Thomas Bernhard. There are no Viennese in Oxford the masses don't shout in Oxford. Herta. Frau Professor is going to take me along to Neuhaus. Frau Zittel. 𝗣𝗗𝗙 | Christine Kiebuzinska is Associate Professor of English at Virginia Polytechnic and Thomas Bernhard, Heldenplatz (Frankfurt, ). The event was the Burgtheater production of Thomas Bernhard's Heldenplatz; and the anniversary it 'commemorated' and probed was the Anschluss: Hitler's.

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Heldenplatz (English: Heroes Square) is a stage drama by Austrian playwright Thomas Bernhard. The final play written by Bernhard, it premiered on November 4, and Create a book · Download as PDF · Printable version. The violent discussions in reaction to Thomas Bernhard's ' Heldenplatz gangha /er" or doom promoter, for even before the Heldenplatz scandal he had. Thomas Bernhard - Heldenplatz - Free download as PDF File .pdf), Text File .txt ) or view presentation slides online. Bernhards Drama.

The metaphoric center of the play, his wife Hedwig Schuster, falls dead into her bowl of soup at the end of the play.

Both of these extravagant and unheroic deaths are directly related to what Bernhard shows to be Austria's willing acceptance of the Anschluss, and its active role in the destruction of its Jews. Between these two framing and accusatory deaths, Bernhard managed to infuriate much of Austria — including its Jews.

Thomas Bernhard

Unlike most other post-Shoah plays written in Germany or Austria, Bernhard produced a play in which the Jews are neither especially nice, nor especially Jewish; in fact, they are not much different from Bernhard's usual cast of complex, misanthropic, self-centered, and slightly mad characters. Unlike most other post-Shoah plays written in Germany or Austria, anger, hatred and bile are unmitigated in Bernhard's play by any agenda of forgiveness or reconciliation, or by any metaphysical appeal to higher meanings.

Both of these provocative stances, as we'll see, engendered one of Austria's most significant postwar theatre scandals, and one of its more revealing political fracases. Peymann 2 had been expected to commemorate a century of Austrian culture. The choice of a play which evoked the fiftieth anniversary of the Anschluss and the memory of Austria's Jews and their destruction, was not considered, by most, to be fitting. Heldenplatz erupted in an Austria still bruised by the campaign surrounding the election of Nazi collaborator and two-time UN secretary general Kurt Waldheim to the Presidency.

Waldheim, in his victory, proved Austria's determination not to see itself as anything other than 'Hitler's first victim,' an epithet long cherished in Bernhard's homeland.

With Heldenplatz, Bernhard created a memory-scandal within the deeply etched space of Austrian repression and denial. Heldenplatz, like Bernhard's earlier play on a continuing Nazi mentality in Germany, Eve of Retirement Vor dem Ruhestand , is a provocative dialogue with the knowledge and memory of his audience; and as was the case with Eve of Retirement, the context of its performance, the concrete socio-political situation within which it appeared, was very much part of the theatrical event.

It is positioned close to the lovely Volksgarten the garden where scene two of Bernhard's play takes place , and near the famous Burgtheater where the play was originally performed. Two large museums, the National Library, and the old Kaiser palace are all situated around this central square.

As many have noted, Heldenplatz embodies much of Austria's national identity. During Austria's First Republic, Heldenplatz was the place for military parades and troop call-ups.

It was at Heldenplatz that the crowds gathered in to mourn the assassination of their right-wing chancellor, Engelbert Dollfuss.

And in — the important date for this play, and the most infamous event connected with that square — hundreds of thousands of cheering Austrians gathered at Heldenplatz to welcome Hitler and the Anschluss that ended the First Republic and made Austria part of the German Reich. Bernhard did not need to detail all this history within the play.

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As always, he wrote for a specific audience, at a specific place and time: he could thus assume the audience's knowledge of the history and centrality of Heldenplatz. The public outcry against Bernhard's play preceded both its performance or its publication. The media dedicated weeks of daily coverage to the reactions and debates surrounding the as-yet unseen and unread play. Waldheim called the play an insult to all Austrians. He was joined by ex- Chancellor Bruno Kreisky, among others, in calling for the play's removal from the National Theatre.

Bernhard was vilified and even attacked on the street by an angry citizen. Bernhard claimed that he had to keep revising and 'sharpening' his text during rehearsals in order, as he put it, 'not to be left behind by reality'6 — that is, by the uproar raging in the press, the Parliament, and on the streets. Egon Schwarz summarized it well: 'One could say that the play was already being performed in the country, while it was still in rehearsal at the Burgtheater'.

This furor austriacus, as the critic Bernhard Sorg called these displays,8 had as much to do with the public determination not to face their own history of Nazi collaboration, as with the determined provocations of Bernhard's play.


The play begins in the Schuster's apartment, three-floors above Heldenplatz. Schuster, a mathematics professor and a Jew, was driven from Vienna with his family by the Anschluss; he escaped to Oxford where he lived and taught for many years. His brother Robert, a philosophy professor and the main speaker in the play, found work in Cambridge. Later, Schuster was invited back to teach at the University of Vienna and he returned, so Robert tells us, because he missed the music of Vienna.

