Thursday, November 06, 2014

A Translation of Thomas Bernhard's Correspondence with His Publisher, Siegfried Unseld. Part VII: 1969.

Letter No. 57


Dear Dr. Unseld,

I thank you for your letter, apropos of which: for years I have had an extremely good Viennese tax accountant, and in point of fact the good--nay, excellent--man submitted an installment payment schedule for my taxes quite some time ago, but the approval of it is taking for ever.  Should the schedule be authorized, as I naturally expect it will be, the old rate of DM 2,000 will still be too small, and I shall have to have DM 3,000 ready to hand on the 15th.

I believe you can painlessly resolve to bump up the price of my play from two thousand to three thousand.

Please send your reply on this matter to this address.

Please also see to it, have it seen to, etc., that the transfer of the money allows me to have it physically in my hands on January 15, 1969; otherwise I shall have to pay a substantial fine and the cry of the cuckoo will spoil my farm.

Yours very sincerely,
Thomas Bernhard

Letter No. 58

[Address: (Ohlsdorf)]

Frankfurt am Main
January 8, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard,

You will have three thousand marks on January 15.1

Siegfried Unseld
  1. On the firm’s file copy there is a typewritten note reading: “The DM 3,000 are an advance on royalties from the play A Party for Boris.”  On the verso of the original is the following list in Bernhard’s handwriting: “22nd Cologne / 23rd Bielefeld / 24th Berlin / 25th Hanover / on the 24th a plane ticket from Hanover to Berlin--& (25th) back! / 26th Hamburg etc.”   

Letter No. 59


Dear Dr. Unseld,

Thank you for your initiative!

In October, I do not wish, as per my promise to Mr. Busch, to publish a collection of self-contained novellas like Prose, but rather a single prose piece of about the same length as Ungenach, a piece entitled Watten (a card game).  (edition).

The question of whether it is wise to issue the novel, which is engrossing my present vital forces, later this year after the play, the novella, and Verstörung in the BS, about which I am especially delighted and naturally I am delighted about the lot, I must answer on my own behalf with a resounding no.    

I must take this opportunity to tell you that I recently gave an old friend of mine, a “fantastic realist” from Vienna, three short prose pieces that we decided not to publish  under the imprint of the firm some time ago, for a bibliophilic collection of his sketches to be published by Residenz Publications; I hope it finds some slight smattering of attention, which it deserves.1

In sum I am asking you to reserve October for the release of Watten, to get me out of this horrible cloud of uncertainty about Boris, to encircle Verstörung about the waist with one of your lovely black belts, and to “purge” yourself of any impulse to contest the publication of the novel--which, if I don’t suddenly croak, I shall undoubtedly have finished by the end of this new year--in ’70 at the earliest.  I am haunted by a vision of my works devouring each other in ’69 with nothing but a stupid, hamstrung author surviving as leftovers.

Yours very sincerely,
Thomas Bernhard

P.S.. What is with this From Transcribed Dreams thing?  Is it some kind of sudden flash of fancy of yours that you forgot about in just as sudden a flash, or a ghastly reality?

  1. In 1969 Residenz Publications published Bernhard’s book An der Baumgrenze.  Erzählungen.  Zeichnungen von Anton Lehmden [At the Timberline.  Novellas.  Sketches by Anton Lehmden].  It contained “At the Timberline,” the title story, and “Der Kulterer,” as well as “Der Italiener.  Ein Fragment [“The Italian.  A Fragment”].  “An der Baumgrenze” was first published in Jahresring [Growth Ring] 67/68, Stuttgart, pp. 46-52, “Der Kulterer” (under the title “Der Briefträger” [“The Postman”]) in Neunzehn deutsche Erzählungen [Nineteen German Novellas], Munich 1963, pp. 65-87, Der Italiener in Insel Almanach auf das Jahr 1965 [1965 Insel Almanac], pp. 83-93.  During a 1969 meeting in Ohlsdorf, Bernhard wrote “I won’t be unfaithful again!” as a dedication in a copy of the Residenz collection that he gave to Unseld.  (For the text and context of “An der Baumgrenze” see Vol. 14, pp. 99-107 and 543-556 of Bernhard’s Works; for “Der Kulterer” and “Der Italiener,” Works, Vol. 11, pp. 356-371.)
Bernhard--Inscription for Unseld.jpg
Thomas Bernhard’s dedication to Siegfried Unseld in the 1969 Residenz Publications collection of novellas At the Timberline: “I won’t be unfaithful again!

Letter No. 60

[Address: Ohlsdorf]

Frankfurt am Main
January 23, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard,

Thanks very much for your letter of January 12.  I am bedridden and spellbound by a recrudescence of the flu, and so I can regard the world from the perspective of a visiological |dictated: misological| invalid…

We will be happy to reserve a number in the edition for Watten (for November).  October has already been settled on and made public; the new schedule begins in November 1969.  I am very pleased that we will be able to publish this text in the edition.

All the same, my dear Bernhard, we really should not let that deter us from publishing your novel on time in the fall.   Admittedly the important question is whether you are finished with it.  I don’t think that we are dealing with an incommodious backlog here; quite the opposite, and I really must ask you to trust my experience in this matter at least for once.  The two publication events will actually bolster each other, especially if we can achieve or at least schedule a good premiere for Boris beforehand.  Perhaps we can then concentratedly bring about our desired breakthrough.

And there is another thing to be considered: both novels that had been slated to appear in the fall, Johnson’s and Grass’s, will most likely not be ready by then.1  There will hardly be anything coming out.  You would be standing alone if you could bring forward a novel then.  That would be an incomparable situation.  And after all it would be your situation: that of a productive writer, while your colleagues are of course sinking ever deeper into hypertrophic scepticism.

On the train I recently ran into the theatrical director Hans Hollmann and told him about Boris.  He was ablaze with enthusiasm about it and incredibly eager to stage it.  We will see how it pans out.

With friendly regards
|your perturbed1a| Unseld

  1. The first volume of Johnson’s Jahrestage [Anniversaries] appeared in September 1970.

1a. “Perturbed” in the original German is “verstörter,” presumably in wry tribute to Bernhard’s Verstörung [DR].

Letter No. 61

[Address: Ohlsdorf]

Frankfurt am Main
February 3, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard

The news that Dr. Braun has quit Suhrkamp Publications has surely reached you by now.  As far as I am concerned I made a sincere attempt to persuade him to stay on, and in extensive conversations Günther Busch, Karl Markus Michel, and Martin Walser have made the same attempt.  But Dr. Braun stuck to his decision even though he assured me that in all his years here he had managed to carry through all his projects in complete independence and without encountering any interference whatsoever from me.

This event has put me into a difficult position.  My complete confidence in Dr. Braun’s work and and my attendant delegation to him of all responsibilities is turning out to be a kind of boomerang, because it may make it look as though I didn’t care much about the development of the dramatic publications division or, for that matter, about its relations with the authors of the dramatic publications division.  That is not the case, but the dramatic publications division was very much Dr. Braun’s bailiwick.  Hence I am especially keen to emphasize to you that I am going to exert the greatest imaginable effort to insure that the dramatic publications division of Suhrkamp continues to develop in the direction that it has been developing in over the past few years.  Administrative continuity will be guaranteed by the presence of Ms. Bothe, who has been at her post for several years.  Martin Walser has already declared himself willing to assume interim leadership of the division.  This is a temporary arrangement that will allow us to look for a successor at our leisure and afford this successor an opportunity to learn the ropes.  It goes without saying that we have resolved that Dr. Braun’s official successor will be a man who enjoys the unqualified trust of the division’s authors.

