a look at his portrait
of Joseph II, which he’d brought from Vienna the previous week. Sure, go up there, but don’t fall down the
stairs. The slippers are slippery
because they’re new. In the room at the
top of the stairs I contemplated the portrait between two windows above the
inlaid table. I liked it very much, and
it looked good there. I also told Thomas
By then it
was 11am; I had learned enough again, and I prepared to leave. As I was putting my rubber boots back on and
Thomas was accompanying me to the gate, he also told me that he was still going
to visit his aunt at Wolfsegg today. He
was planning to read the newspapers in Gmunden before then. In this rainy weather your aunt will be
especially glad if you come to see her, I said, and then I drove off. Before I left Thomas said: Perhaps I’ll come
see you this evening.
actually did come to see me at 7:00pm.
That’s rare on a Saturday, because then he usually meets up with the
Hufnagels or the O’Donells. The reason
why he came was destined to come to light later on. Preliminarily we spoke some more about Mrs.
Schmied, who was planning to leave Lederau today. Thomas said he’d been over there; the house
was unlocked; the expensive cameras were lying all over the place; Mrs. Schmied
was nowhere to be seen, not even elsewhere in the neighborhood. She simply drives off without locking up the
house. I’d like for something to be
stolen from her sometime so that she’ll learn that it’s a good idea to lock up
the house when you’re leaving it.
8:15pm, when Thomas wanted to see Jean-Luc Godard’s film Weekend on Channel 2, I knew why he’d come by on Saturday this
week. Thomas was unusually enthusiastic
from the very beginning of the film and said that Radax could learn something by
watching it. Thomas stayed till
10:30. Before he left I told him that my
brother from Schwarzenau would be visiting on Monday. Thomas said he could still remember him.
May 30, 1972
At 7pm Thomas
walked into my living room. We had a
particularly large feast laid out, because we were celebrating my daughter
Reinhild’s name day. Apart from my wife,
Granny, Reinhild, and Wolfi my daughter Elfriede was at the table with her
husband Franz Stiegler. I invited Thomas
to join us right away, and he was very merry.
His good mood lasted so long that he even stayed to watch the show “What
Am I” with us. Before that Bishop Zak
could be seen on “The World in Images.”
He spoke about environmental pollution.
Thomas said: They should stop polluting the intellectual environment
themselves. When he recalls Dean Kern of
Ohlsdorf’s funeral eulogy, it’s enough to tear his ass-cheeks to pieces. When we then switched over to the “Daily
Show” on the German channel, Thomas said he had spoken with Unseld about German
politics last Friday. The arch-socialist
Unseld himself didn’t believe that the socialists would emerge as victors from
the new elections. Thomas went on to
say: Everything that weakens Germany strengthens Europe, he told Unseld,
because he believes a strong Germany strengthens Europe.
things otherwise stand between you and Unseld right now? I asked. I
could get anything I wanted from him. If I asked for a gold cover for
my new book,
he’d even have that done. Perhaps
because your appointment as a corresponding member of the academy in
impressed him so much? I asked. No, he
didn’t even know a thing about that yet, I told him about it. But on
account of the membership, I subsequently
received a letter addressed to “The Member of the Germany Academy for
and Literature.” That’ll soon come to an
end. In the letter the academy informs
me that all new members will introduce themselves with a speech. You
see, they’ve got you, I said. You said there were no obligations
to it. They’ll never get a speech from
you, because you won’t fake it, and you won’t say the truth there; you
can’t give a speech. Of course not, said
Thomas; I simply won’t go there. Who can
force me to go there? You must also
write that you don’t want to be mentioned as a member. That’s exactly
what you don’t want, to be a
“member.” Yes, that’ll simply come to an
end entirely on its own. If I don’t join
in, then it’ll simply fall asleep.
said that he would visit his aunt at Wolfsegg tomorrow, Wednesday. I asked him to ask his aunt if it would be
all right for us to pay her a visit on Thursday, Corpus Christi Day, so that we
didn’t disturb her during her afternoon nap if we visited. Thomas said that after his visit tomorrow he
would come see me and let me know.
Thomas went home with our regards for his aunt at 10:30 pm.
May 31, 1972
Thomas came to my house directly from Wolfsegg.
He knew that I’d have to leave again for my card game at 7:00, and he
said right away that he’d only detain me till seven. At Wolfsegg he was with his aunt in the rear
courtyard of the house; despite the rain they had a good view of the
mountains. What’s more, he and his aunt
happened to hear a circa-30-minute-long program about Verstörung on the radio. I
reminded Thomas how back then telegrams were flying to and from his publishing
firm for a fortnight and how in the end even his editor sided with Unseld and
proposed a different title. His editor,
a woman who otherwise always stood by Thomas.
Eventually it got to the point where the firm proposed three titles to
Thomas, and he had to choose one of them, or else the book wouldn’t be
published. They said that his time was
up, that if he didn’t choose, it wouldn’t be ready to be shown at the book
fair. I reminded Thomas that I received
a telegram almost every day and that I kept telling him he had to stick to his
guns. But then when the three proposals
arrived I said he should wire back that they would have to print the title as
it stood. Today every other title would
be perceived as a foreign body, I said, and what’s more, since the publication
of Verstörung that word has been used
more and more often as a catchword by journalists.
June 1, 1972
At 3:30pm my
mother, my wife, and I visited Aunt Hede at Wolfsegg. We stopped by the rear courtyard and then
went walking till 6:30. Along the way
Mrs. Stavianicek kept asking us whether we didn’t find the walk too long and
perhaps far too taxing, and she showed us the grand tour she had walked with
Thomas the day before. When I started
talking to her about the fact that the day before she and Thomas had gotten to
hear an excerpt from Verstörung, she
didn’t agree with me when I said: The title must originate with the
author. Aunt Hede told us that she could still
clearly recall when she had been walking with Dr. Wieland Schmied and
St. Veit in Pongau before the midnight mass on Christmas Eve and looking
title for a volume of poetry by Thomas.
