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10 thoughts on “Der Untergeher

  1. Bill Kerwin Bill Kerwin says:

    In most of his fictions—including this novella—the Austrian Thomas Bernhard insults everything Austrian In fact Bernhard declared in his will that every one of his literary works in perpetuity must not be printed or presented within the state of Austria or within the geographical boundaries of the present state of Austria whatever that area may in the future be called Yet he never made an attempt to emigrate; he lived in Austria all his lifeBernhard was a man of contradictions and his works The Loser for instance—are full of contradictions too They are filled with solitary characters who spew forth spleen and invective loathing the seediness of everyday life and yet these solitaries are often bound together by some ideal which points beyond pettiness some absolute which both inspires and degrades them In Losers that ideal is musicWhat plot there is is simple In 1953 the unnamed Narrator and the “loser” Wertheimer both advanced students of piano met at the Mozarteum in Salzburg intending to study with Horowitz There one day standing just outside a practice room they heard Glenn Gould playing the Goldberg Variations Although the three become friends the narrator and Wertheimer both knew perfection when they heard it and from that moment their ambition to play serious piano began to die Before the monologue that is The Loser begins the narrator has learned that Wertheimer has committed suicide and he begins to examine—in obsessive detail—the friendship of these three men how both he and Wertheimer were not like Gould and how he himself is not like WertheimerIf you like the bleak humor of Beckett's novels or the rants of the later Ligotti My Work is Not Yet Done comes to mind you will probably like this novella But Bernhard brings a wealth of ironies all his ownI'll end with the novella's first anti Austrian rant this one specifically about Salzburg Salzburg which at bottom is the sworn enemy of all art and culture a cretinous provincial dump with stupid people and cold walls where everything without exception is eventually made cretinousThe town of Salzburg which today is freshly painted in even its darkest corners and is even disgusting than it was twenty eight years ago was and is antagonistic to everything of value in a human being and in time destroys itThe people of Salzburg have always been dreadful like their climate and when I enter the town today not only is my judgment confirmed everything is even dreadfulGlenn was charmed by the magic of this town for three days then he saw that its magic as they like to call it was rotten that basically its beauty is disgusting and that the people living in this disgusting beauty are vulgar The climate of the lower Alps makes for emotionally disturbed people who fall victim to cretinism at a very early age and who in time become malevolent I said


  2. WILLIAM2 WILLIAM2 says:

    Well here we are again in the land of obsessive compulsive disorder suicidal rage and death panic It's like Bernhard has one channel and one channel only sturm und drang but without the post Enlightenment restraint How did Richard Hugo put it hatred of the various grays the mountain sends Bernhard's satirical narrators are against everything especially mountains in this case the Alps nature people society art any and all institutions the church the state you name it No culture usually Austrian can have a single redemptive aspect in its favor One might think 'Oh the mountain air is great I love to hike Might take in a movie later' For Bernhard's characters there can be no such trivial daily existence If we do hear about it it's acidly deprecated Death is inevitable; birth was never asked for One is simply hurled into the existence machine by one's parents probably drunk at the time How dare they subject one to life and death They should be put up against a wall and shot If there's humor in Bernhard it's of the gallows variety Whistling in the graveyard Bernhard's novels are voice novels not surprising for a playwright his other literary stronghold They are almost entirely interior monologues with little or no description Almost always one ranting narrator pent up unloads as if from a stage This can be entertaining but the cumulative effect is gloom You can't get intimate with Bernhard as you would say with Styron That's how consuming his negativity is Like a horrific spectacle from which one cannot avert one's eyes Bernhard may be a complete original I'm not sure but take heed His art is dark blackened by madness numbing like opium


  3. Vit Babenco Vit Babenco says:

    Loser is an irrational tale told by an irrational man about his irrational friend – a triumph of paranoiaThe so called intellectual consumes himself in what he considers pathbreaking work and in the end has only succeeded in making himself ridiculous whether he’s called Schopenhauer or Nietzsche it doesn’t matter even if he was Kleist or Voltaire we still see a pitiful being who has misused his head and finally driven himself into nonsense Who’s been rolled over and passed over by history We’ve locked up the great thinkers in our bookcases from which they keep staring at us sentenced to eternal ridiculeIs madness a cacophony? Or is it a harmony? Does music ruin musicians? It had already destroyed so many