It is, my dear Mr. Bernhard, a decidedly absurd series of events.  I cannot make head or tail of Dr. Braun’s motives.  But you may rest assured that we will do everything in our power to press on impassively with our work, and all of us--especially including myself--will champion your play, along with those that hopefully will follow it, with great alacrity and passion.

with friendly regards,
Siegfried Unseld


Letter No. 62


Dear Dr. Unseld,

I have such a cheerful attitude to work right now that not even the greatest of all absurdities is capable of razing me to the ground.  If there is anything I believe in at all, given that one cannot believe in anything, it is a cool head.

In Germany there is an outbreak of headlessness, an illness that  has always been in the process of being healed.

Deadly seriousness is roaming through Germany, but it is ridiculous.  I have not the flimsiest reason for leaving the firm, in which I have so far always, in the teeth of the most natural resistance, gotten my way, and in which I shall continue to get my way in the future.

Admittedly, I must now produce a bigger blockbuster.

Thomas Bernhard

Letter No. 63

[Address: Ohlsdorf]

Frankfurt am Main
February 10, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard,

I thank you for your letter of February 5.  Last Saturday Dr. Braun and a few authors from the dramatic publications division (Handke, Sperr, Reinshagen, Ziem, Runge, etc.) decided to found a new firm, Braun Dramatic Publications.  I have no idea how this will work out in detail.  But the new firm will not be able to do anything radically differently, and I can hardly imagine that it will manage to garner its authors any more money through profit-sharing.  Indeed, I fear the contrary.  I myself am naturally only sorry to be losing the performance rights for Handke’s works.  He came to see me and explained himself at great length.  He himself sees the whole thing as a kind of “game”; ho-hum.1

Don’t you doubt for an instant that we will work as hard as we can on Boris’s behalf.

with friendly regards,
Siegfried Unseld
  1. On February 17, 1969, under the headline “Authors’ Publishing Firm.  A Broken Leg,” Der Spiegel reported: “During the first Suhrkamp crisis [see Letter No. 54] last fall, when the readers Boehlich, Widmer, and Urban resigned [...], Braun worked out a compromise with Unseld.  But the new ‘editorial office council’ that was supposed to democratize all of the firm’s important decisions ended up not producing in practice any of the results that its formation had been intended to achieve.  When in an interview with Christ und Welt Unseld gleefully announced that everything at his firm was the same as it always had been, the disillusioned Braun took the logical next step: he asked to be let go.”  On February 8, 1969 Peter Handke, Hartmut Lange, Gerlind Reinshagen, Martin Sperr, Dieter Waldmann, Konrad Wünsche, Joachim Ziem (all of whose plays had until then been distributed by Suhrkamp Dramatic Publications), as well as Bazon Brock, Wolfgang Deichsel, Günter Herburger, and Erika Runge, met in Frankfurt and resolved to found the first German publication firm organized as a cooperative.  Karlheinz Braun and Wolfgang Wiens formulated a “Constitution of the Authors’ Publishing Firm”: “The ‘Authors’ Publishing Firm’ has been founded by its authors; it is the property of its members.  The membership is comprised by the authors and the employees of the firm.  The members govern the firm.  (The producers are all working on their own behalf, under their own supervision, for the sake of lining their own pockets.)  At the Authors’ Publishing Firm there is no ‘publisher.’  The business affairs of the firm are conducted by ‘delegates’ who are elected by the members every three years. [...]  As at every other publishing firm, the authors receive their royalties; the delegates and employees receive their salaries.  In addition, the profits of the firm are distributed among its members” (Das Buch vom Verlag der Autoren [The Book of the Authors’ Publishing Firm], pp. 19ff.).  On April 1, 1969, the firm began its operations as a limited liability corporation and partnership.          

Letter No. 64

[Address: Ohlsdorf; Telegram]

Frankfurt am Main
March 14, 1969

have just signed contract with deutsche schauspielhaus we are wishing for a successful stage production.1

sincere regards yours siegfried unseld  

  1. On the telegram memorandum taken down by Unseld’s secretary, Burgel Geisler, appears the following note in her handwriting: “The receiving office reports that the telegram is undeliverable because Thomas Bernhard has gone away for three weeks.  3.17.69.”  Bernhard spent March 23 through 24, 1969 in Lovran with Hedwig Stavianicek.     

Letter No. 65

Hotel Atlantik

Dear Dr. Unseld,

Dr. Botond (this is the place for all sorts of abstract nouns attesting to the inestimable quality of this woman as an institution, but I shall refrain from including them, because for me praise couched in absolute, categorical terms is the most abominable kind there is) writes that you had the intention of visiting me in Ohlsdorf around April 1.1  As I do not regard the proposed visit as an April Fool’s joke but rather as an utterly extraordinary and and a superlatively ideally encouraging event and I am also looking forward to it, the fact that I am not at Ohlsdorf at the present time is direly awful.  Although admittedly not all that awful, when you consider that I have fled with the novel on my back to the seaside and that here in the most miserable weather and alongside naked coastal rocks and in the splendid salt air I have discovered the best conditions for the continuation and completion of the novel.

In concrete terms: I hope I shall have decisively “killed” the novel by the end of May.  It is of course always a matter of slaying a monster.  Because then it will lie still.  I am quite plantlessly delighted that my Boris will be taking to the stage in Hamburg.  I wish you peace at the firm.  Concentration on the books.

But of course soon you will once again be travelling to the mountains of Bavaria, and from there it will be just a stone’s throw to me.  I am looking forward to it.

Perhaps you can find some good news for me and write it up send it to me here; that would, I think, be a good idea.  If there is no good news for me, please make some up.

Yours sincerely,
Thomas Bernhard

  1. On March 1, 1969, Anneliese Botond wrote to Bernhard: “[...] yesterday we had a farewell party for Braun; beginning next week he will be residing at his own publishing house.  The last thing he did here was secure the Hamburg premiere of A Party for Boris  [...] Unseld has instructed me to tell you that he could (would like to) visit you at Ohlsdorf around April 1 and that he would then very much like to pick up the manuscript of the novel (but will he be able to?).”  

Letter No. 66

Frankfurt am Main
March 21, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard,

Thank you very much for your letter of March 14.  When I signed the contract with Hamburg on Friday, 3.14, I sent you a telegram, but it was returned as undeliverable.  So now I have your address, and I would very much like to wish you good speed in carrying on your work.  Naturally I would have liked to see you on April 1.  But it is really more important for you to be able to work and write.  Anyway, it really does seem to me that this is the most important thing: to engage in productive work.  Let us leave the chattering and gossipping to other people.

I can certainly also arrange to visit you in June or July.

This is the excellent news: that Thomas Bernhard is working, and his publishing firm is calmly awaiting the product of his labor in order to bring it to full fruition.

sincere regards
--and bathe assiduously--
Siegfried Unseld    

Letter No. 67



am in vienna = thomas bernhard

Letter No. 68


Dear Dr. Unseld,

More than fourteen days ago I wrote to the accounting department asking them very politely, supplicatingly, to send me my account statements for ’68 as promptly as possible, i.e., immediately, because I need them at the moment; so far I have received no reply and I am writing directly to you because my tax accountant has now set me a firm deadline of 4.14, and I don’t want there to be any hideous hassles.  I cannot (my letter was an express letter, by the way!) comment on the abominableness with which I am being left in the lurch.  It is bad enough that I am fighting a running battle with the finance ministry, and I have no intention of fighting another one with your accounting department.