A ton of proposed titles were discussed.
She couldn’t say anymore what title was then selected. But she hadn’t
forgotten that among other
titles Dr. Wieland Schmied had proposed “Stray Dogs.” I also told Mrs.
Stavianicek that she could
come with me and my family to the premiere in Salzburg if she liked.
Thomas isn’t going to attend the premiere. He’s giving his ticket to my
mother so that
they can be together at the theater.
Aunt Hede was enthusiastic about this proposal, and our three hours with
her went by in a trice. She also said
that at the age of 78 she was gradually having to get used to talking to
people as well. So far she’s only ever
rubbed shoulders with younger people, but at the boarding house, in the
evening, it’s gradually becoming necessary for her to concern herself
people. Until now she’s only ever
oriented herself towards the young.
June 3, 1972
Thomas walked into my house. Even though
he often goes for months without coming by on a Saturday, I immediately said: I
was expecting you. How come, he
asked. Because you recently said you
wanted to watch Peer Gynt, and
because you certainly wouldn’t want to be glued to your set by yourself for so
long, I knew you’d come. Thomas said
that he’d just come from visiting Aunt Hede at Wolfsegg. He asked me how our visit had gone, what was
new. I said it that was very nice, that
his aunt had told anecdotes and talked constantly, so that the time had really flown
by. But Aunt Hede actually said the same
thing about you. You talked and told
anecdotes constantly, she told me. I was
a world away then. I nodded my head and
meditated. Then I said: That really
isn’t possible; I was listening the whole time; otherwise how could I know all
the stuff she was talking about. Then I
recited to Thomas a list of all the topics that his aunt had spoken about. Naturally I spoke as well, but really for the
most part I just listened. Well, because
I know you both, I can get a pretty good idea of what it was like, said
Thomas. But my aunt said exactly the
same thing as you; you talked, and she mostly listened. Probably each of us got the same impression
because we were almost always thinking along the same lines.
very enthusiastic about the new arrangement that will allow his aunt to ride
with us to the festival and back.
Because the original plan had been for his aunt to ride to Salzburg with
the Hufnagls and stay there overnight with them after the premiere. That would all be much too complicated and
troublesome. On top of that Thomas has
also abandoned his plan to host a small celebration in a café after that
performance, a celebration that a few actors also would have attended. I was also opposed to such a celebration,
because there’s really nothing to celebrate.
And how is that supposed to work when you still have to drive almost an
hour to get home afterwards?
By then it
was late enough for us to watch Peer Gynt
on television. Thomas was interested in
it because Hermann had designed the sets and Bruno Ganz was a member of the
cast. Of course both of them are
involved in the premiere of The Ignoramus
and the Madman in Salzburg. At 11:00
Thomas left me and said he’d come back to watch the second part tomorrow.
June 8, 1972
Thomas came by. I invited him to join us
for lunch. Thomas had a ton of things to
tell me about. On Sunday when he was
planning to come by for the second part of Peer
Gynt, he was with O’Donell in Hochkreuth and was too tired to watch
television afterwards. He asked me how
it was. I told him: I watched till
10:30. When I realized then that you
weren’t going to come, I thought if you don’t want to see it, then I don’t need
to see it either, and I switched it off.
told me that the speaker of parliament’s wife was in Hochkreuth and had brought
Mrs. O’Donell a big bouquet of flowers with her. As she was handing it over Mrs. Maleta said
that she had received this bouquet from the chancellor who was a guest of her
husband’s that day and that she actually didn’t care for those flowers. As Thomas was saying this he wagged his head
and pursed his lips at me. That was
another treat for you, savoring something so impossible. Yes of course, said Thomas, and how can she
talk about the chancellor anyway? That
could only have been Schleinzer, who she’s already calling the chancellor. That’s all totally impossible; I could never
get away with writing something like that; nobody would buy it; people would
say that I was exaggerating immeasurably.
Mrs. Maleta had to leave early, because the chancellor was there, she
said. But the whole hubbub got me so
tired that I didn’t want to watch Peer
Thomas went on to tell me, he went with Hufnagl the architect and O’Donell to
the Weissen Rössl in St. Wolfgang, to Altötting in Bavaria, and to
Burghausen. Because O’Donell wants to
build an eatery in Hochkreuth, they went on an inspection tour of modern
hotels. Then in the evening they had a
very good and very cheap dinner in Mattighofen.
I’m supposed to share this with the theater people who are staying in
Pfaffstätt. Because it got every late
when they were in Mattighofen, he couldn’t visit me on Monday, Thomas said.
he was also too tired to come because he ran into Mrs. Maleta at Lampl the
butcher’s shop in Gmunden, and she insisted on seeing the Krucka. He was with her at the Krucka, and Mrs.
Maleta was so enthusiastic that she really didn’t want to go back
downhill. The Maletas have been close to
Lampl the butcher since 1945. Because
when Mr. Maleta was being driven through Gmunden on an American truck back
then, he jumped off on am Graben and ran straight through Lampl’s front
door. Then he hid out there for a while
until he could go to his villa in Oberweis.
Finally Thomas told Mrs. Maleta that they’d have to go back down into
the valley, and afterwards Mrs. Maleta invited him to Oberweis for tea. And just imagine, said Thomas, when she
showed me the visitors’ book, Gorbach’s name was written there right under my
nose. So by the chancellor she’d meant
Gorbach (he was already retired at the time).
Wednesday, said Thomas, I was planning to come see you despite your gym class.
But I saw that your car was already parked in Ohlsdorf by 7pm, and so here I am
with you at noon today. There’s still
lots of other news to tell you, you see.
So I’m now
going to resign my membership of the academy in Darmstadt after all. Just imagine it, yesterday I received another
letter; the envelope was addressed to “The Academy Member.” I can’t put up with
receiving any more letters like that. I
can’t be a “member”; I’ve got to annul that.
