Secondary Literature on Thomas Bernhard

There are lesser books than I imagined about Bernhard, the reader thought after googling for thirty minutes.


  • Calandra, Denis (1983). New German Dramatists: A Study of Peter Handke, Franz Xaver Kroetz, Rainer Werner Fassbinder, Heiner Müller, Thomas Brasch, Thomas Bernhard and Botho Strauss, Palgrave.
  • Dowden, Stephen D. (1991). Understanding Thomas Bernhard, University of South Carolina Press.
  • Weiss, Gernot (1993). Auslöschung der Philosophie: Philosophiekritik bei Thomas Bernhard, Königshausen u. Neumann.
  • Martin, Charles W. (1995). The Nihilism Of Thomas Bernhard: The portrayal of existential and social problems in his prose works, Brill Rodopi.
  • Wulf, Catharina (1996). The Imperative of Narration: Beckett, Bernard, Schopenhauer, Lacan, Sussex Academic Press.
  • Niccolini, Elisabetta (2000). Der Spaziergang des Schriftstellers: Lenz von Georg Büchner, Der Spaziergang von Robert Walser Gehen von Thomas Bernhard, J. B. Metzler.
  • Konzett, Matthias (2000). The Rhetoric of National Dissent in Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke, and Elfriede Jelinek, Camden House.
  • Honegger, Gitta (2001). Thomas Bernhard: The Making of an Austrian, Yale University Press.
  • Long, J. J. (2001). The novels of Thomas Bernhard: form and its function, Camden House.
  • Konzett, Matthias (ed.) (2002). A Companion to the Works of Thomas Bernhard, Boydell & Brewer.
  • Frederick, Samuel (2012). Narratives Unsettled: Digression in Robert Walser, Thomas Bernhard, and Adalbert Stifter, Northwestern University Press.
  • Reinert, Bastian & Götze, Clemens (2019). Elfriede Jelinek und Thomas Bernhard: Intertextualität – Korrelationen – Korrespondenzen, De Gruyter.
  • Berwald, Olaf (ed.), Dowden Stephen D. (ed.) & Thuswaldner, Gregor (ed.) (2020). Thomas Bernhard’s Afterlives, Bloomsbury.
  • Fabjan, Peter (2021). Ein Leben an der Seite von Thomas Bernhard: Ein Rapport, Suhrkamp.


On ‘Walking’ (Gehen), 1971

Glossary: The Weird and the Eerie by Mark Fisher

Mark Fisher’s 2016 book The Weird and the Eerie traces these two concepts in popular literature and film with the help of other popular psychological and literary concepts. If one wants to read a more theoretical and hard-to-read book that focuses on a similar terrain that has examples from deeper cultural works, they can take a look at Julia Kristeva’s Powers of Horror: An Essay on Abjection, I haven’t been able to read all of it yet.

Fisher, while giving references to the cultural content, likes to wander around the plots in couple of pages instead of briefly mentioning the content and building around it, an approach that Žižek aces. These long passages retelling the books and films that I haven’t read or seen made the book a bit less catchy for me. Nonetheless, since I know I will forget all these details in couple of days, I thought I can take notes for some of the mentioned works in their contexts so that I can come back in a distant time in the future.

The Weird and the Eerie (Beyond the Unheimlich)

  • Freud’s concept of the unheimlich
  • Displacement of the unheimlich by the eerie in D.M. Thomas’ novel The White Hotel
  • The soothsaying witches in Macbeth


The Out of Place and the Out of Time: Lovecraft and the Weird

  • Lovecraft, The Shadow over Innsmouth
  • Lovecraft’s work does not fit the structuralist definition of fantasy offered by Tzvetan Todorov
  • Arguing why Lovecraft doesn’t fit to fantastic, against the book Lovecraft: A Study in the Fantastic by Maurice Lévy
  • Notes on Writing Weird Fiction by Lovecraft
  • Other examples of egress: C.S. Lewis’ Narnia books, Baum’s Oz, Stephen Donaldson’s Thomas Covenant trilogy
  • The Colour Out of Space and The Shadow Out of Time: being out of
  • China Miéville’s introduction to At the Mountains of Madness
  • Erich von Däniken and Graham Hancock
  • Freud, Beyond the Pleasure Principle & Civilization and its Discontents
  • Call of Cthulhu by Lovecraft: abnormal, non-Euclidean, and loathsomely redolent of spheres and dimensions apart from ours
  • The Unnameable by Lovecraft
  • Similarities with Tolkien
  • Postmodernist fictions of Robbe-Grillet, Pynchon and Borges
  • Necronomicon
  • Cthulhu mythos authors: August Derleth, Clark Ashton Smith, Robert E. Howard, Brian Lumley, Ramsey Campbell and many others have written tales of the Cthulhu mythos

The Weird Against the Worldly: H.G. Wells

  • H.G. Wells’ short story The Door in the Wall
  • a surrealist painting by Delvaux or Ernst
  • Randolph Carter Silver Key stories
  • Gateways: Lovecraftian stories of the Marvel Comics character Doctor Strange, David Lynch, Richard Matheson’s The Incredible Shrinking Man, Narnia in C.S. Lewis’ stories
  • Freud’s essay on Screen Memory
  • Michel Houellebecq on Lovecraft: Against the World, Against Life