P. S. from the author: I have finished the novel, but it is not going to appear until next year; I have no intention of cutting away the gangplank underneath my own feet with madcap impulsiveness and at the stupidest possible moment--in other words cutting it all away at once.  My schedule is shaping up as follows, and it craves the endorsement of my publisher:

  1. In October: Watten, a novella, roughly about as long as Amras in the edition
  2. In the winter I would like to ask you to print Boris in the edition,
  3. Early next year, also in the edition, a volume of prose pieces, comparable to Prose
  4. Then, regardless of whether the play is a success or a flop--I am bracing myself for both possibilities; neither of them will affect or disturb me, and either will be quickly forgotten afterwards--the novel will appear in the fall of ’70.
It horrifies me to reflect on how completely Verstörung fizzled out; you know of course that it has vanished without a ripple along with all your fantastic reviews etc., owing to inattention.
This is not an accusation, and yet it is one, but one directed solely at my debt to the firm, which I shall never be able to pay off by such means as I expended on Verstörung.  But what I need is independence of a financial nature, a clearing away of the debt; but towards this end something must be done; if I simply work and every now and then am forced to “beg” for some ridiculous advance, the publication of each book will be an event of no interest to me.  To have a well-made book in my hands for one glorious moment, which reaches, lasts, two or three days if I’m lucky--is this all that the gross output of my brain is to amount to as far as I am concerned?  Here I am at a loss for the appropriate words.  But have the appropriate words ever occurred to a writer at the appropriate juncture?  No, never.  All words of all writers, in every single expression of their (these two’s) perplexity, are ill-timed.  

I am taking care not to espouse a single further slogan.

I salute you; I am happily
Thomas Bernhard

Letter No. 69

[Address: Ohlsdorf]

Frankfurt am Main
April 17, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard,

Your letter of April 9 reached me yesterday, 4.16.  I don’t know why it took so long.  You will receive the financial statement this week, meaning that it will be mailed from here before the end of this week.  Until now this unfortunately could not be done.  In the second half of this year we plan to import our accounts for Insel into our electronic data processing system.  I hope this business will take less time then.

Every revenue authority in the world is equipped to deal with cases like yours through hourly and monthly installments.  So that must be possible.

If only you could finally stop griping about what has happened to Verstörung.  I in turn could of course keep telling you that because you chose that title despite my opposition to it, the book will never be a success, at least not a “commercial” success.  You have of course received plenty of literary accolades, and what is more, the publication of the book in the BS is coming up in August.  I can’t do anything more for you in this case.

Watten is definitively slated to appear in the es (as Volume 353) in November.  We cannot firmly add A Party for Boris to the November ’69-April ’70 scheduling block, because the date of the premiere has not yet been established, and of course it is out of the question to publish the text before the premiere.  This, then, is what we have done: we have added the play (as Volume 390) to the schedule for May of ’70.  From there, depending on the date of the premiere, we may be able to bring the play’s publication date forward.

I am pleased to learn that we will have another prose text available for publication in the edition in early summer.  I shall be happy to bring it out then.  Then we will unhurriedly prepare the novel for publication in fall of 1970.  It will be very agreeable to me if we have the manuscript in January or February of ’70.

with friendly regards,
Siegfried Unseld

Letter No. 70


Dear Dr. Unseld,

I am in such a good mood that I simply have to write to you; don’t bother searching for the reason; I don’t know what it is myself.  And then I’m getting the feeling that I possibly put you out with my importunate letter.  But right now I have no use for putting people out.

But sometimes it is simply the process of tidying up that degrades the typewriter into a producer of uncouth verbiage.

I am walking around with a play in my head and it would be lovely if I could make ends meet until the premiere in Hamburg without succumbing to the influence of the monkeys at the newspapers.

Moreover you have expressed a potential wish to come here at some point; I extend to you the warmest invitation to do so; that is all.

I am looking forward to the Bibliothek. (Verstörung.)

At bottom I am no money-grubber.

But of course you know that.

On the whole I couldn’t care less about money, as long as I have all the necessities.  Anything more than that I have no need of, and it is actually a burden to me.  I need peace and quiet; I have peace and quiet.  (A nursery rhyme and a nursing-home rhyme.)  Your publishing firm is the finest of all and I hope it will once again be nothing but a publishing firm.

It is so very senseless to snivel, but I am not snivelling, but merely pouring scorn.  And sneering at myself.

If there are any more books by Georg Forster apart from the first one, I would really like to receive it (them).

And other books; I am the most presumptuous person in the world, as you also know.

Our joint timetable naturally remains in place.

You know that I like to live, like to travel, like to eat well and love nothing else other than good writers.  This is why I have so little love in my heart.

I have been quite enthusiastic about Kropotkin!!!1  Only stinking mice are writing nowadays; literature is being nibbled away.  Ugh. Yuck.

And I still don’t know why I am writing to you today.  There are no extrinsic reasons.

And the next time you write to me, please do so “sincerely” once again and not “with friendly regards,” which I abhor from the very depths of my soul.

Yours from the very depths of his soul,
Thomas Bernhard

P.S. My reader A.B. is the post to which I am glad to tether my sheep, the entirety of my authorial vocation.

P.P.S.  For the most part, our literature, including even much of what you produce--I’m hanging myself high as can be right in front of you--is an infinitely extensive corpse devoid of both philosophy and poetry not to mention the slightest hint of good taste or intelligence.

(You needn’t sign this!)

  1. Thomas Bernhard’s surviving library contains the Insel Publications 1969 edition of Max Panwitz’s authorized 1889 translation of Peter Kropotkin’s Memoirs of a Revolutionist.  The text figures prominently in the novel The Lime Works--which Bernhard was working on at the time of this letter--as a favorite book of its central character, Konrad.  Kropotkin’s name appears  in the novel 76 times, in places originally occupied by Lermontov’s  (see Volume 3 of Bernhard’s Works, and pp. 238ff. of that volume in particular).  

Letter No. 71

Frankfurt am Main
May 21, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard

Thank you very much for your letter of May 11.  I would really like to come and see you now, to visit you and talk with you and even do some other enjoyable things there; of course I now know what your estate looks like thanks to my television screen.  But at the moment I cannot get away from my desk.  At the beginning of June the sales representatives will be here at the firm, and we are all up to our necks in preparations for their presence.  After that I have to go out of town for a bit, but then, in the second half of June, I shall be somewhat freer.  Perhaps we can see each other sometime in early summer.  Or would you rather come to Frankfurt?  If that appeals to you, let me know so that we can settle on a date that will be agreeable to us both.  There is a second volume of Forster that we have brought out; I shall be happy to have it sent to you.1 Otherwise, literature, philosophy, and poetry are in a bad way.

with sincere regards,
Siegfried Unseld

  1. Georg Forster: Werke I-IV: Band I: Reise um Welt [Voyage round the World], edited by Gerhard Steiner, was published in 1967; Band II: Ansichten vom Niederrhein und andere Schriften [Views of the Lower Rhine and Other Writings] was published by Insel in 1968.  In the margin of this paragraph in the firm’s file copy the word “done” appears in Burgel Geisler’s handwriting.    

Letter No. 72


Dear Dr. Unseld,

A two-day, pre-July 20 excursion to Frankfurt--because I believe I must at some point once again see my publisher face-to-face, and also see his new building, the readers, etc.--would be good for me; I would arrive in Frankfurt on the 17th and depart on the evening of the 19th, provided that the firm allows me to travel entirely at its own cost; I myself have no money to spare for a jaunt of this sort.

I think it is better to talk than to correspond, because in people’s correspondences misunderstandings have been intersecting for millennia, as you know very well.

What is going on with Boris etcetera and in general.

