The Greatest Austrian "Postmodern" Books of All Time

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This list represents a comprehensive and trusted collection of the greatest books. Developed through a specialized algorithm, it brings together 280 'best of' book lists to form a definitive guide to the world's most acclaimed books. For those interested in how these books are chosen, additional details can be found on the rankings page.

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Postmodern

Postmodernism is a literary movement that emerged in the mid-20th century, characterized by a rejection of traditional narrative structures and a focus on self-reflexivity and intertextuality. Postmodern literature often features fragmented narratives, unreliable narrators, and a blurring of the lines between reality and fiction. It is a genre that challenges the notion of a single, objective truth and instead embraces the idea of multiple perspectives and interpretations. Postmodern literature is often seen as a response to the modernist movement that preceded it, and it continues to be a popular and influential category for contemporary writers.

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  1. 1. Correction by Thomas Bernhard

    "Correction" is a complex narrative revolving around the life of a man named Roithamer, a genius obsessed with constructing an architectural masterpiece, the Cone, in the center of the Kobernausser forest. The story is told through the perspective of his friend who is reading Roithamer's notes after his suicide. The novel explores themes of obsession, isolation, and the pursuit of perfection, while also delving into the protagonist's troubled relationships with his family and society.

  2. 2. Woodcutters by Thomas Bernhard

    Woodcutters is a darkly humorous critique of Vienna's artistic elite. The story takes place over the course of a single evening, as the narrator attends a dinner party in honor of a recently successful actor. As the evening progresses, he reflects on the pretentiousness and hypocrisy of the guests, the mediocrity of their artistic achievements, and the tragic suicide of his former lover. The novel is a scathing indictment of the vanity and self-delusion of the artistic community.

  3. 3. Wittgenstein's Nephew by Thomas Bernhard

    "Wittgenstein's Nephew" is a semi-autobiographical novel that explores the friendship between the narrator and his friend Paul, who is the nephew of the famous philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein. The story takes place in Vienna and is set against the backdrop of the Austrian mental health system. The novel delves into themes of sanity, insanity, and the fine line that separates the two, while also offering a critique of Austrian society. It is a meditation on the nature of illness, both physical and mental, and the impact it has on personal relationships and one's perception of the world.

  4. 4. The Last World by Christoph Ransmayr

    "The Last World" is a novel that reimagines the exile of the Roman poet Ovid in a remote village at the edge of the Black Sea. The story is set in a mythical time and place, where the villagers are haunted by strange transformations and echoes of Ovid's metamorphoses. The novel blurs the lines between the real and the imaginary, the past and the present, and the world of the living and the dead, creating a surreal and dreamlike atmosphere.

  5. 5. Concrete by Thomas Bernhard

    The book is a darkly introspective narrative that delves into the mind of a reclusive, obsessive intellectual who is struggling to complete his scholarly work on the composer Mendelssohn. As he grapples with his own ailments and the perceived mediocrity of his surroundings, the protagonist's stream-of-consciousness monologue reveals his deep-seated anxieties, self-loathing, and profound isolation. The narrative is a relentless examination of the protagonist's psyche, showcasing his critical view of society and his own personal relationships, which are fraught with tension and dysfunction. Through this, the novel explores themes of artistic creation, intellectual elitism, and the suffocating nature of expectations and familial obligations.

  6. 6. The Loser by Thomas Bernhard

    "The Loser" is a philosophical novel that revolves around the complex relationship between three friends who are all piano virtuosos. The narrative is driven by the protagonist's obsession with his friend's suicide, which he believes was triggered by the realization that they could never surpass the genius of their third friend. The book delves into the protagonist's psyche as he grapples with themes of talent, ambition, failure, and the destructive power of comparison.

  7. 7. Malina by Ingeborg Bachmann

    This novel delves into the complex inner world of a female protagonist living in Vienna, who is torn between two contrasting loves: one with a passionate, consuming lover, Ivan, and the other with a figure named Malina, embodying stability and intellectual companionship. Set against a backdrop of post-war Austria, the narrative explores themes of identity, gender, and the trauma of history, all while blurring the lines between reality and the protagonist's psychological disintegration. The protagonist's struggle for self-definition and coherence in a fragmented world is central to the story, culminating in a haunting and ambiguous conclusion that challenges the boundaries of narrative and self.

  8. 8. The Children Of The Dead by Elfriede Jelinek

    This novel is a unique and haunting exploration of memory, history, and the legacy of the Holocaust in Austria, presented through a complex narrative that blends elements of horror, satire, and social critique. Set in a stylized and eerie version of the Austrian countryside, the story unfolds around a protagonist who embarks on a journey that intertwines with the lives of the undead, revealing the persistent shadows of World War II and the Holocaust on contemporary society. The narrative's challenging structure, incorporating dense streams of consciousness and a shifting perspective, serves as a vehicle for the author's incisive commentary on issues of national identity, collective memory, and the dangers of forgetting the past. Through its innovative use of language and form, the book confronts readers with the unsettling realities of history's impact on the present, making it a compelling and thought-provoking read.

Reading Statistics

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If you're interested in downloading this list as a CSV file for use in a spreadsheet application, you can easily do so by clicking the button below. Please note that to ensure a manageable file size and faster download, the CSV will include details for only the first 500 books.

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