  4. Steven Godin Steven Godin says:

    Did Thomas Bernhard ever get to say a good word about anyone? He could have been pulled from a car wreck by a fellow Austrian only to turn to the hero in uestion and with resentment become oppressive Regardless I just love reading him the structure of his work is different to say the least one long paragraph repeated sentences treating his characters as frivolous morans who do nothing but complain I take my hat of to him he makes me laugh and wince at the same time The I read of him the I want to read of him I would have gladly bought him a beer but still would have felt a bit on edge in his company whilst at the table The Loser goes about in a humorous and absurd way of exploring the universal experience of encountering someone better than you in an activity that prior to the encounter you felt you were sitting at the head of the table as top dog Some people walk away from such an experience somewhat chastened and then chalk it up as a normal part of life to simply brush under the carpet with the dust dead spiders and crumbs of food In other words they move on forget it Other people hang themselves from a tree outside their sister’s home We have three aspiring concert pianists Glenn Gould drawn from real life an Austrian pianist named Wertheimer the notional protagonist and the unnamed narrator who become friends in 1953 in Salzburg while studying piano with the great Horowitz Wertheimer and the narrator have dedicated their lives to becoming piano virtuosos but one day they chance to overhear Gould playing Bach's Goldberg Variations and his genius destroys them Gould gracelessly adds insult to injury by calling Wertheimer a loser thus Wertheimer is the loser of the novel's title It is this fact that these two cannot seem to reconcile  one uits the piano altogether and the other just can't be bothered with existingBernhard doesn't treat his characters that would have us believe these men are artists with a higher meaning and sensibility than we mere mortals  he loves playing in anyway he sees fit to turn even the highbrows in bumbling fools It's difficult to feel sympathetic with anyone but that's the Bernhard way you either love it or you don't With Bernhard there really isn't a middle ground to plonk your derrière down on Above all he is ironic and the reader can never be sure whether Bernhard means what he says or is larking around with us His central characters generally contradict themselves digress fall into hyperbolic rants obsess trapped as it were in a logorrheic paralysis For anyone looking for plot forget it in a ways nothing really happens for over a hundred pages Bernhard emphasizes the narrator's act of thinking and not acting it's all about the mind and not the physicalities It's important to recognize that Bernhard's texts are dense with a kind of rhetorical elaboration that it is possible to analyze much of the text as a regurgitated string uartet playing away in such a way that a certain amount of material is made to vibrate and echo from sentence to sentence and page to page making one feel ueasy The novel is fueled by a peculiar intensity and his uniue prose style infused with a venomous extreme bitterness is something that simply seeps into one's consciousness with no intention of leaving any time soon My second Bernhard in a couple of weeks For me this just wasn't uite as good as the other Wittgenstein's NephewBut still a solid 45


  5. Michael Michael says:

    Bernhard is amazing and this book perfectly captures his obsession with obsession His narrator is a music student who realizes he's a failure when he Glenn Gould and another pianist study together and nobody can hold a candle to Gould the supreme genius It's told in Bernhard's inimitable style as one long rambling looping paragraph that takes ideas and beholds them from several angles all the while maintaining a relentless energy that just takes my breath away