Today I found myself wondering whether it would be possible for the firm to have the long-deceased Frost resurrected in some useful form.  For years the book has been a corpse, a fate that it does not deserve, etc.  This year a young man is writing a dissertation on my work, and I have received from him a marvelous work on Ungenach, the foundation or starting point of his dissertation, a successful seminar paper.  A female doctoral candidate at the uni in Vienna is writing a dissertation on The Concept of the World of the Theater in Thomas Bernhard’s “Verstörung.”  And yesterday evening on the radio, which I seldom turn on, I heard an hour-long discussion in which almost nothing but Frost was talked about and in which several university professors ended up arguing over who was more knowledgeable, Homer or Thomas Bernhard.  |Drivel.|

I am of course delighted about all this, and it is also very nice to be be here and to have nothing to worry about other than the book nearest within my reach, namely Watten.

I shall bring Watten with me.

It is unconditionally necessary for me to come to Frankfurt, because a series of obscurities must be clarified, to the extent that they are amenable to clarification.

And I would also like to ask you now and once and for all to consider whether it would be possible at around wintertime for me to take a trip to America at no expense to myself.  November, December would be the right time for such a trip.

I am very happy
Thomas Bernhard   

Letter No. 73       


Dear Dr. Unseld,

I am gathering momentum and a trip to Germany is out of the question; I am also crossing out the wish to go to America that I indicated in my last letter.

Is Basel going to put on Boris?

I intend to have my new play finished when the first one is published.

For half a year I have managed to pit my wits against the tax office to good effect; but I am now at their end, and so I must ask you to send me the 3,000 marks; I find it difficult to use the word express, but if it is possible please send it by the end of this week!!  (Three thousand.)

You write that you would be happy to take a trip here during the summer; you are welcome at any time; you know that.

Yours sincerely,
Thomas Bernhard

Letter No. 74

[Address: Ohlsdorf]

Frankfurt am Main
July 2, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard,

You are quite right about epistolary correspondence and its verbal immobilization of many difficulties.  But I shall be very happy to see you, and I do believe we have a few obvious and not-so-obvious things to discuss.

I am therefore quite happy with the idea of your coming to Frankfurt at the firm’s expense on July 17.  Will you be spending the night with us?  I myself will be going away on July 19, and so I particularly welcome the prospect of a conversation on those two days, the 17th and the 18th.

So, everything viva voce henceforth.

Siegfried Unseld
Dictated in absentia
to Burgel Geisler

Letter No. 75

[Address: Ohlsdorf]

Frankfurt am Main
July 8, 1969

Dear Thomas Bernhard,

I am poring over your letter of July 1 and pondering its contents.  When are we ever going to eliminate the tiresome wrangling over financial matters from our correspondence and relationship?  Of course you are hardly posing me a problem, but you know that even numbers speak a language.  Insel Publications lent you DM 25,000.  It has advanced you honoraria totalling DM 32,000; additional credits totalling
DM 24,000 have also been remitted.  Thus there remains an unpaid balance of
DM 8,000.

Suhrkamp Publications remitted to you an advance of DM 3,000 for Boris and a guarantee honorarium of DM 2,000 for Ungenach.  That amounts to a grand total of DM 38,000 which is hardly a trivial sum.  I really deserve some sort of acknowledgment beyond your persistent animadversion, which I seem to draw upon myself for God knows what reason.1  

You also know that I value your works.  Admittedly you do not know how very highly I value you.  We shall continue working as we have done to disseminate your books.  That will be difficult, but we are not giving up and never will give up trying.  We have devised something special for Verstörung.  This is going to be a supplement that will afford an interesting mirror of the criticism of the book, and we shall also disseminate this supplement very vigorously.  Furthermore, we are planning a book for the “es,” On Thomas Bernhard, which will be edited by Ms. Botond.  It is expected to consist of some important essays about you along with a concluding bibliography.  This book will, I hope, do you a great deal of good; and what is more, you are seen in good company here, alongside Frisch, Eich, Walser, etc.  As you can see, a few good things are happening, and you would really do well to acknowledge this too.

But now apropos of your latest request: I can issue you DM 3,000 as an advance on the honorarium for your new book, but not all at once; rather, in monthly sums of
DM 1,000.  This is slightly connected to our financial situation, which at present is not particularly rosy.  In any case, revenue authorities are generally quite happy when any money at all comes in.

When will we be receiving the manuscript of Watten?  When do you think you will be able to finish the manuscript of the new novel?  I have a special plan in mind for it that I shall wait until then to write to you about.

with best regards
Siegfried Unseld

1.   Unseld drew his figures from a statement of accounts for honoraria dated July 4, 1969: “Mr. Thomas Bernhard was credited the following sums from 1962 through 1968.”  The precise grand total of the payments from Insel Publications through December 31, 1968 came to DM 32,282 (DM 24,000 as payments on account; DM 7,782 for Frost plus DM 500 as an advance for Frost), the credits based on honoraria to DM 24,208 (DM 2,078 for Amras, DM 7,041 for Verstörung, DM 14,248 for Frost, DM 408 for Prose, and DM 433 for Ungenach.  A total of DM 6,035 was still owed to Suhrkamp Publications (A DM 3,000 advance for A Party for Boris, a DM 407 uncleared advance for Prose; as well as uncleared guarantee honoraria: DM 572 in the case of Amras and DM 2,056 in that of Ungenach).

Letter No. 76



request remittance of the three thousand by wire to ohlsdorf = sincerely bernhard

Letter No. 77

[Address: (Ohlsdorf)]

Frankfurt am Main
July 25, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard,

You did not respond to my proposals.  And so yesterday at the instance of your telegram I had the DM 3,000 sent to you.  The preceding payments were advances on your forthcoming novel, whose manuscript you intend to submit to us at the end of the present year.  These latest DM 3,000 are therefore an advance on the work to come after the novel.

with best regards,
Siegfried Unseld

Letter No. 78


Dear Dr. Unseld,

I really can’t make head or tail of your letter of the 25th, and I am every bit as clueless about the general state of our financial arrangement; at some point that has got to be clarified viva voce by our combined brains with the help of documentation and then sorted out for good; and I hope that that some point is not to be in the all too distant future.

I thank you for your prompt remittance of the 3,000, which has put my mind at ease and saved me from a nasty mishap.  And so my doubts were unwarranted; all is well.

My constant and most ardent desire is to spurn all the moronic and bumptious but also seductive proposals of the Devil once and for all, and henceforth to cease reacting to the importunities of the vulgar journalistic and even more vulgar essayistic larger world and to preserve in safekeeping a permanent place for my own thoughts at my desk, a lifelong wildlife reservation for my perverse pleasure in writing, and hence for me alone.  I am devoting all my befuddled exertions to the attainment of this necessary condition.  And the publisher will also have to be happy to have his author whistling out of tune.

In the past few weeks a publisher whose name I can put on paper for you if you are curious to learn it has wanted to buy me “lock, stock, and barrel,” to pay off all my debts and put me on a salary for life, but I naturally have not accepted his “proposal” for numerous reasons that are all too familiar.  I am not about to dig my own grave in a crassly obvious fashion; if I do so it is going to be in a superlatively refined manner, and I’ll manage to get the job done all the same.

I am resistant to money, which means that every now and then I find myself in the position of emitting a genuine cry for help; that I occasionally succumb to the obligation to commit the distasteful act of asking for something.  But on those very occasions words are nothing but agents of putrefaction.

Has it never occurred to you that I have published neither articles nor essays etcetera even though they would bring in tons of money, etcetera.  Agents of putrefaction.

Now I shall resume indulging in my pleasure; I shall soon be sending off Watten and you will receive the novel on time, but the book must not, I think, “appear” in the form of a celestial apparition--an idiotic if standard expression: “appear”--before the fall of ’70.  And I intend to hold on to it as long as possible; I am a last-minute man; I am a tightrope walker without a tightrope, and the abyss is not only underneath my feet.        

