Goethe Meets With Wittgenstein

Goethe Meets With Wittgenstein

Thomas Bernhard’s Goethe Dies (Yapı Kredi Publications, 2. print, 2017), which consists of four short stories, takes the readers on an intellectual journey.

Bernhard’s difference is that he also comes to terms with the philosophies of the people, the government, the country or the individuals he criticizes, and thus attempts to put forth a new philosophy. When we dwell on his expressions of hatred, it’s hardly possible for us to continue reading the book. Because ultimately, Bernhard is a writer who attacks the notions of family, mother, and father. The sad part is that he speaks in general, saying, “everywhere in the world” it is the same. However, it is not so all over the world. The relationship between parents and children varies in every culture. Bernhard has a person who does not see this difference speak in the three stories in the book. This shows how great and unrestrained his anger on the subject he is dealing with is.

Bernhard’s unrestrained anger is inevitably reflected in his statements. For example, when a woman and a man marry, they do not bring children to the world. They just “beget” children. Or Bernhard does not tear, burn or, destroy a letter he writes; instead, he “terminates”.  In this way, in three of the four stories in Goethe Dies, Bernhard’s outbursts of anger, the bombardment of criticism, and screams of hate emerge in different dimensions.

The reason I keep one story separate from the other three stories; it is because I realized how comfortable, angry, perhaps a bit of alluring the main character speaks about an event that he never was a part of. Bernhard is more calm and creative in his narratives that do not rely on his autobiography. At least he is free of emotions such as “termination” and “attacking” and thus he enjoys the philosophy and literature in his narratives. He can have the same taste left in the mind of his reader. The story I’m talking about is Goethe Dies or which gives the book its name. We encounter Bernhard’s feelings and thoughts in such stories. For instance, although he loves Goethe, he does not fail to tease him over German literature. Nevertheless, it is remarkable to see his comfort in getting out of him and dealing with other subjects and characters. Moreover, it can be said that his pen is more agile in such expressions.

Bernhard writes “Goethe Dies” in a method that we can say “conveying through dialogue” or “conveying by adding interpretation.” In fact, the story belongs to Riemer. He told the story to the person who was writing it. The author, by interpreting what he hears, creates the fiction by including the meanings that Riemer derives from his actions and his own predictions about the event. Therefore, we are not reading the first narration of the story (Riemer) but the second narrative with plenty of interpretations. This is another reason for the narrator’s comfort in narration. The narrator is only in the comfort of conveying what he hears. All responsibility rests with Riemer, from whom he learns. “I’m the messenger of Riemer,” the narrator says. Therefore, the pleasure of “gossiping” was added to the story. Pleasure can be observed in the narrator or in the reader. And when Bernhard’s technique is applied to an intriguing event, like Goethe’s invitation of Ludwig Wittgenstein to his home, an amazing story comes to existence.

Library of the Author

– Emerson, The Conduct of Life, Doğu Batı Publications

– Süleyman Çobanoğlu, Tamgalar, Ötüken Neşriyat

– Terry Eagleton, Culture, Can Publications

– Abdullah Kasay, Perdenin Ötesine Bakmak, Çizgi Kitabevi