  6. Megha Megha says:

    A single paragraph One breathless monologue Genius Failure Perfection Obsession Friendship Death The Genius the Philosopher the Loser The musical genius of Glenn Gould the pinnacle of art is what serves as the reference defining all three of their lives Werthemier the titular Loser finds himself woefully dwarfed by the perfection of Gould as a piano artist The frustration of recognizing his worthlessness and knowing that he will never be able to reach the top leads him to give up his piano career And this failure haunts him for the rest of his life In his bitter obsession he gradually advances on a path of self destruction The manner in which he commits suicide comes as a last ditch effort to do something on his own terms a desperate act of rebel against his life of failureThe narrator the philosopher is similarly humiliated in his musical aspirations Unlike Werthemier he does manage to push the frustration to the back of his mind But he never does come out of Gould's shadow He never finds a new direction to his life and spends years writing an rewriting and essay on Gould Through this internal monologue in a distraught and obsessive manner the narrator attempts to come to terms with the deaths of both Gould and Werthemier His whole life can only be defined in terms of the relationship of this trio and he realizes that their deaths automatically render his life void of any meaning In the process he also appears to decisively arrive at the conclusion that Werthemier's fate was sealed the moment Gould tagged him as the Loser Clocks having been set in motion then Werthemier's suicide was inevitable And thus the narrator unburdens himself in knowing that there is nothing he could have done to avoid the suicide We often find the narrator pointing out similar characteristics between himself and Gould self delusion? which clearly set Werthemier apart from the two While he admits to portraying Werthemier unfavorably this portrayal also provides him with a way to assure himself that he was not headed down the same path as Werthemier It really was Werthemier's own personality that he fell victim to The relationship that the three share begs the uestion what if their paths hadn't crossed with Gould? Perhaps they would have still led a life of being nothing Gould simply being the excuse they found However their lives are so heavily clouded by that of Gould that it seems impossible to even begin to imagine Gould's absence This relationship was rooted in their common idea and understanding of music and it forged a lifelong bond between the three The intellect of the two the loser and the philosopher was also responsible for their failure Because it takes some acumen to even recognize a genius and be aware of one's own abilities and deficiencies On the other hand I cannot factor their wealth out of the euation either These are two people who do not have to worry about earning a living and thus have the privilege to spend their lives fixated on just one idea Had that not been the case sooner or later the basic necessities of life would have pulled their attention away and forced them to do something with their lives and perhaps lead a life of being good enough but not the bestThe novel ends with an interesting afterword that throws some light on Bernhard's life and his writing His later novels including The Loser contain characters which carry an image of the author in themselves In the present case Gould is meant to be doppelganger for Bernhard Bernhard having studied music his writing has been informed by music as well The afterword compares his writing to Gould's musicHere it is Bach's Goldberg variations played by Glenn Gould that provides as it were the basso continuo for Bernhard's own deliberately droning repetitions and variations With the monologistic uninterrupted flow of its sentences the novel conjures up the image of a singer fighting to sustain his breath to the end of an impossibly long embellished ariaAnother well known aspect of Bernhard's personality was his hatred for his country Austria Not only did he face multiple controversies while alive he delivered a parting blow in death as wellWhatever I have written whether published by me during my lifetime or as part of my literary papers still existing after my death shall not be performed printed or even recited for the duration of legal copyright within the borders of Austria however this state identifies itself This parting slap in the face of his native country thus came not only as a surprise; it came from the hand of a dead man whose laughter rang out from the grave