When is the postman going to bring the Bibliothek Verstörung?

The question about whether Basel is actually going to put on Boris likewise remains unanswered.

Admittedly unanswered questions are always the most uninteresting ones.  In every case answers stultify questions and shrink them down into an indescribable nullity.

Early today I read that Gombrowicz had died and all day long I’ve been unable to do anything; there are thousands of writers whose deaths would leave me unmoved; indeed, I could learn of the total mass murder of virtually an entire generation of writers without batting an eyelid, but this particular death saddens me.1

Somebody has told me about your playing tennis.  A worthy character sketch.

But every description occasions a completely false mental picture.

Yours sincerely,
Thomas Bernhard

  1. Witold Gombrowicz died on July 25, 1969 in the town of Vence in southern France.

Letter No. 79

[Address (Ohlsdorf)]

Frankfurt am Main
July 30, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard,

Thank you very much for your letter of July 28.  You say you couldn’t make head or tail of my letter of the 25th.  I must give you a breakdown of the various books and publication schedules with which the payments I have issued you are associated.  The payments issued to you so far apply to the books up to and including Watten.  The
DM 3,000 most recently remitted to you are a payment on account to be deducted from the royalties of your forthcoming novel, of which you write to me that you will send it to me “on time.”.1a  In any case, I am quite happy and willing to talk to you about all this viva voce.  Will you be in Ohlsdorf during the week of August 25-30?  I would very much like to come and see you at some point.  Please write back to me about this with all speed; I would like to tell Günter Eich when I shall be coming to see him during the same trip.

During this conversation we will be able to clarify various things, among them perhaps the date of the appearance of the novel, which, “ex certainis causis,” as my Latin teacher used to say, I would be keen on seeing published on July 1, 1970.1      

We are happily and eagerly awaiting Watten; I am looking forward to reading it.

The publication of Verstörung in the BS has been slightly delayed because we are putting a copy of the “Bernhard Supplement,” which has turned out looking very nice, into all the BS volumes, as well as into all the relevant volumes of the “es.” I am expecting the first copies on August 4; you will receive a copy at the same time by the quickest route.

Basel will stage Boris; they have not yet been able to settle on a date, but their acceptance of it is a binding fact.

From Ms. Botond you will have heard that we are going to devote the July 1970 volumes of the “es” to the firm’s authors, and then issue volumes consisting of secondary literature; hence, volumes about Frisch, Eich, Weiss, etc., and also a book about your works.  In conformity with my wishes, your volume will be compiled by Ms. Botond personally.

Yes, I play tennis, and also chess.  There are people who say that I am a born gamester.  If that is true, I would assert that I am a special type of gamester, in that I play games quite seriously and very much for keeps, whereas I prefer to work out more serious matters by treating them like a game.

with best regards,
Siegfried Unseld
1a. This breakdown seems to contradict Unseld’s previous letter, in which he stated that the most recently remitted DM 3,000 were an advance on the text that was to follow Das Kalkwerk/The Lime Works.

1. Peter Suhrkamp founded Suhrkamp Publications on July 1, 1950; hence, exactly twenty years earlier.

Letter No. 80

[Address: Ohlsdorf]

Frankfurt am Main
August 1, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard,

Would you like to take a trip to Israel at any time next year, after you have finished your novel?

There may be a possibility of such a trip opening up.

with sincere regards,
Siegfried Unseld

Letter No. 81


Dear Dr. Unseld,

No matter what happens I shall be in Ohlsdorf between the 25th and the 30th, and I shall be expecting you.

Yours sincerely,
Thomas Bernhard

Letter No. 82

Frankfurt am Main
August 6, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard,

So, let us firmly agree that I am going to visit you at some point between August 25 and 30 in Ohlsdorf.
I shall inform you of my precise arrival date soon.

with sincere regards,
Siegfried Unseld

Letter No. 83


Dear Dr. Unseld,

Dr. Botond has just written to me that she has given you notice and is leaving the firm.  I cannot believe that you have unquestioningly allowed this foolish act to take place, in other words, acquiesced in it without question, and I would very much like you to think the whole matter over and if possible do everything in your power to prevent this woman, whose significance to the firm can scarcely be overstated, from taking a step that must surely figure among the most foolish that I have ever seen a human being take.1

Yours sincerely,
Thomas Bernhard

  1. On August 1, 1969, Anneliese Botond wrote to Bernhard: “Dear Mr. Bernhard, I am preoccupied with two things that have some bearing on you.  The first is an es volume called On Thomas Bernhard [...]  Unseld offered me your volume, and I naturally shall be glad to prepare it, provided that you are amenable to it, and provided that something good is going to come out of it.  What I am mean is that I have a certain reservation: there has of course been an infinite amount of material written about you, but how much of it is suitable for this volume?  [...] What is more, this volume is also going to serve a highly sentimental function as a “farewell gift.”  What I mean is that what was bound eventually to happen has now happened: I have given Unseld notice and will be at the firm for only a couple of more months [...]  But it seems to me that nothing bad can happen to you at the firm.  Unseld will offer you his friendship when he comes to Ohlsdorf in August, and unless I am sorely mistaken, you will get along well with him.  From now on your books, all of them, will be published by Suhrkamp, and quite rightly too.”

Letter No. 84

[Address: Ohlsdorf; on Insel Publications stationery]

Frankfurt am Main
August 13, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard,

Thank you very much for your letter of August 6.  Obviously I had an extensive conversation with Dr. Botond.  But I ultimately found it impossible to dissuade Dr. Botond from her firm decision.  I was quite surprised that she wanted to leave by the end of September instead of staying on until her contractually allowed resignation date, June 30, 1970.  The main impetus of her decision was her feeling of total isolation, both from the staff of the firm in general and from her fellow readers in particular.  And on top of this she had no desire whatsoever to shoulder any of the responsibility associated with the increasingly difficult situation at Insel; and this situation is indeed becoming more complicated, with regard both to the firm’s schedule and to its material conditions.  She has no idea of how any of that is going to pan out, and so she would prefer not to be encumbered with any responsibility for it.  I am afraid that your sensible reflections are no match for the strength of her emotions.

Obviously, we will talk about this when I am at your place.  I shall give you my precise arrival date in writing soon.  I can’t do that today because Günter Eich is in hospital.

Today we laid Theodor W. Adorno to rest.   A remarkable period of murders, deaths, funerals, and trials.1

with sincere regards,
Siegfried Unseld

  1. On August 13, 1969, Theodor W. Adorno, who had died in Visp, Switzerland on August 6, was buried at the main cemetery in Frankfurt.  In Los Angeles on the day of Adorno’s funeral the pregnant actor Sharon Tate and four other people were killed by members of the “Manson Family.”       

Letter No. 85

[Address: Ohlsdorf; Telegram]

Frankfurt am Main
August 15, 1969

urgently requesting manuscript “watten” owing to november deadline.  regards unseld

Letter No. 86

[Address: Ohlsdorf, Telegram Memorandum]

Frankfurt am Main
August 21, 1969

Awaiting your call Office 74 02 31 or Home 55 28 67.  Regards Unseld1

  1. Unseld met with Bernhard in Ohlsdorf on August 26 and 27, 1969; afterwards he visited Günter Eich, who had just been discharged from hospital, in the town of Großgmain near Salzburg.  In his Travel Journal for Austria from Monday, August 25 through Friday, August 29, 1969, Unseld wrote:
‘A conversation with Bernhard had become indispensable.  It was necessary to reestablish a solid foundation for Bernhard’s relationship to the firm.  I believe  we succeeded in doing this; at any rate, such is my unshakable impression.