I’m going to write that to that fine fellow Krolow. Naturally I’m not going to write “Mr.
President”; I can’t do that; I don’t address Kaut as Mr. President either. After further consideration I’ve concluded
that I simply can’t accept the membership. I simply can’t do something that I find
oppressive. Whereupon I said: maybe
Unseld won’t be okay with this. I’ve got
a fool’s license with Unseld; I can do whatever I like with him. I’m going to write to him that he’s got to
remit 10,000 schillings to my account at the Oberbank branch in Gmunden,
because I’m pretty much already overdrawn.
Thomas then itemized his expenditures: the fence around the pasture, the
chimney-tops, then part of the roof will have to be redone, etc.
said that early today he’d received an official notice that he along with
Günther Nenning was being sued by The
Groove and that the hearing was going to take place in the Hernalser Gürtel
in Vienna on 6/22. In its May issue the New Forum printed his old letter about
the theater. Several years ago, Thomas
was supposed to write about the theater for a theater journal. At the time he wrote the editor a letter
stating that he wasn’t going to write about the theater, because the theater,
and especially the Burgtheater, was so bad that he couldn’t write any articles
at all. Because he’d been criticizing
the theater for more than ten years, and then he’d have to appear in court and
be sentenced to pay a fine. Because he
didn’t want to have any dealings with the courts, he wasn’t going to write
about the theater.
naturally contained some devastating criticism of the Burgtheater. The editor then printed this letter, which
naturally wasn’t intended for publication, in lieu of an article about the
theater by Thomas Bernhard. Because of
this, Thomas was sued by The Groove
in 1970. At the time Thomas asked
Günther Nenning, the president of the journalists’ union, to provide him with a
good lawyer for cases involving the press. On top of that he asked Hilde Spiel
to attend the hearing so that no distorted accounts of the hearing would
emerge. At the time Thomas was really
agitated; for weeks before the hearing he was at my house every day and
couldn’t be calmed down. And so I went
with my wife to this hearing. In the court’s
subpoena, Thomas was described as a journalist.
That was enough to make him go around blushing with rage for weeks. But at the hearing itself a compromise
agreement was worked out. The two
gentlemen from The Groove weren’t
personally opposed to Thomas Bernhard, and after it was explained that the
letter was a private one that hadn’t been intended for publication, as was
obvious from its text, they were fine with a compromise agreement in which
Thomas was symbolically obligated to pay a schilling in damages and both
parties bore the court costs themselves.
The Groove was evidently
interested in keeping the monstrous attacks on the theater from receiving too
much publicity and didn’t make use of the right to a public reply contained in
the settlement in the hope that the whole business would blow over.
Nenning has reprinted this letter with its insulting criticism in the New Forum. Thomas immediately wrote to Nenning that he
was going to protest against this unauthorized publication and that the Forum would have to bear sole
responsibility for it. In the meantime
Thomas received from The Groove a
letter bristling with insulting remarks.
You see, in the New Forum the
text was presented in such a way as to suggest that Thomas had only recently
make these assertions. It was therefore
unsurprising that The Groove reacted
so irately. Now Thomas asked me about
finding a lawyer who could represent him on 6/22 in Vienna. Ideally, Thomas said, he won’t go there at
all, because he’ll be so agitated that he’ll lose his composure, that what he
said about the theater was accurate and that he’d possibly even start hurling
abuse at the judge, so that he could even end up being arrested.
I said: This
just won’t fly; if you spewed some venom years ago, people can’t just keep
stirring that venom up over and over again.
This obviously could be repeated every year; editors could just keep
publishing this text, and you’d be sued every year. There’s only one lawyer, I said, Dr. Michael
Stern. The only important thing is for
you to have the reference number from the hearing with the compromise agreement
in 1970. I’ve got it, said Thomas,
because I’ve still got the summons from back then. And can you believe it, he continued,
“journalist” is on the summons again this time.
So I really can’t go there, because who knows what’ll end up happening. So, if you’ve still got the summons from 1970,
because the reference number’s on it, it won’t be necessary for you to appear
at the hearing in person. Dr. Stern will
just have to ask for the act from back then to be brought in. Everything is evident from this act, and
you’ll be out of the woods. Because a
compromise agreement is something that’s been agreed to, something that’s still
in effect today. If Dr. Günther Nenning
can’t prove that he had your consent to the letter’s publication, he’ll simply
be condemned. But if you should still be
subpoenaed anyway, I’d say that you can’t remember anything anymore and that
you’re sticking to your testimony from 1970.
Then the hearing will quickly come to an end.
enthusiastic about my proposal. Because
Thomas knew that I was in close contact with Dr. Michael Stern, he asked me to speak
with him and urge him to take the case.
By then it was 2:30pm, and I immediately proposed my trying to reach Dr.
Stern via his unlisted number. We drove
together to the post office in Steyrermühl, from which Thomas was planning to
drive on to Wolfsegg to see his aunt. I
was lucky enough to get hold of Dr. Stern on the phone, and after I gave him a
brief summary of the case, Dr. Stern told me that Bernhard should come see him
between 2 and 8pm on Monday and mention me as a reference. I told Thomas that he’d have to bring
everything with him because Dr. Stern was very curt and matter-of-fact, and that
he should be especially sure to bring along a 50,000-schilling advance. That if possible he should mention the
payment of the advance at the beginning of the conversation, because Dr. Stern
insists on having money upfront before he does anything. Monday was very congenial to Thomas, because
he was planning to drive Aunt Hede to Vienna, so he would be in Vienna on
Monday anyway. He said he’d tell Aunt
Hede about this right away and left for Wolfsegg. I’ll come see you again in the evening, he said.
back at 7pm. He and Aunt Hede agreed
that he would bring her to Nathal after dinner on Saturday. I said he should stop by with her for tea on
Saturday afternoon. Thomas stayed still
9:30pm. We kept going over what we had
already talked about at noon. But in
conclusion Thomas said that this time he wasn’t going to feel as depressed in
the days leading up to the hearing, that he was even going to try to stay in
Vienna until Friday and work some more on his novel.