  7. Garima Garima says:

    everything is ridiculous if one thinks of death This is what Bernhard said as a part of his acceptance speech for the Austrian State Prize for Literature So Yeah That’s the kind of man he was Along with many other writers I discovered Bernhard through Goodreads only The next step is usually checking out the author’s profile from where I found the following description Thomas Bernhard was an Austrian author who ranges among the most distinguished German speaking writers of the second half of the 20th centuryIt doesn’t convey much with its minimalistic approach but I got some idea His influences wereSamuel Beckett Fyodor Dostoyevsky Johann Wolfgang von Goethe Franz KafkaThose are some good influences Right Next I went through the average ratings of his books and to my pleasant surprise majority of them have than 4 point rating but again the no of ratings are not that great ie not many readers on Goodreads read him that much and The Loser seems to be the most popular among all his books What Else? Yes I analysed his profile picture and went to Google images to see some of his photos Now I don’t know why but I convinced myself that he had the perfect face to feature in a Gangster Hollywood Movie you know like Public Enemies in a negative role or along the same lines but anything but positive And at the end I read one of his uotes “Instead of committing suicide people go to work” I la—u—gghh hahahalike crazy Voices in my head “Stop this nonsense and start the bloody Review”With this novel Thomas Bernhard appears hell bent to annoy his readers and therefore one needs to be an eually determined reader to get on with this book which with a little effort can be easily achieved but cherish? I’m not sure about that Whenever I pick up a book I try not to have any pre conceived notions about it and assume that I’ll have a good time reading it coz I won’t deliberately waste my time on some rubbish So with The Loser also I hardly had any idea what I’m getting myself into I came across this description which I found baffling but couldn’t help agree with it after finishing this book “Reading Bernhard feels like the children's superstition of holding one's breath in a car while passing a cemetery He allows his reader no time to breathe driving home the moments of intense disappointment and disgust “ The loser is one long monologue without any paragraph breaks which seems to be a sadist move from Bernhard’s side because such breaks are a kind of breather a reader relish but you really don’t have a chance while reading this book so all one can do is to satisfy oneself with little time breaks TRY NOT TO READ THIS BOOK IN ONE GO This book gave me maximum déjà vu moments per page and for at least 1st ten pages I was like wait haven’t I read this before but soon realised this is how the whole text going to be carried on two steps forward one step back and at times several steps sideways also So basically no adherence to the conventions of writing as such and well that’s what Bernhard is known for The author won’t let you bother your senses too much on story front It’s pretty simple and is stated in clear words at the starting only You see that description given with the novel The Loser centers on a fictional relationship between piano virtuoso Glenn Gould and two of his fellow students who feel compelled to renounce their musical ambitions in the face of Gould's incomparable geniusit actually sums it all up perfectly So you really don’t need to be worried about What’s going on? But rather Why is it going on and why am I reading this and why oh why Bernhard wrote something of this sorts? I really don’t have an answer to any of those uestions but all I know is somehow I enjoyed the discomfort this book caused I came across a graffiti pic today that said Art should comfort the disturbed and disturb the comfortable and immediately my first thought was Bernhard One really takes pleasure in knowing the ascension of a Genius but what about those Losers who were born as a result of the existence of such Genius A painter painting somewhere thought about Picasso and uit his art a writer writing his debut novel thought about Dostoevsky and uit his writing I thinking right now of Ian Graye’s reviews and Naaah I’m shameless I won’t uit and Wertheimer on hearing Glenn Gould playing Goldberg Variations which are pretty awesome BTW gave up his musical ambitions of becoming a Piano Virtuoso despite of being really good but not the best Alas The Loser is one long disoriented languid musings by an unnamed narrator who was a fellow student with Gould and Wertheimer at a class taught by Vladimir Horowitz He recalls in a schizophrenic fashion he used I Thought I said I thought and I said to myself n no of times so that’s schizophrenic for me about the relationships of 3 of them and how the Genius of Gould affected both of them after they heard him playing Piano If piano playing was a metaphorical place of Worship then Gould became a kind of God for them from that day on and everything he did henceforth had catastrophic conseuences especially for Wertheimer My dear loser Glenn greeted Wertheimer with his Canadian American cold bloodedness he always called him the loser he called me uite dryly the philosopher which didn’t bother me” And Wertheimer became the ultimate loser because Gould confirmed his fears about the same and couldn’t shun that image until his suicide which became the only thing he did without any external influence with a feeling that “at least I can decide how I’m gonna die” Why Suicide? Because Glenn died a natural death and for once Wertheimer didn’t have to die in the same fashion He became loser in front of Gould’s Genius and couldn’t do anything else because being a Piano Virtuoso is all he wanted he was a failure at everything else even at his relationship with his sister which is one of the high points for me in this novel it’s really disgusting and on top of that he was filthy rich so he didn’t have to bother about economic aspect of life Our narrator was also a Loser but of lesser degree he was not suicidal and survived to ponder upon the deaths and lives of two of his friends He was the Philosopher who philosophized everything Glenn and Wertheimer did to get over his loss I hated Glenn every moment loved him at the same time with the utmost consistency For there’s nothing terrible than to see a person so magnificent that his magnificence destroys us and we must observe this process and put up with it and finally and ultimately also accept it whereas we actually don’t believe such a process is happening far from it until it becomes an irrefutable fact I thought when it’s too late All three characters according to the wonderful afterword by Mark M Anderson also the translator of this book under the pseudonym Jack Dawson are reflections of Thomas Bernhard himself He took the idea of Gould of being a genius and a rebel the unnamed character possibly reflected Bernhard’s own insecurities and failures Wertheimer however is possibly modeled after Ludwig Wittgenstein And Boy he really did hate his native country hadn't been able to even imagine returning to Vienna in these three years and hadn't thought about it either never again to Vienna that profoundly despised city to Austria that profoundly despised countrySo Yes It’s a pseudo auto biographical account of Bernhard’s own life and general reflections of what it is to be A Genius A Loser A Philosopher or a Human Being in the God forsaken circumstances Read it at your own risk I won’t really recommend it especially during festive season but it seems a perfect candidate of being a 5 starrer or a one starrer For me it's a 35 star