Regarding his domicile and the landscape:
Ohlsdorf is sited very close to a splendid Upper-Austrian landscape dotted with lakes: Traunsee, Attersee, Mondsee, Wolfgangsee (I saw laundresses who washed their garments in pure lake water).  Bernhard’s farm is an eight-minute drive from Gmunden (there are no filling stations on this stretch of road).  Bernhard has converted an old quadrangular farmhouse to his own uses; i.e., the wing containing the barns and stables has been cleared out and whitewashed; the whole of Suhrkamp Publications could be housed within it.  The residential wing is spartanly, simply furnished with a luxurious bathroom.  It is draughty there.  Distractions from work are notably absent.  Bernhard lives there completely on his own.  A cleaning woman comes by once a week; from time to time a man or woman from one of the farms in the area brings him eggs, milk, or--as during my visit--excellent home-distilled schnapps.

In concrete terms we talked about three1a things:

I. Finances
As near as I could gather from Ms. Roser [the firm’s accountant in charge of honoraria], Bernhard has received from us a loan of DM 25,000 and a balance of payments and credits totalling DM 16,000 (a sum that includes the payments but not the credits issued in the first half of 1969).

We agreed on the following:

  1. The loan will continue to be treated as a loan.
  2. The payments amounting to DM 16,000, which originally covered only fees associated with works already written, will now also cover the options payments for Bernhard’s next three works.
  3. Bernhard will sign a declaration stating that in case of his death or incapacitation he will cede all honoraria to Suhrkamp until the entire balance of payments and credits has been cleared.  I shall ask Mr. Nabbefeld [the firm’s commercial manager] to prepare a suitable agreement in collaboration with Mr. Torz.
  4. Beginning on September 1 and for a period of two years Thomas Bernhard will receive DM 800 per month to be deducted from the revenues of his past and future books.  The payments will be remitted to Account No. 318 at the Gmunden branch of the Bank for Austria and Salzburg.
Moreover, for a period of two years Thomas Bernhard will  demand no honoraria from us.
  1. Once the financial situation vis-à-vis both firms through 6.30 is clear, namely at the end of August / beginning of September, I would like finally to issue Bernhard a clearly itemized “bill.”  Then, around the end of September, I shall ask Ms. Roser to give me the new account balance.
  1. I discussed with Bernhard his “transfer” to Suhrkamp publications.  This question was easier to discuss because Ms. Botond had already advised him on it [see Note No. 1 to Letter No. 83].  The pros and cons were debated at length, and in the end Bernhard was content with the change.  The novel, which is complete in outline and in a draught typescript, will be able to appear as part of Suhrkamp Publications’ schedule for July 1970.  How we will apportion the honoraria payments between the two firms will have to be discussed by Dr. Haag [the firm’s tax accountant], Mr. Nabbefeld, and me.

  1. Publications     
  1. He sent the manuscript of Watten by express mail to Ms. Botond on the Friday before my visit (8.22.69).
  2. A Party for Boris is scheduled to appear in the “es” in the first half of 1970.
  3. The new novel is scheduled to appear in the main schedule of Suhrkamp in July 1970.  We will receive the manuscript in January, at the latest in the middle of February.
  4. Bernhard was delighted with the BS edition of Verstörung.  He would really like to write some more things  for this series.  Before my visit to him I had read the novella “Midland in Stilfs” in Akzenten [Vol. 16, 169, pp. 338-355] and was able to tell him about my enthusiasm.  He is going to write two more novellas with similar themes and the same structure.  We agreed on the publication of a volume in the BS in October 1970 (Volume 258, ca. 120 pages).
  5. Bernhard showed great interest in our publication schedule.  He is quite prepared to give us advice and even editorial help.  During our conversation Bernhard showed himself to be extremely knowledgeable about modern literature.  While we were talking about the BS, it occurred to him that Trakl was absent from the series.  He would like to compile a volume of Trakl for the BS, specifically for 1971.  The book would impart the essence of Trakl’s oeuvre in 150 to 180 pages.  He is also friends with the present editor of the Trakl critical edition, and so we shall be able to get hold of correct texts.  Both the copy[right] and publication rights for Trakl are of course in the public domain.

  1. On Thomas Bernhard
He is very happy about the book and also happy that Ms. Botond will be editing it.  The following people have written complete dissertations or other texts about him:
Hans Höller
18 Pestalozzi Straße, Vöcklabruck, Austria 4840

Wendelin Schmidt-Dengler
Germanistisches Institut, University of Vienna

Hans Rochelt
5 Blumenstockgasse, Vienna I

Dr. Inzel Kykal
2 Wimhölzel Str., No. 13, Linz, Austria 4020
Scholarly Text

In Professor Vortriede’s seminar in Munich a Mr. Zelinsky is working on something about Amras.

“People in Berlin” have written to Bernhard telling him that they wished to compile a Bernhard bibliography for a “scholarly journal.”  Bernhard looked for the letter but could not find it.  Ms. Botond would like to follow up on this.

The following texts can be included in the book:

Handke on Verstörung--One or two of the long Blöcker reviews--Zuckmayer on Frost--Walter Jens has expressed himself in very positive terms to him regarding Ungenach.--We might ask Canetti, who had told Bernhard that he wished to write about him.--Martin Walser (I have spoken to him by telephone; he is prepared to write about 3 to 5 pages about Ungenach and Verstörung).  Part I of the book should comprise “biographical” texts by Bernhard:

  1. His acceptance speech for the Bremen Prize.  Appeared in Jahresring 1966 [see Note No. 1 to Letter No. 5].
  2. His prize speech in Vienna in 1968.  Published in Monat, August 1968 [The acceptance speech for the Austrian State Prize was first published in the Vienna newspaper Neues Forum; see Note No. 2 to Letter No. 43].
  3. His undelivered speech for the Wildgans Prize, published in Neues Forum 1968 [see Note No. 2 to Letter No. 43].
  4. Bernhard was sceptical here, but I would be very much in favor of including it: his remarks on “official theater” that were published in the special issue of Theater heute  [Theater Today].  The remarks were made in a letter addressed to [Henning] Rischbieter [Theater heute’s editor].  The review that the letter mentions and that Bernhard wrote at the age of eighteen is still in his possession, and he could furnish us with a copy of it for the book.
All this together should give us a sizeable volume.

V. But now to the most surprising item: an offhand comment that happened to touch the nerve of Bernhard’s love-hate attitude to Austria brought the conversation to the subject of Insel Publications’ “Österreichische Bibliothek” [“Austrian Library”], which had been founded and edited by Hugo von Hofmannsthal in 1915.

We spoke twice at great length about the institution and prospects of a “New Austrian Library” and also about people who should edit it or conceptualize it.  Bernhard and I both came to regard the idea of such a library as a very reasonable one.  I told him that we would discuss it both here at the house and elsewhere.  I have enclosed the notes from our discussions as an extra attachment, as I would also like to present this idea to Handke and get his opinion of it.’

1a. Unseld’s numeration suggests they discussed at least five things in concrete terms (DR).

Letter No. 87

[Address: Ohlsdorf]

Frankfurt am Main
September 3, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard,

What a pleasant time we spent together!  At any rate, I found it pleasant; I feel as though we have only just now really gotten to know each other.

I have made meticulously detailed notes of our conversations.  You will soon be receiving a separate letter from me on the subject of finances.  We have firmed up our publication plans.

