Thursday, 8 May 2008


Such a lovely name, don't you think? Yell-y-neck.

Elfriede Jelinek has put an entire new novel up on her website. Entitled Neid (Envy), it's apparently about "an older violin teacher left by her husband, who lives in a bleak Upper Styrian town. The book's themes range from the destruction of nature to politics to the bleakness of the Austrian provinces." (Heise online)

They also say it's estimated to be 900 pages long. I might take a look at it, but then again, I don't feel up to reading 900 pages on my computer screen. Elfriede Jelinek has threatened to take it off again whenever she feels like it, so you might want to rush to get a look before it disappears again.

I'm deliberately not including a quote, which I would generally do. The reason is that the website expressly prohibits any form of reproduction or quotes without prior permission. This has already provoked discussion on the Heise forum - and I find it just as counterproductive as it is ridiculous - and of course without any legal standing. Naturally enough, the author wants to protect her copyright, but a note saying that the texts are subject to Austrian copyright law would surely suffice. A case of extreme caution, I feel, rather than a genuine embracing of the internet as a medium for all.

Incidentally, the website also features a short text on the state of Austria after Amstetten. Called Im Verlassenen (Abandoned), it is well worth reading and very Catholic. In the introduction to Beneath Black Stars (see yesterday's post), Martin Chalmers writes:

Jelinek again: 'For me Austria is a nation of criminals. This country has a criminal past.' (...) One critic has commented that it is 'strange that it is precisely those who campaign so vehemently against nationalist activities, who appear to share the fetishization of national characteristics with their opponents'.

Certainly something to think about. But if you ask me, it is at least more legitimate for people living in a particular country to fetishise national characteristics than it is for people outside of that country. Maybe a bit like that whole "don't you dare criticise my mum/brother/husband - I'm the only one who can do that" thing.

Addendum: Perlentaucher rips the piss out of Jelinek's citation ban in its review of the German feuilletons. Way to go!


Anonymous said...

'Im Verlassenen' may appear 'very Catholic' but I think the tone is bitter-sarcastic - using the language of Austrian Catholicism against Austria. EJ is after all known as a 'Nestverschmutzerin' just as Thomas Bernhard was; his phrase describing Austria was 'nazistisch-katholisch'. This is all about power, the patriarchal power of the phallus (church, state, party) and using it because they can. Again and again and immer noch and nach wie vor. Nuthin' changes...
Cathy H
(logged as anonymous cos I still can't get this blog thing to recognise me!)

kjd said...

Hi Cathy,

I think I didn't express myself quite as well as I should have done. What I meant was that only a (lapsed) Catholic could have written the text, with its constant references to the power of the Father. So I agree with you through and through and am very glad to live in Berlin - which I suppose I see as a very round and feminine city.

Even the hugely phallic Fernsehturm has that lovely pregnant belly, making it more of an androgynous symbol than anything else... Angela Carter would be proud.