June 9, 1972
At 7pm Thomas
visited me. He said that the
oil-drilling was already underway. He
also mentioned that three days earlier, June 9, 1972, he had received a reply
to his letter to Governor Wenzl from a while back. The reply was more or less to the same effect
as the one from Sinowatz the education minister, but the letter was dated 5/30.
So it takes six days for a letter like
this to make it out of the office when it’s already been written. You’d really end up a goner if you had to
depend on something like this, said Thomas.
He said that Aunt Hede must be packing already because he was going to
pick her up tomorrow. He’ll stop by here
with her on his way to Nathal.
also been to the Krucka and said that the arnica was already blooming. Because there’s only one spot on his property
where arnica blooms and we had still had a small bottle from last year, my
mother said: We’ll fetch it first thing tomorrow morning. Thomas got tired quickly and only stayed till
Thomas came to our house with Aunt Hede.
He had left Wolfsegg with Aunt Hede immediately after lunch and visited
the Krucka with her. From the Krucka he
came directly to my house. He naturally
had already seen that the arnica had been picked, and we could show him a basketful
of it. It was very pleasant. After two
hours, at about 5pm, the symptoms of Mrs. Stavianicek and Thomas’s having
missed their midday naps became noticeable. But I noticed this just in the nick of time
and changed the subject to something stimulating. After that all of us, including my wife and
my mother, who were there, were in such rare form that Aunt Hede even blurted
out that she had spent five years at the Grafenhof Lung Clinic. These clinics and illnesses, like all such
topics, are always painstakingly steered clear of, even though we all naturally
know all about them. But Aunt Hede said
this in connection with a round-the-world voyage taken by one of her female
friends, and so we went on to talk more about this friend of hers. But we were all quite surprised to learn that
Aunt Hede had had to spend five years there.
Until then we’d had no idea how long she’d been there. We continued cheerfully chatting for so long
that it wasn’t until 6:30 that Aunt Hede and Thomas left us.
Thomas is planning
to leave for Vienna with his aunt just before ten tomorrow morning and to stop
somewhere for lunch along the way, so that he’ll be in Vienna by 3pm. Thomas asked me to check on his house every
day. The key is stowed, he says. Probably he won’t come back before
Friday. I walked Thomas and his aunt to
his car. Then Thomas insisted on my
coming along to take a quick look at his new fireplace, to see what a nice job
Ferdl had made of it. I did that and drove
straight back home.
Thursday, I had checked on the key to the gate, and since it was stowed
differently than usual, somebody must have been using the key. Since only Ferdl knew about the key, I stuck
my head into the courtyard to see if he had done any work or brought anything
over. It turned out that Ferdl, the
bricklayer who does jobs at Thomas’s house, still had some work to do.
nearly five o’clock in the afternoon Thomas still hadn’t stopped by my house, I
wanted to find out if he’d even gotten back from Vienna yet. I drove to Nathal and immediately saw from
the position of the key that it was stowed the way Thomas stows it. Whenever he’s away, it’s always in a
different position, so I can easily tell whether it’s been used. To make sure Thomas was there, I also checked
to see if the mail, which had been deposited in the former pigsty in the
meantime, was gone. Yes, the mail was
gone, so I could expect Thomas in the evening.
About an hour later a car with Belgian plates parked in my little patch
of woods, on the Ohlsdorf-bound side of the street. I immediately thought that this car was bound
for Thomas’s house at Nathal, and I stopped by so that I could give the driver
directions. But as I approached the car,
I thought: As often as I’ve been here, I overlook the turn-off to Nathal every
time. Ah, you’re trying to get to Thomas
Bernhard’s place, I said. He’s only just
gotten back from Vienna today. I was
over there an hour ago, but he wasn’t at home.
Well, we wrote that we’d come at 6pm, said the man, so he’ll surely be
there now. Then I thought to myself that
this could only be Count Uexküll with his spouse, because Thomas never receives
any other visitors from Belgium.
Thomas walked in through the front door and said: So they’ve left now.
Were they the Uexkülls, I asked. Yes, they told me they’d spoken with
you. I knew right away that it could only have
been you. The Uexkülls spent the night
at my house. They’re on their way to
Geneva and took a detour to see me.
Uexküll is a native of Vienna, and in Brussels he’s got to look after
the refugees from the Eastern Bloc for the UN.
But he’s sympathetic to the Baader-Meinhof Group. Uexküll is a
committed Leftist and against
every from of private property. I’ve
been so badly corrupted by him that now I suddenly wouldn’t like to have
property at all either. But in order to
get horrified by private property, you’ve got to have some in the first
otherwise you can’t get properly horrified by it, I said. So that must
also be why you first started
hating it. Yes, you’re right, said
naturally very curious about how Thomas had fared at Dr. Stern’s law
and Thomas told me: Dr. Stern didn’t know a damn thing about anything,
his people at his office made a good impression. Everything seemed to
be very well organized. Dr. Stern was also very nice, but he didn’t
know a thing about cases having to do with the press. He has therefore
simply entrusted all these
cases to a certain woman, Dr. Schönborn.
She says that Dr. Stern is her uncle and that he, Thomas Bernhard,
shouldn’t make anything of this, that Dr. Stern has no idea who he is.
This Dr. Schönborn then accepted the case as
a matter of course, and by the next day the transcript of the hearing
was at the law office. The transcript
precisely specifies Thomas’s degree of liability, and it will be
the court. Thomas himself does not need
to be present at the hearing. Thomas
said that it was a great weight off his shoulders not to have to be
there. Thomas went on to say that in Vienna he had
run into Schaffler the publisher and his wife.
