Ritter, Dene, Voss
8 September 2001
Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989) is one of the most controversial Austrian writers. Dramatist, novelist and poet, he continues to cause disturbance and public unease even years after his death. Very few authors have painted such an inexorable picture of their fellow countrymen and their self-satisfied way of life.
A segment of the life of renowned philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein is the starting point in his drama Ritter, Dene, Voss (1984). Returning from the mental sanatorium to his two hated sisters with whom he lives in a complicated and difficult relationship, the disintegrated Ludwig presents anything but an idealized image of one of the most quoted 20th century philosophers. Denied passions, all sorts of traumas and resentments and above all, an insurmountable feeling of an absence of meaning rage under the surface of bourgeois neatness and tradition. According to basic Wittgenstein philosophy that to keep quiet about issues is far more important than to talk about them, Bernhard’s philosopher is also something of an anti-philosopher, a traumatized sceptic who finds both his freedom and torment in a consistent refusal of the bourgeois mentality and false values along with the objects and rituals which have replaced real life.
Bernhard’s unique language resembles a cascade of words and a swarm of thoughts more than normal dialogue. It does not simply characterize the persons but also express in words all their torments that result from their conflicting interdependence and unfulfilled existence which borders between hatred and incest.
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