  8. Seemita Seemita says:

    Grey – The color that most of the characters created during large part of twentieth century and whole of twenty first century till date are painted in Cruelly banishing the evergreen Black and all star White to secondary positions Grey has risen in ranks to be the heroic hue of all ‘famous’ characters The modern reader in me haughtily merges this contemporary thought into her conversations and discusses the ‘grey’ shades of the latest literary protagonist she has encountered But the conventional reader in me? Oh she curses Throws slang moans hoarse To all those authors who wiped the clear unambiguous White read good and Black read bad from her book world she casts a teary eye and howls a simple uestion Why?The premise of The Loser is an intriguing one Three youngsters join a renowned music academy to learn piano Glenn a born genius simply uses the school to sharpen his existing incredible musical teeth Wertheimer is a truck load of talent too enough to prevail over most of the piano playing community around him but nowhere near Glenn's magnificence The third student who is also our unnamed narrator is in the same lustrous league as Wertheimer and at the same subjacent stand to Glenn Fast forward twenty eight years Glenn and Wertheimer are dead and our unnamed narrator having attended the latter’s funeral is on his way to the latter’s last abode in search of some aphorism notes And some base choreography of his only friends' life trancesThe story began well concisely drawing an unshapely circle around its characters as if a hand was either shivering or consciously teasing during the entwining exercise Then a solid tangent was drawn from a vantage point in the book where all the characters had rushed in to create the richest pool of their natural shades a point where Glenn had donned the recluse's garb Wertheimer had submerged in pools of pungent losses and our narrator had mastered the oscillations between insipid and not so insipid days On this tangential thought I rejoiced and braced myself for a ride of a lifetime Well the ride controller had other plansThe characters depicted the darker gloomier sides of human mind with panache and incisive depth Their dilemmas their failures their disdains all found evocative voices of the finest baritone But what about those occasional sunny streaks? Agreed Bernhard felt they held no merit in his work but does not the sheer veracity of a diary chronicling a lifetime of three men demand few positive scribblings as footnotes? Fleeting thoughts that infused some fragrance into the ailing minds that managed to live beyond fifty years each? While I had empathy for all the three as they possessed no massive blemishes on their hearts I could not warm upto them for they bordered on the sunshine but never bothered to usher it in even through the doors of unhappiness and dry humor They basked in unhappiness way too much and I felt rashes on my skin unexpectedly The Loser is a tag Glenn gives Wertheimer on the first day of their meeting But I could not help but wonder why Wertheimer was a loser in his suicide and Glenn was not in his exile? Or for that matter our narrator in his directionless transit?With The Loser Bernhard presents his fellowship in Advanced Grey mmar The characters appeared all ‘grey’ to me meaning I could sit in a theatre watch them act clap in applause and not leave before the final scene but also not reward them with a standing ovation and take them home after the act is over It was like a fabulous soprano which reached its crescendo during the first half and all I did afterwards was search its mellifluous vibrations in the rest of the piece I have never admired anything but have marvelled at many things during my life and I can say have marvelled the most in my life I did marvel at Bernhard though Written entirely in one single paragraph unfolding mostly within the troubled walls of the narrator’s mind the reading pattern alone was a striking experience Repetitive yet fresh discoloured yet brilliant his style was the strong ribs of his unusual plot As if a person was sitting across me and narrating his life’s mistakes and while I wanted to chide him for his stupidities I ended up ordering a few cups of coffees in the greed of pushing him to a point where he might mend somethingBernhard once said on his writing “To shake people up that’s my real pleasure” He succeeded