Suddenly it occurred to him that he was supposed to visit Schaffler in
Salzburg the next day. He had completely
forgotten about that. But he just
started hemming and hawing about how he’d been just on the point of
to let him know that he wouldn’t be able to go to Salzburg tomorrow, and
how glad he was that he’d run into Schlaffler because it would spare him
trouble of sending a telegram. Thomas
invited them both to come to the Sacher with him. They sat there for
over two hours, and Mrs.
Schaffler and her husband were quite surprised that anyone could sit
for two hours and not have to rush about. These two hours did the
Schafflers a great
deal of good. As they were sitting in
front of the Sacher, Haeussermann walked by and said as he was walking
the contracts have been signed—the schillings are rolling in.” It’s
very good that Haeussermann told me
that, because now I know that the contracts have been signed. Because I
asked Unseld to ask for so much for
the videotaping that my debts to him have been paid off; now I’ll write
that we’re even, that he should send me another advance right away. If
Unseld hasn’t asked for that much, that’s
his problem, because he should have notified me. I believe he couldn’t
do that without my
consent; what do you think? You’re a sly
dog, I said; something’s new is always occurring to you. The way you
describe it, you’re debt-free no
matter what, regardless of the size of the sums in the contracts when
finalized. Yes, he said, whatever extra
he might get belongs to the firm, said Thomas.
I only wanted enough to make me debt-free. Thanks to this I also know
that the taping in
Salzburg will definitely be taking place.
By the way,
said Thomas, Peymann and his actors should be here as of yesterday. You know, this rainy weather would be good
for paying them a visit in Pfaffstätt.
They were definitely supposed to get there on 6/16. I said: just to be safe, I’ll ring up the
shop in Pfaffstätt beforehand; they’ll surely know whether the Berliners have
arrived. When I rang, Mrs. Neuhauser in
Pfaffstätt couldn’t recall anything that had attracted her attention. But she was very nice and said that she would
go see Mrs. Bamberger herself, that I should call back in 30 minutes.
Thomas and I had gotten the impression that they Peymanns weren’t there yet,
because they would have attracted people’s attention right away in Pfaffstätt and
obviously had to pass by Mrs. Bamberger’s shop when they turned onto the
street. A half an hour later, when I rang again, Mrs. Baumberger herself was on
the phone and said that the Peymanns were scheduled to arrive on 6/26. She asked me how many beds she should
fix. She had already made up six
beds. I told her that I didn’t remember
anymore, that that was why when we were setting up the accommodations I had
said that she should put the number of guests and their names on the
doorframes, so that when the people came they’d all know how they’d been
divvied up. Now it turns out that she herself
doesn’t remember anymore. Then I asked
Mrs. Bamberger to notify Mrs. Neuhauser immediately if anybody from Berlin came
in, so that the latter could tell me by phone whether he was there already.
very angry that his condition that his play should be rehearsed for at least
six weeks wasn’t being met. Surely, I
said, during the rehearsals it will become evident that that the play contains
certain difficulties and that it can’t be rehearsed like some popular favorite. Yes, said Thomas, the director, Dorn, from
Hamburg, has already realized that.
There the performance will take place much later, but they’re already
rehearsing. Really such a play should be
rehearsed for three months straight. I
can imagine that with such short rehearsals leading right up to the premiere,
they’ll be totally exhausted, and then they’re bound to achieve something. Yes, it’s incredible, said Thomas, now we’ve
got to take a walk, even if it’s raining.
I just can’t stand it any longer.
The walk in the rain did us so much good that right after Culture Special we went for another walk
to pass the time until The Age in Images. Later Thomas was also planning to watch on
television the Russian film Stolen Life
adapted from The Overcoat by Gogol.
unexpectedly, because it was Sunday, Thomas came by at 8pm. I’ll only stay with you for an hour; you see,
I’ve been invited with O’Donell to come to Mrs. Maleta’s at 9:00. Thomas said that he’d stopped by to take a
look at the gas drilling and that he’d be glad for them if they found
something. They have insulated all the
pipelines and exhaust pipes so heavily that even with the windows open Uexküll
and his wife couldn’t hear anything but a faint, steady hum and were able to
sleep very well. He said it was very
interesting to watch what was happening there.
I told him that when he had been in Vienna I had already stopped by
there several times and that they were working incredibly quickly. Every grip and every movement has its place
just like in the circus. They’ve already
reached a depth of 950 meters.
almost lost track of the time while chatting; suddenly Thomas looked at his
watch; it was 9:00, and he raced off to Oberweis.
On my way
back from Gmunden I saw a flame as high as a house blazing at the drilling
sight at Nathal. I drove in, and amid
much loud noise water and gas hissed out of the pipe for burning off
fires. Shortly after I got there, the
flame was extinguished, and with a rag on a long pole the workers got the
effluent mixture of gas and water burning again.
After that I
went to see Thomas. It was exactly 11am;
the key was in the inner side of the keyhole, so he was there. As the window was open; I called out to him
through the window. Thomas came directly
from bed in his bathrobe. Just imagine:
it got to be 4am at the Maletas’. Was he
there too, I asked. No, I think I
wouldn’t have turned up at all then.
When the cat’s away, the mice will play, said Thomas. He said that the park at their villa was spectacularly
beautiful. For the mowing of the lawn
they’ve got two riding mowers at 60,000 schillings apiece, so that the park is
always taken care of, and the park also includes 360 meters of the bank of the
Traun. These people are stinking rich. In Vienna they also have a few factories; his
salary as president of Parliament is probably just “pocket money.” Thomas also asked me to take a walk with him
in the afternoon, if I’d have the time.
The whole afternoon, at any time, I said. Come whenever it suits you; I’ll be at home.
