Saturday, April 29, 2006

Everybody should read Elfriede Jelinek

I really mean it. I have never read her before, but started The Piano Teacher today. I can't recall when I have been as startled by literature, and at the same time, liked the book so immensely. From what I understood, I wasn't the only person who hadn't even heard of her when she won the Nobel, but half a book has been enough to convince me it went to a deserving author. (Incidentally, was very pleased about Pinter's prize, as well.)

Jelinek has so many incredible qualities - the turns of phrase; the fearless tackling of subjects like sexuality, inhibitions, the strong love-hate in symbiotic domineering parent-child relationships; the swift shift from inside a character's head to a piercing knowledge of the follies and foibles which individuals in general are guilty of; the way of creating a truly literary world. I know The Piano Teacher has been filmed - before the Nobel, if memory serves – and although I haven't seen it (yet) I gather it is regarded as a successful interpretation. I can't imagine how it could possibly carry more than the core story, though - just for instance, I am thinking of the paragraph where she describes how (and I am paraphrasing wildly off memory here) "the labia of the sealed, dried-up snatches of Grandmother and Mother clink together" while they go about, armed to the teeth, controlling the life of Erika. Ooo, fabulous, and you just cannot do that in anything but literature.

© 2006 Anna MR

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