  9. Lea Lea says:

    “But of course the world consists only of absurd ideas” What a soul piercing read After I finished The Loser by Thomas Bernhard I thought this is how you write a book Or well a long internal monologue that rambles on and on without any pauses It’s simply amazing satire with a lot of absurdism nihilism and self destructiveness narrated in one breath “All my tendencies are deadly ones he once said to me everything in me has a deadly tendency to it it's in my genes as Wertheimer said I thought He always read books that were obsessed with suicide with disease and death I thought while standing in the inn books that described human misery the hopeless meaningless senseless world in which everything is always devastating and deadly That's why he especially loved Dostoevsky and all his disciples Russian literature in general because it actually is a deadly literature but also the depressing French philosophers”But even that word view is mocked because it’s a sign of social and economic privilege “She herself had never had enough money and never enough time and hadn’t even been unhappy once in contrast to those she called refined gentlemen who always had enough money and enough time and constantly talked about their unhappiness ”It touches on topics that really occupied me throughout life art obsession the meaning of success and failure narrow mindedness of all social classes There is a great charm in how Bernhard deals with subjects of giving up loss of ambition hatred of virtuosity jealousy and also the painful realization that you don’t want in life what you thought you wanted for a very long time “When we meet the very best we have to give up”“He wanted to be an artist an artist of life wasn't enough for him although precisely this concept provides everything we need to be happy if we think about it” Three characters one of them witty narrator of the story were studying to be the piano virtuosos but only one of them was really genius so the other two gave up on their ambitions and dreams I read somewhere that the three characters can be analyzed as an Ego narrator Id Wertheimer and Superego Glenn which is such an interesting approach that I will have on mind when I come back to this novel and I would like to analyze them in detail there is so much material to be contemplated upon in this 180 pages long novel and I might write a longer review in the future I haven’t liked somebody writing like this since Virginia Woolf and Dostoyevsky truly superb It is not even that I intellectually agree with everything Bernhard writes nihilistic pessimistic and fatalistic fellow readers definitely would enjoy his thinking on the highest level but it somehow resonates with me and shakes my soul like a true piece of art that challenges you to see the world differently and wake up from your usual delusions “In theory we understand people but in practice we can't put up with them I thought deal with them for the most part reluctantly and always treat them from our point of view We should observe and treat people not from our point of view but from all angles I thought associate with them in such a way that we can say we associate with them so to speak in a completely unbiased way which however isn't possible since we actually are always biased against everybody” I definitely think I will read so much of his work I’m completely in awe Highly recommend to everyone


  10. Lee Klein Lee Klein says:

    Funnier and nastier and less full of shit than anything I've ever read More laughs per ten pages than Sedaris etc but with WAY MORE suicide Awesome Austrian lit Glenn Gould the one true piano genius One paragraph for 155 pages Zero pretension Few sentences extended over the course of the book in fugue state Sort of like lame ass literary fiction if you removed every standard literary convention plot dialogue setting scenes and just freakin' mainlined the narrator's consciousness I remember Marilynne Robinson a Bach lover same as Wertheimer same as Glenn Gould saying no writers really represent human as opposed to alien? ant? consciousness and I was like what about Tommy B and she was all like dunno never read 'em and I was like yo well pick up The Loser Plus again you'll laugh out loud LOL like 12 times which isn't a bad number for a book about encountering a true piano genius Glenn Gould and either uitting piano the narrator or killing yourself Wertheimer Highly recommended to all people who are looking for something a little bit different formally and maybe also totally awesome thematically HEFT FACTOR HIGH BUT WITH LOTS O' LEVITY


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Der Untergeher ❴PDF / Epub❵ ✅ Der Untergeher Author Thomas Bernhard – Thomashillier.co.uk Thomas Bernhard was one of the most original writers of the twentieth century His formal innovation ranks with Beckett and Kafka his outrageously cantankerous voice recalls Dostoevsky but his gift for Thomas Bernhard was one of the most original writers of the twentieth century His formal innovation ranks with Beckett and Kafka his outrageously cantankerous voice recalls Dostoevsky but his gift for lacerating lyrical provocative prose is incomparably his own One of Bernhard's most acclaimed novels The Loser centers on a fictional relationship between piano virtuoso Glenn Gould and two of his fellow students who feel compelled to renounce their musical ambitions in the face of Gould's incomparable genius One commits suicide while the other the obsessive witty and self mocking narrator has retreated into obscurity Written as a monologue in one remarkable unbroken paragraph The Loser is a brilliant meditation on success failure genius and fame From the Trade Paperback edition.

  • Hardcover
  • 189 pages
  • Der Untergeher
  • Thomas Bernhard
  • English
  • 06 March 2016
  • 9780394572390

About the Author: Thomas Bernhard

Thomas Bernhard was an Austrian author who ranks among the most distinguished German speaking writers of the second half of the th centuryAlthough internationally he's most acclaimed because of his novels he was also a prolific playwright His characters were oftenly working in a lifetime and never ending major work while they deal with themes such as suicide madness and obsession and as Be.