At 2:00 I
started getting bored, and as I was hoping that Thomas wouldn’t come very soon on
account of the frantic night, I drove to Steindl’s building site at Ohlsdorf to
do some work. I told my wife: If Thomas
comes, he’s to go meet me at the site, and we’ll set out on our walk from
to Weinberg at 4:00 and spoke with my wife, but he left his car at Weinberg and
walked through the woods via the forester’s lodge and met me at the building
site in Ohlsdorf. When he arrived, I
declared that I was ready to continue marching immediately. Thomas said that it had gotten very cool in
the forest, that he’d prefer to take field paths. We headed south, but after ten minutes we
turned around because a thunderstorm was gathering. We had barely reached my car when it started
sprinkling. When we got to the house, we
noticed that the storm was heading in another direction, and Thomas said: I
won’t put up with being stuck in this room for the next two hours until the news. He wrapped himself up in a blanket and lay
down in the garden. I sat down next to
him in a chair. Thomas told me that
today he’d already mailed off his letter to Unseld informing him that he’d
learned about the contracts from Heussermann, etc. At the same time he’d almost suffered a blow
today, because in the Frankfurter
Allgemeine Zeitung he read of a car accident that Unseld had been
in; a clavicle fracture, etc., said Thomas.
So now Unseld won’t be able to swim for a long time. That’s his hobby;
he swims every day. But a disaster like this could happen at any
time, and who knows how a successor of his would treat me. Unseld does a
great deal on my behalf.
told me that he’d already prepared for his trip to Salzburg to see Schaffler
tomorrow. That tomorrow was the final
deadline for submitting tax returns.
Apart from a few old train tickets and plane tickets as well as some
electric bills and petrol receipts he’s got nothing to present that he could
write off. In addition to this he’ll
tell Schaffler that he won’t be having the town or the state pay for his roof,
because roofing the residential part only costs 25,000 schillings, and he
doesn’t want to sacrifice his independence for that amount of money. He said that in any case he’d prefer to have
somebody think that on account of 25,000 schillings he’d done something for
him. That this sum was far too trifling,
that he’d rather pay for the roof himself.
That in addition to this he wasn’t going to let Radax film his Frost because he was too weak for it and
because on account of the money he was in no need of that now.
When it had
gotten late enough that we were headed for the television to watch The Age in Images, Thomas fetched the Kurier from his car and showed me an article
about him with a headline reading “Versus Thomas Bernhard.” Once again we
discussed his visit to Dr. Stern regarding this case. After 9:00 Thomas showed signs of
fatigue. He was feeling the aftermath of
the preceding day, when he didn’t get to bed till 4am, and drove home.
At 8am I ran
into Thomas at the Ohlsdorf post office.
Because he had been in Salzburg the day before, he wanted to tell me
about a few things. But I had no time,
because I had things to do in Gmunden, and we agreed to meet for a walk at
punctually, and we walked to the forester’s lodge via Aupointen. We
inspected the abandoned forester’s lodge,
and Thomas said that I should ask if it mightn’t be for sale. He might
possibly buy it, because it would be
too bad if it fell into ruin. On our way
to the forester’s lodge Thomas said that now that he had been to
wasn’t as worried about the rehearsals with Peymann, because he had run
Tinguely the stage designer. He’s
running all over town; he’s supposed to be doing the stage design for
Felsenreitschule and still has no idea of how he’s going to do it. He’s
got no idea and no ideas. Thomas then told him he should put down
rails, etc. In order to give him further
suggestions, he agreed that they should meet at the Tomaselli at 3pm.
Thomas waited till 4:00; then he went to his
hotel and left him a note. In it he wrote: “Where were you? I waited
for you for an hour! I’m in Ohlsdorf, at Nathal, at my house.” I
underlined “an hour” twice. Nobody can be enough of a big shot to make
somebody sit for an hour; it’s totally unacceptable.
managed to settle everything nicely with Schaffler in Salzburg. Kaut was on holiday, and so he didn’t get to
see him. Then Thomas told me with a
shameless smile that he had also picked up his three complimentary tickets for
the premiere and that as the secretary was giving them to him she said that
they were very conveniently placed seats from which he’d be able to walk directly
to the stage. They’re still thinking I
might walk onto the stage at the premiere, he said with a sadistic smile. They’ll be surprised when two old ladies are
sitting in your seat, I said and laughed along with him. Then we circled back to talking about
Tinguely the stage designer, and I said: He’s sure to turn up at your house,
because he’ll want to get some pointers from you. You know the ropes; you were an assistant
director there. He’ll cling to you; he’ll realize that you
could do the stage design there. Thomas eased
up a bit and said: Well sure, everything will turn out fine. Then I was sure that he was taking a firm
hand behind the scenes, because he hardly ever invites anybody to his house.
said that tomorrow he was going to be visited by a former girlfriend and her
husband. She was another one of those
women: When things were at their height with her, she suddenly married somebody
else. That happened a few times. Or my girlfriends have suddenly gone away on
a trip abroad; then everything was always suddenly over as well. Ask Aunt Hede; she knows everything; she can
tell you about everything. So far I
haven’t dared do anything like that; I haven’t dared broach such a topic with
her behind your back. Whatever you’ve
wanted to tell me you’ve told me yourself.
Yes, of course, said Thomas, but I don’t want to say anything else about
it myself, but Hede will have to tell you about it.
said that he’d bought an annual pass for the beach with a changing room in
Altmünster and that now he was going to go swimming every day. He said that at the moment he found it
impossible to write. That in September
or October he’d visit the Uexkülls in Brussels and finish writing everything
there. That at the moment he wasn’t in
the right frame of mind for it. He
intended to be writing now. But when he
gets up in the morning, he looks for little changes to make here and there in
the house; he looks for them until he’s got some trivial task to take care of
in the house and doesn’t have to write.
I said: It would have surprised me if you could write well now, because
of course nothing’s forcing you to. If
you’re not supposed to have finished the book until November, you’ll probably
have to knock off a few weeks without interruption in October, because then you
won’t even taste a bite of food; then you’ll be thinking of nothing but
writing. You need the time-pressure;
otherwise it doesn’t go properly.
