Friday, March 07, 2014

A Translation of a Letter from Thomas Bernhard to Claus Peymann

“Dear Peymann…”[1]

Crete, 11.26.79

Dear Peymann, Grand Duke of the Gridiron,

I propose that at the beginning of the coming year we should meet up in the mountains, where we met nearly a year ago, if we are still alive and willing.  I have a really awful airplane landing behind me; now that the whole thing already lies in the gloom [of the past], I am actually finding that descent into hell quite interesting.  By hook or by crook down into Rhodes, in the truest sense of the phrase.  The sea at one’s back, furiously foaming; I think you could have made a worthy leap into your element.

If I make it home with the play (It’s called “Late Renown”!), which above all means getting away from here, where the landing strip is much too short, I’ll thank the Lord above.

Mr. Walter Scheel, the German president, has been elected to the so-called German Academy for Language and Literature, so I’ve left it.  I always used to ask myself what an academy of that sort was, and I never managed to come up with anything other than the concept [known as] balderdash.  Now I had an excuse for disappearing.  In future if possible I’d prefer to stop being at home anywhere and to be nowhere but at home.  When will I ever make it to Bochum?  The Kru[c]ka [2] now has a telephone.  From there you can ring up the deer and the foxes and say good night to them.

Your very humble servant,
Thomas B.

P. S. Häusserman has asked me whether I want to do another “play” at Salzburg.  Shall we?  The bar we met up at is appropriately called The Magic Flute. [3] (In Vienna.)

[1] Editors’ Note: first published posthumously in Die Zeit, Hamburg, February 24, 1989.

[3] Presumably the same bar as the one Peymann and Bernhard dine at in Claus Peymann Buys Himself a Pair of Trousers and Dines with Me.


Translation unauthorized but Copyright ©2014 by Douglas Robertson

Source: Der Wahrheit auf der Spur.  Reden, Leserbriefe, Interviews, Feuilletons.  Herausgegeben von Wolfram Bayer, Raimund Fellingerund und Martin Huber [Stalking the Truth.  Speeches, Open Letters, Interviews, Newspaper Articles.  Edited by Wolfram Bayer et al.](Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 2011). 

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