The Austria to which the Schusters returned was the Austria of denial and revisionism; everything about it seemed tainted, even the music.

These perceptions finally convinced the Schusters to leave Austria and return to Oxford. Before the play begins, all had been packed and made ready for the family's departure; a house had been bought in Oxford, the Heldenplatz apartment had been sold when, on the eve of the fiftieth anniversary of the Anschluss Josef jumped out of his third floor window.

The play consists of a series of discussions in Bernhard's usual monologic form, in which the life and reasons for Josef's suicide are interrogated by the Schuster's housekeepers, their two daughters, and brother Robert.

Characters evoke Austria's past, which drove the Schuster's into exile; and the unchanged present, which finally led to Schuster's suicide. Another vital strand of the play concerns Schuster's wife Hedwig who, since returning to Vienna, suffers constant auditory seizures in which she — and finally the audience too — relives the cheering of the crowds as they applaud Hitler's triumphant speech on the square below.

Hedwig has undergone various treatments for her 'condition' at the Steinhof sanatorium, including shock therapy. But all to no avail.

This is hardly surprising since disease which is so often a subject in Bernhard's works is not the point here: memory, in Bernhard, like resentment, cannot be cured.

It can only be overcome if at all through death. By the end of the play, the roaring repeating choruses of 'Sieg Heil Sieg Heil' will lead to Hedwig's final collapse.

Through these two framing deaths, Bernhard performs the taboo evocation of Austria's destruction of its Jews, connecting it with the Austrian part in Nazism, with their willing acceptance of the Anschluss, and with their continued refusal to 'hear' the voices of a still present past. Reflexive geography: place and complicity Bernhard's tactics in this uncompromising play go beyond the litany of fierce verbal attacks anticipated by his audience. This outer layer is combined with a complex and sophisticated recreation of the geographic and historic 'space' within which Austria, and the audience, are defined.

The audience is always clearly implicit in Bernhard's plays, and here it is signified both through direct 5 reference and, more interestingly, through the spacial reinscription of the Burgtheater within which the audience was sitting and the Heldenplatz geographically so close to the actual Burgtheater on stage. Through this, the audience is imaged as contained within, and complicit with, the stage reality they are viewing.

Bernhard conflated the play's fabula with the geography of the theatre and city where the performance was being held; moreover, he evoked the past through the geography it shares with the present. Heldenplatz stresses the simultaneity of stage and world, of past and present, of Heldenplatz as diachronic and synchronic site of memory and identity. In addition, the problems that beset the production of Heldenplatz were fueled by the highly ructious Austrian scandal sheets.

Initially, the outcry focused on the choice of the depressing Bernhard, frequently referred to as the Ubertreibungskiillstler, the exaggeration-artist, as the playwright to open such a significant celebration. Since it had been agreed that Suhrkamp, the press publishing Bernhard's work, was not to release Heldenplatz until the morning of the premiere, these illegally published excerpts were quoted out of context, and without any reference to plot or characters.

The focus of the indignation concerned passages from the play that cir, cumscribed Austria as "a stage on which everything had rotted, been annihilated , and had become totally demoralized," by the "disgusting six Project MUSE promotes the creation and dissemination of essential humanities and social science resources through collaboration with libraries, publishers, and scholars worldwide.

Forged from a partnership between a university press and a library, Project MUSE is a trusted part of the academic and scholarly community it serves. Built on the Johns Hopkins University Campus. This website uses cookies to ensure you get the best experience on our website. Toen ik dat eenmaal had opgezocht in het handige overzichtje voorin het boek, las het allemaal heel vlot. He meant this play to be intolerable to his fellow Austrians — and in his parting gift to them, his aim was true.

His voice might enrage those who need heroes to feel superior to other people, and to justify themselves and their historical identity. The cries she hears are not those of the present but of the past, ghostly memories of the atrocities of Preview — Heldenplatz by Thomas Bernhard.

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While reading you get a very uncomfortable feeling, as if you could feel the fear of the main character. The influence a place has on the individual becomes enormous in his works, and a life can usually be measured by where it was lived; who your parents are might matter when it comes to who you become as a person, but not nearly as much as your place of birth does, or where you spent your childhood.

To find out more, including how to control cookies, see here: Cleverly, and nastily, the writer chooses to focus the action of his work not on one hundred glorious years of Austrian theatre but on a rather less impressive milestone. Jul 19, Alexander Kerber rated it it was amazing. Refresh and try again.Me and Thomas Bernhard go a long way back, this was my first book of this brilliant author, who became one of the most touching authors for me.

The play begins in the Schuster's apartment, three-floors above Heldenplatz.

Schuster's unusual form of memory madness: her constant reliving of the screams of welcome that greeted Hitler's arrival at Heldenplatz in 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 B Thomas Bernhard was an Austrian author, who ranges among the most distinguished German speaking writers of the second half of the 20th century.

Austrian Festival Missions after And in both plays, the audience, who is always the real subject of his plays, is reflected and implicated in the ironic ending.

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