4:00 we’d finished our walk, and Thomas said that he’d rather drive straight
home; that a break wouldn’t be good, because then he’d prefer just to sit
around longer, but he doesn’t want to do that.
Sunday, Thomas came to see me at 9pm. We
hadn’t seen each other in three days. We
had just switched on the mystery show Flotsam
and Jetsam right away; Thomas sat down for an hour to watch that. He wanted to say something, but the show’s
trivial scenes didn’t quite suffice for comment, and so Thomas said that he’d
just come from the Krucka, that the arnica was in full bloom again, and that we
should be sure to pick the arnica in the next few days, that otherwise it would
be too late. Naturally as soon as Thomas
entered I turned the set down so that I could speak with Thomas, but my wife
was glued to the set, so we restrained ourselves. After the end of the show Thomas stood up and
left immediately. This was at about
10:00. I walked him to his car and said
that we should visit Peymann right away, that he should already have arrived in
Pfaffstätt. Certainly not, said Thomas;
it’ll be better if we wait a few days.
At 4pm I ran
into Thomas in Gmunden, on am Graben. I
told him that I had been expecting him on Monday, meaning yesterday, because
Monday has always been one of our surest days.
Yes, said Thomas, so I’ve got to tell you something good. Yesterday I was at Pfaffstätt at nine in the
evening. Not a trace of Peymann or Ganz. Mrs. Bamberger has already holed herself up
in a room and prepared all the rooms for the guests. But no postcards; there hasn’t been a word
from them, and they simply haven’t come.
All the while she’s being such a nice lady. I said to Thomas: Peymann just can’t do that,
pocket 20,000 DM and promise six weeks of rehearsals. Then he deserves to have a few hundred marks
taken back from him for every day. In
the next contract you’ll put all your demands in writing and stipulate a
penalty for each rehearsal day; then something like this won’t happen anymore. I won’t accept Peymann anymore anyhow, said
Thomas. Next time everything’s going to
be completely different again. If I know
Ganz, he’s surely studied his role well, and we’ll have to wait and see;
perhaps they’ve already finished rehearsing in Berlin. In Hamburg the rehearsals are going fine;
they’re practicing the handholds on cadavers there, and the actor is performing
operations on cadavers to practice for the play.
haven’t told you everything that had already happened by the time I saw you on
Sunday, said Thomas. Tinguely the stage
designer had already stopped by to see me twice, and on Sunday, before I came
to see you, a friend of my mother’s from Holland visited me at the Krucka. Because she didn’t find me at Nathal, she
followed me to the Krucka in the company of two Dutchwomen. But then she lost her way; she came up to the
Grasberg and then came down from there to me just when I was about to leave; of
course by then it was already very late.
And so I promised the old lady—she’s 64 and hasn’t seen me since I was
12—that I’d visited her in Holland on my way to Brussels. You see, she’s my mother’s friend from
Henndorf, Anna [recte Aloisia] Ferstl,
who was in Holland back then and on account of whom my mother went to Holland
when I was coming into the world. She
was her best friend, and I was really delighted that she visited me. She talked as if she had never left Henndorf,
exactly the way they talk in Henndorf.
Her Dutch friends couldn’t understand a word. But it was all very brief; she had to leave
that same evening, and right afterwards I came to see you.
been standing a full half-hour in the street, here in front of the Three
Hoes. I was in Linz today; I’ve got a lot to tell
you about as well. I went shopping in
Wels, and on Friday I’ll be going to Salzburg.
I’ll stop by Pfafstätt then to see whether anybody is there yet. Thomas
consented and said: I got a letter
from Dr. Stern. He writes that the
hearing has been adjourned. Thomas said
that he himself, Dr. Michael Stern, had represented him at the hearing.
That Dr. Stern had written that he had
something to share with him that he couldn’t write about in the letter.
What do you make of that? He’ll want to tell you what you should say
the hearing and what you shouldn’t say.
He doesn’t want to write that in the letter. But of course I don’t plan
on being at the
hearing, said Thomas. You won’t be able
to avoid it, I said. You’ll be
subpoenaed; as the defendant you’ve got to appear in person if the judge
insists on it. Anyway, we’ll talk
further in the evening, I said, because I’ve still got a few things to
afterwards I couldn’t help wondering why Thomas was telling me about everything
in such detail. He mentioned the name of
the stage designer, an Italian name, several times; I couldn’t manage not to
forget it [the sculptor Jean Tinguely was Swiss]. Specifically it occurred to me that when I’d left
the living room a few days ago, when I came back in, Thomas was standing next
to my planning calendar and gazing very unconvincingly at the old newspaper. When he saw the subject headings St.
Wolfgang, Altöting, Burghausen, Mattighofen, and Fool’s License, Thomas figured
out that I’d been taking notes. Now it
occurs to me that he must secretly be taking an interest in that, and I’m also
reminded that he said: Ask Aunt Hede what happened with my girlfriends; she
knows everything. But on the other hand,
as long as we’ve known each other Thomas has told me about everything. Like about how on New Year’s Eve in Grundlsee,
Dahlke the film actor wanted to shoot him dead over a German princess, or about
the whippings of Zuckmayer’s daughter, etc., so I may be very much mistaken
here. I’m more inclined to think there
will be a “news blackout” if Thomas has figured out that I’m writing everything
minutes to seven, Thomas comes with Agi.
Agi and Thomas met up with each other in front of the courtyard gate at
Nathal. Pinned to the gate was a note
from President Maleta informing Thomas that he was on his way to the Krucka
with his wife because he hadn’t found him here at Nathal. Because Thomas was in no mood to get together
with the Maletas today, he immediately asked Agi to come to my house with him. Agi’s got her mother, Baroness Handl, in the
hospital in Wels, and there she ran into Peter, Thomas’s half-brother. He told her that in February Thomas had shown
him out of his house very, very rudely.