Watten November 1969 in edition suhrkamp
A Party for Boris in the first half of 1970, likewise edition suhrkamp.
The new novel in the July 1, 1970 Suhrkamp schedule.
Three new novellas under the title Midland in Stilfs in October 1970 (Volume 258) in the BS.

To my great delight you declared yourself willing to edit a volume of Trakl, and we also talked about the book On Thomas Bernhard, which Ms. Botond is going to edit, and she will write to you in conformity with our agreements.  I can also tell you that since our meeting I have spoken with Martin Walser by telephone; he is quite taken with both Verstörung and Ungenach, and he would like to commit his impressions to paper for publication in this book.

Enclosed are the minutes of our conversation about a “New Austrian Library.”  Just imagine: I saw Hilde Spiel at Eich and [Ilse] Aichinger’s place and I managed to talk with both ladies about this undertaking.  Both were quite taken with it.  Aichinger wants to contribute; Hilde Spiel lacks a sustained block of unscheduled time as of now.  She wants to think it over.

I am sending you a couple of copies of the breakdown that you could perhaps give to some friends.  Would it be possible to get hold of Artmann somewhere and talk to him?  He would be an important contributor to the initial planning.  After that is done, I will discuss our plans here at the house and let you know how they are received.

I thank you very much for our get-together and hope that we can have another one sometime soon.

with sincere regards,
Siegfried Unseld
Dictated in absentia
to Burgel Geisler

[Enclosure; typescript]

August 26-27, 1969 conversation with Thomas Bernhard about a “New Austrian Library” at Insel Publications

[The first page of the typewritten minutes of the conversation between Bernhard and Unseld is a photocopy of pp. 612f. of Insel Publications’ Bibliographie on which the volumes of the Austrian Library are listed with the remark: “The series--edited by Hugo von Hofmannsthal--was published between 1915 and 1917.  Among the members of the editorial committee were Leopold von Andrian, Richard von Kralik, Heinrich Friedjung, Max Mell, and Anton Wildgans.  The summary texts for the prospectus were written by Hofmannsthal.  (They were included in Volume III of Hofmannsthal’s  Prosa, Frankfurt am Main, 1952.)  The 26 volumes were issued in the same format as that of the Insel Library [Insel-Bücherei], with yellow dust jackets.  Through Volume 13 the title plates were printed with black lettering and borders; the succeeding volumes had green-bordered title plates.  Most volumes were printed in runs of ten thousand copies.  A few of the titles of the series, which was not resumed after the First World War, were incorporated into the Insel Library.”]

Bernhard and I took as our starting point the notion that in Austria there are an increasing number of new voices who embody something unique and who will probably never flourish without wider exposure in Germany.  The idea behind a new collection would be not only to show what a wealth of talent Austria has had and continues to have at its command, but also how this wealth en bloc is mirrored in the forcefield of the German-speaking world; hence, it would also be a question of pointing up reciprocal relationships.

As possible managing editors, i.e., planners and co-conceivers of such a series, we have named H. C. Artmann, Ernst Fischer, Barbara Frischmuth, Peter Handke, Alfred Kolleritsch, Leo Navratil, and Hilde Spiel.

The “New Austrian Library” ought not to be published as an integral part of the Insel Library, but rather formatted and packaged to match the volumes in the “new” Insel library that we are planning.  So: Format IB, Ballacron covers, yellow dust jacket with an overprinted color pattern, length 60-250 pages, price variable.

Bernhard and I regard the following as possible titles:

1st Series, six volumes, May 1970:
  1. Adalbert Stifter, Sonnenfinsternis [The Solar Eclipse of July 8, 1842].  Afterword by Peter Handke.
  2. A volume from the old “Austrian Library.”  The proposed books are Vol. 1, Grillparzer’s Political Testament, with Hofmannsthal’s introduction, or Audiences with Emperor Joseph edited by Felix Braun, who could perhaps add some more material to it, or Documents from Austria’s War with Napoleon.
  3. Wittgenstein.  A freestanding text or letters on Austria-oriented subjects.
  4. Karl Krauss, Poems.  Selected by Peter Hamm (this would be brought in with an eye to the prospective BS project).
  5. Walter Schmögner, The Plopp-Wu-U-Um-Whaaasch.
  6. H. C. Artmann, med ana schwoazzn dintn, expanded by Artmann, perhaps also Villon’s Ballads in Viennese.

2nd Series, six volumes, September 1970:

  1. Anthology of new Austrian literature (unpublished texts, edited by Kolleritsch)
  2. Sigmund Freud
  3. On Austrian Sociology: Part I (here a subseries with factographies should be developed)
  4. Adorno, Alban Berg
  5. Another text from the old Austrian Library, e.g., Schubert in His Circle of Friends or texts by and about Mozart, Haydn, Beethoven
  6. Thomas Bernhard, novellas

3. From November 1970 onwards two volumes should appear every month: the two volumes should be coordinated with each other, e.g., Karl Kautsky, Political Writings, and Andrian, Garten der Erkenntnis [Garden of Knowledge].  Or Roth, Legend of the Holy Drinker, and Hildesheimer, Who Was Mozart?

In addition to the well-known and unknown classic Austrian authors, one would also have to keep in mind people like Kürnberger or Ferdinand Ebner or Theodor Kramer (edited by Guttenbrunner).

September 2, 1969

Letter No. 88


Dear Dr. Unseld,

Perhaps your car will pull into the courtyard of my house again sometime soon; I shall be delighted if it does!

For days I have been intensively busy with the novel, awaiting the galley proofs of Watten--which I beg you to enable to be published on schedule--and in the best constellation imaginable.

The seclusion of this place, when I am working intensively, is enormously salubrious for me.  I am “exploiting” this condition.   

Apropos of financial matters: I am awaiting your letter, the documents, etc.  Apropos of the payments starting from September, please remit each of them to me at the beginning of the month.  The first one has not yet arrived here.

But the most important issue is completely clear.

Regarding the Austrian Library:
It seems best to me, if this is possible, to put just a few people in charge of the project, as well as to “rope” as few people as possible into the whole thing.  Especially while there is still less than complete clarity about its execution.  The idea is actually brilliant and realizable, which is reason enough for enthusiasm.  As editors I can only really imagine:

Ernst Fischer
Barbara Frischmuth
Peter Handke
Hilde Spiel
Leo Navratil

That group, in my eyes, would make the best team.  I don’t know anything about Kolleritsch. A relatively old literary mode, a relatively new one, a philosopher, a politician, a painter, and an absolute fool should always each get to say their piece, I think.  Wieland Schmied could be responsible for the volume of so-called graphic art.

For the first six volumes
I envisage: 1. Sonnenfinsternis (Handke)
  1. Something from the old Bibliothek*
  2. Wittgenstein
  3. Ferdinand Ebner! (Hans Rochelt)
  4. Karl Kraus, Poems (Hamm)
  5. Artmann
I would not initially care to publish somebody like young Schmögner.  We already have Artmann ready to hand to fill the spot of the contemporary fool.  On the whole, I think such a series ought to comprise a kind of Austrian exempla classica, and in every installment there should be one new book on whose jacket it is explicitly stated that it is [meant to appear] new, contemporary.
A glance at the first list suggests to me: please write to Hans Rochelt/ c/o A. David/ 5 Blumenstockgasse / No. 4 / Vienna 1,  on account of Ferdinand Ebner, the philosopher, who is practically unknown in Germany and out of whom you can probably make something as exceptional as whatever can be made out of Wittgenstein.

I am genuinely more than excited about the idea of the Austrian Library, and for want of taking a more active role, I now can only hope that it ends up as something approaching my conception of it.  This country does not by any means deserve such a library, but to those who will ultimately form that library’s contents it will doubtlessly give some posthumous pleasure, not to say honor, a concept that is not worth a single extra box on the ears.

