Extinction by Thomas Bernhard

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Synopsis

From the late Thomas Bernhard, arguably Austria's most influential novelist of the postwar period, and one of the greatest artists in all twentieth-century literature in the German language, his magnum opus.

Extinction, Bernhard's last work of fiction, takes the form of the autobiographical testimony of Franz-Josef Murau, the intellectual black sheep of a powerful Austrian land-owning family. Murau lives in Rome in self-imposed exile from his family, surrounded by a coterie of artistic and intellectual friends. On returning from his sister's wedding to the "wine-cork manufacturer" on the family estate of Wolfsegg, having resolved never to go home again, Murau receives a telegram informing him of the death of his parents and brother in a car crash. Not only must he now go back, he must do so as the master of Wolfsegg. And he must decide its fate.

Divided into two halves, Extinction explores Murau's rush of memories of Wolfsegg as he stands at his Roman window considering the fateful telegram, in counterpoint to his return to Wolfsegg and the preparations for the funeral itself.

Written in the seamless style for which Bernhard became famous, Extinction is the ultimate proof of his extraordinary literary genius. It is his summing-up against Austria's treacherous past and -- in unprecedented fashion -- a revelation of his own incredibly complex personality, of his relationship with the world in which he lived, and the one he left behind.

A literary event of the first magnitude.
 

About Thomas Bernhard

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Thomas Bernhard was born in Holland in 1931 and grew up in Austria. He studied music at the Akademie Mozarteum in Salzburg. In 1957 he began a second career, as a playwright, poet, and novelist. The winner of the three most distinguished and coveted literary prizes awarded in Germany, he has become one of the most widely translated and admired writers of his generation. He published nine novels, an autobiography, one volume of poetry, four collections of short stories, and six volumes of plays. Thomas Bernhard died in Austria in 1989.
 
Published August 21, 2013 by Vintage. 338 pages
Genres: Literature & Fiction. Fiction

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Kirkus Reviews

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Few humans known to him elicit Murau's admirationthose few include dreamy cousin Alexander and cosmopolitan (deceased) Uncle Georg, a civilizing mentor who shared, as he shaped, his nephew's distaste for bourgeois values.

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Publishers Weekly

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Franz-Josef Murau, the ``reserve heir'' to Wolfsegg manor, savages his native Austria in this caustic fictional memoir distinguished by the late Bernhard's (The Loser) hallmark unparagraphed invective and italicized loathing.

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