Then Agi plucked up the courage to visit Thomas again, and so they met
up in front of the gate. I wasn’t
surprised that Thomas was on good terms with Agi again, because after the
scandal with the Münchner Abendblatt
he said to me: I’m going to let Agi “air out” until the summer. So Agi picked the right time, because the
first day of summer was six days ago.
in a very good mood. After he’d left my
house to go to the coffeehouse in the afternoon, he ran into Mrs. Hufnagl
there. He told me that he’d been trying
to go to the Brandl at a time of day when he’d be least likely to run into Mrs.
Hufnagl, because she keeps talking about getting a divorce again, even though
the Hufnagls got married for the second time only a couple of weeks ago. But as it turned out, said Thomas, Mrs.
Hufnagl came into the Brandl, and he tried to slip away, but she buttonholed
him and said that that afternoon she had been in Salzburg and stopped by the
theater to ask if Peymann was already there.
They told her that Peymann and Ganz and the others would be rehearsing
the whole day. But after everything that
had happened so far she was suspicious; she asked where the rehearsals were
taking place and went there. And Peymann
was actually rehearsing. She saw him
with her own eyes. So now we’re at least
sure that he’s there, said Thomas.
Because if she hadn’t seen him with her own eyes…I wouldn’t have just relied
on the word of somebody at some information desk either.
we moved upstairs to watch the news on television. But as we didn’t
glean anything interesting
from the news, a conversation got started.
Agi said she was planning to invite Thomas with Hede and Peter to her
house so that another reconciliation between Thomas and Peter could take
place. Thomas said: Sure, invite everybody. And turning to my wife he
added softly: I
won’t come and such and such. Then my
wife and Thomas laughed downright maliciously, but they didn’t tell Agi
why they were laughing like that. Only after our guests had left did my
tell me why they’d laughed like that. I
was reminded of what Wieland Schmied had said at one point, and I said
Surely Thomas isn’t mad at Peter about this, because he’s insulted
conversation with Agi was very rough, but friendly. When Thomas again let slip a few negative
remarks about Mrs. Hufnagl, Agi asked: Does he talk about me like this too when
you’re alone? Then I said to Agi: You’ve
got a really thick skin; you can take a joke; we talk with you so bluntly and
critically that there’s nothing more to say behind your back. Shortly before that I had called Agi an
informer several times in allusion to the article in the Münchner Abendblatt and said that I didn’t know that she couldn’t
be trusted to keep a secret, that otherwise I wouldn’t have told her that
Thomas had only sold Kaut the title The
Ignoramus and the Madman and still had to write the play. Thomas
had already upbraided me back then, because he learned right away from her that
I had told her that. Mrs. Hufnagl could
never be attacked as harshly as you are; she wouldn’t be able to take it;
that’s why we talk about her behind her back like this. (Basically I’m glad that his relationship
with the Hufnagls has cooled a great deal and that I’m still not personally
acquainted with O’Donnel and that I’m never present at gatherings of these
circles, because surely nothing good could come of that and Thomas would lose
my house as a place of refuge, a refuge he’d needed once again today to protect
himself from the Maletas, because if they knew me they’d also come to my
Then when the show called What
I Am began and Marianne Koch was on the screen, Thomas said: This
week she was
with a friend of mine who lost his wife, in Nathal. But he wasn’t at
home; she left a note. Thomas said that his friend was very unhappy
and that Marianne Koch consoled him. But then I switched off the set,
Agi was telling some very good Jewish jokes, and we’d stopped paying
to the TV some time earlier. Agi went on
to ask me how many channels I received here; then Thomas loudly chimed
“five.” Agi gaped and asked: Really, that many; what are the channels?
said: “Austrian Channels 1 and 2, German Channel 1, and Thomas in an
accent and in a Bavarian one.” You see,
Thomas had once again said something in a super-broad Bavarian accent.
Everything was very jolly from then on, until
the two of them drove home at 10:30.
June 29, 1972
comes at 9:00 pm.
He says he’ll be leaving right away.
He was in Salzburg today. He had
had lunch at Moser’s wine bar at noon and was then planning to go to see
Peymann, to see the rehearsals. But at
2:00, as he was just about to leave Moser’s wine bar, Peymann and Ganz
in. Then Thomas drove with Peymann and
Ganz to Pfaffstätt and Mattighofen. Mrs.
Peymann hadn’t come from Germany with them.
She has a six-week-old child and is ill.
Peymann and Ganz don’t want to take lodgings in Pfaffstätt because it’s
too far from Salzburg for them. They
rehearse until 2pm; then they’d have to go to Pfaffstätt in order to
go back to the rehearsals at 6pm. Thomas
was of the opinion that only a single round trip per day would be
necessary. Mrs. Bickel and Hermann with
his spouse are expected to arrive tomorrow.
Driving that stretch four times each day is too much for Peymann.
Thomas came to appreciate this. Because he saw that both of them were
rehearsing to the point of exhaustion and that it would be impossible
afterwards to drive so far twice during the breaks. Thomas also says
that Ganz is taking his role
very seriously and has already dissected several brains so that he can
role like a true professional. Because
that’s something his role involves.
Because Granny got back from her vacation in Yugoslavia today,
another subject of the conversation was Yugoslavian vacation spots and towns.
Granny and Thomas know everything. They
sound as if they’d both seen the same movie.
Then the subject inevitably became souvenirs brought back from there,
and even though I instructed Granny not to buy any souvenirs, she still brought
a few knickknacks back. Thomas said: Yes
of course, you can’t help bringing a few things back. But you can get these things at significantly
cheaper prices in the Wollzeile in Vienna.
Whenever Aunt Hede has gotten back from Yugoslavia, I’ve gone to the
Wollzeile and bought the presents from Yugoslavia for her girlfriends.
It had gotten as late as 10:30pm by the time Thomas drove
home. Before that we debated whether or
not I should visit Peymann when I’m in Salzburg this coming Friday.