Body a tentacle mess: The Grotesque and The Weird: The Fall

  • A quote from Patrick Parrinder on James Joyce
  • post-punk group The Fall, City Hobgoblins (1980), Grotesque (After the Gramme) (1980), Impression of J Temperance, alluding to Jarry’s Ubu Roi, Hex Enduction Hour (1982)
    • The N.W.R.A.: like Lovecraft’s “Call of Cthulhu” re-written by the Joyce of Ulysses and compressed into ten minutes
    • Jawbone and the Air Rifle:  a tissue of allusions to texts such as M.R. James’ tales “A Warning to the Curious” and “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad”, to Lovecraft’s The Shadow over Innsmouth, to Hammer Horror, and to The Wicker Man — culminating in a psychedelic/psychotic breakdown, complete with a torch-wielding mob of villagers
    • Iceland: Nico’s The Marble Index, Twilight of the Idols for the retreating hobgoblins, cobolds and trolls of Europe’s receding weird culture

Caught in the Coils of Ouroboros: Tim Powers

  • The Anubis Gates by Tim Powers
    • rhizomic under-London that is part Oliver Twist, part Burroughs’ The Western Lands
    • fictional poet Ashbless
    • Like his unhappier time-displaced fellow, Jack Torrance in The Shining

Simulations and Unworlding: Rainer Werner Fassbinder and Philip K. Dick

  • Welt am Draht (World on a Wire)
  • Daniel F. Galouye’s science fiction novel Simulacron-3
  • Tarkovsky’s take on SF in Solaris and Stalker
  • Philip K. Dick adaptations
  • Inception
  • Philip K. Dick’s Time Out of Joint
    • a scene in which Edward Hopper seems to devolve into Beckett

Curtains and Holes: David Lynch

  • Mulholland Drive, Inland Empire, Blue Velvet, Twin Peaks
  • Magritte’s This Is Not a Pipe


Approaching the Eerie

  • abandoned ship the Marie Celeste
  • Planet of the Apes (1968)

Something Where There Should Be Nothing: Nothing Where There Should Be Something: Daphne du Maurier and Christopher Priest

  • Daphne du Maurier’s The Birds (1952), Hitchcock’s adaptation (1963)
  • George Romero’s Night of the Living Dead (1968)
  • Daphne du Maurier’s Don’t Look Now (1971) Nicolas Roeg’s adaptation (1973)
  • Christopher Priest’s novels The Affirmation (1981) and The Glamour (1984)

On Vanishing Land: M.R. James and Eno

  • Fisher’s work with Justin Barton, On Vanishing Land
  • H.G. Wells’ Martian Tripods (The War of the Worlds)
  • Philip Kaufman’s 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers
  • Another way of marking the beginning and ending of our journey into the eerie is by thinking about two figures: M.R. James and Brian Eno
    • James:  “Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad” (1904), “A Warning to the Curious” (1925)
    • Eno: Ambient 4: On Land (1982) – an “aural counterpart” to Fellini’s Amarcord (1973)
  • Jonathan Miller’s adaptation: Oh, Whistle, and I’ll Come to You, My Lad (1968)

Eerie Thanatos: Nigel Kneale and Alan Garner

  • Kneale’s Quatermass and the Pit (1958-1959) and The Stone Tape (1972)
    • Kubrick’s 2001: A Space Odyssey, J.G. Ballard’s The Drowned World (1962)
  • Kneale’s Quatermass serial (1979)
    • Tubeway Army’s Replicas, Joy Division’s Unknown Pleasures instead of Star Wars and Close Encounters of the Third Kind
    • barricaded streets inspired by Baader Meinhof and the Red and Angry Brigades
    • Jeff Nuttall’s Bomb Culture (1968)
    • Eerie children’s programme from 1976, Children of the Stones
  • Alan Garner’s Red Shift (1973)
  • Garner’s own earlier novels, Elidor (1965) and The Owl Service (1967)

Inside Out: Outside In: Margaret Atwood and Jonathan Glazer

  • Margaret Atwood’s 1972 novel Surfacing
    • Luce Irigaray’s Speculum: Of the Other Woman, and Gilles Deleuze and Felix Guattari’s Anti-Oedipus
    • something in common with the “bitches brew” that Miles Davis plunges into in 1969, emerging, catatonic, only six years later; it approaches the deep sea terrains John Martyn sounds out on Solid Air and One World
    • Oryx and Crake (2003)
  • Jonathan Glazer’s 2013 film Under the Skin
    • source material, the novel by Michael Faber

Alien Traces: Stanley Kubrick, Andrei Tarkovsky, Christopher Nolan

  • Nicolas Roeg’s The Man Who Fell to Earth (1976)
  • Kubrick’s 2001, The Shining
  • Poe’s Masque of the Red Death
  • Ligeti’s Lontano
  • Solaris (1972) and Stalker (1979)
    • Stanislaw Lem’s Solaris (1961) and Boris and Arkady Strugatsky’s Roadside Picnic (1971)
  • Nolan’s Interstellar (2014)

…The Eeriness Remains: Joan Lindsay

  • Joan Lindsay’s 1967 novel, Picnic at Hanging Rock
    • Peter Weir’s faithful 1975 film adaptation