I am eager for information and I send you my thanks and my greetings

Yours sincerely,
Thomas Bernhard

*Not that there’s much in it that will be of any use in the future!!!  But to start with, why not, as a token gesture.

Letter No. 89

[Address: (Ohlsdorf)]

Frankfurt am Main
September 18, 1969

Dear Thomas Bernhard,

Thank you very much for letter of September 15.  For my part I can only say that I shall be glad to steer my car back into the courtyard of your house; and I am sure that that will happen sometime in the next year.

We shall be sending you the typeset Watten on September 30.  Because time is tight we have skipped the correction of the galley proofs.  I am pleased to hear that you are working productively on your novel.  If it even approaches Midland in point of concentration of material it will be a great work indeed.

Regarding our material agreements: the first payment to you was remitted to you somewhat belatedly, because the manageress of our accounting department was on leave.  But it has been several days since we committed the authorization of payment into the hands of our bank.  So you must have received the money by now.  In the future you will receive the payments punctually at the beginning of the month.

Our plan for the Austrian Library is creating quite a stir.  Martin Walser has vehemently excoriated me for promoting this plan: he says that it is regressive, museum-like, that it somehow abets the annexation of Austria, and that I’ll eventually even manage to buy myself a post as a privy counselor (here he is of course mistaken, because as we know this post of all posts is not for sale).  But there are other voices.  Peter Handke is quite taken with the plan and is also quite happy to write the afterword of Solar Eclipse.  Barbara Frischmuth is also of our party.  She would like to edit Abraham a Sancta Clara with an afterword.  Hilde Spiel essentially welcomes the plan.  But she still lacks the necessary free time in her schedule.  The new reader at Insel, Dr. Shaked, is also positively disposed to the plan and has made several astute remarks about it.  After my conversations with Handke and Frischmuth, it is my considered view that the series should perhaps not be planned on an overly grand scale.  I infer something to the same effect from your latest letter, when you write that we should be trying to produce a kind of Austrian exempla classica.  Don’t we want to arrange it so that we start out with six books, issue another six books after an interval of half a year, and then see how far we get with that?  Another thing to consider is the possibility of foregoing the inclusion of an old title from the old library.  By doing that we would deflect all accusations of regressiveness from the outset.  What do you think of that?

Your team of editors looks good to me.  But I think Thomas Bernhard should also be on that team.

Now to the individual titles: I agree with you on your newly proposed titles for 1, 4, 5, and 6.  I was briefly in London and spoke with Rush Rhees, the editor of Wittgenstein.1  As far as he knows there are no manuscripts directly relating to Austria or Vienna.  The decisive document would have been his letters to Ficker, which, however, have not yet been published.  But we could still do a Wittgenstein book.  We already have as Volume 3 of Wittgenstein’s Writings a book called Wittgenstein and the Vienna Circle.  Conversations.  Recorded by Friedrich Waismann.  I could easily imagine Ingeborg Bachmann making a distillate of this book and also wanting to write a commentary on it.  What do you think of that?

We have to talk about Artmann.  Wouldn’t it be possible to include a complete collection of his Viennese poems?  That would of course have to involve more than med ana schwoazzn dintn.

The question of whether to include a volume from the old library deserves more careful review.  If one were included it would obviously have be one of the volumes edited by Hofmannsthal, so maybe Grillparzers politisches Vermächtnis.  These are things to consider.

We intend to give further thought to them.

with sincere regards,
Siegfried Unseld    

P.S.: The enclosed prospectus was issued in [a] run of 200,000 copies.  So we are doing something for the BS and its authors.

  1. On September 14 and 15, 1969, Unseld was in London, where he met with Walter Benjamin’s son, Stefan, and Rush Rhees.

  1. The leaflet bears on the first of its four pages the caption “Thomas Bernhard’s Novel Verstörung” and courts the reader’s attention with a quotation from Peter Handke, the concluding sentence of his review “When I Read Verstörung by Thomas Bernhard” (first published in Manuskripte 21, X 67-II 68, pp. 14f; cf. Vol. 2, pp. 225f. of Bernhard’s Works).  The two inner pages are filled with excerpts from reviews of Verstörung.  The fourth page contains biographical information along with a list of Bernhard’s works published by Insel and Suhrkamp so far.   

Letter No. 90


Dear Dr. Unseld,

Please give your accounting department a ring and tell them that they still haven’t remitted me anything for October and that it is important, as well as acceptable, to remit the payment to me at the beginning of each month.*  How is our project coming along?

I am going to be in Hamburg for a few days to have a chat with Wendt and Peymann, which I think will be worthwhile.

Thomas Bernhard

*Please give your computer’s head a permanent delousing!

Letter No. 91    

[Address: Ohlsdorf]
Frankfurt am Main
October 20, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard,

Contracts that must take the possibility of death into account are always more complicated than one expects they will be.  We have also had to talk with our lawyer, and I have had to swallow the admonition that one cannot allow an interest-free loan to be extended indefinitely (for in that case you would be obliged to pay taxes on it, because such a loan would constitute an exemption from common commercial practice).  I have accordingly applied a small interest fee to the balance (5%; the firm is currently charged 8.1%).  Furthermore terms of some kind must be imposed on the repayment of the loan; otherwise the contract will not be valid.

But my lawyer has concocted something else on top of all this.  He was was wondering whether we might not ask you, by way of securing our debt claim in the event of an unforeseen catastrophe, to relinquish your rights to honoraria from third parties.  I myself do not attach any especial importance to this point, but I have provisionally accepted it.  If you think this goes too far, just strike through §7 before you sign the contract.  That is also all right with me.

with sincere regards,
Siegfried Unseld   


[Enclosure; Typescript; Carbon Copy]


Mr. Thomas Bernhard, Obernathal / Ohlsdorf, Austria A 4694
Dr. Siegfried Unseld as Fully Liable Partner in Insel and Suhrkamp Publications / 29-25 Lindenstraße, Frankfurt am Main 6
have entered into the following agreement:


  1. Thomas Bernhard and Dr. Unseld have agreed that all legal relationships between Thomas Bernhard and Insel Publications and Suhrkamp Publications are to be transferred to Suhrkamp Publications.  This also applies retroactively to the loan and credits remitted to Thomas Bernhard by Insel Publications.  This arrangement need not entail that in the future all of Thomas Bernhard’s books will automatically appear under the imprint of Suhrkamp Publications; to the contrary, Thomas Bernhard and Dr. Unseld will jointly determine under the imprint of which firm and in which form of publication the future works are to appear.

  1. In order to secure Thomas Bernhard a material foundation for his authorial activities Suhrkamp and Insel Publications have granted Thomas Bernhard a loan and certain payments of honoraria, and the firms are prepared to continue to grant him such payments of honoraria.  The present contract is intended to fix the terms of such agreements in writing for clarity’s sake.


  1. The firms have granted Thomas Bernhard a loan of DM 24,289.10  Through 12.31.1969 this loan has been and will continue to be interest-free; from 1.1.70 onwards an interest fee of 6% [sic] will be applied to it.  After 12.31.1974 either Thomas Bernhard or Suhrkamp may recall the loan at three months’ notice from a deadline of 6.30 or 12.31 of a given calendar year.  After the recall deadline the balance of the loan, along with all accumulated interest, will be due for repayment.

  1. Using established arrangements pertaining to honoraria as a precedent, the firms have issued certain payments; after subtraction of sales revenues through 8.31.1969, the total balance of these payments comes to DM 15,428.31.

  1. Suhrkamp Publications pledges within the context of Insel / Suhrkamp Honoraria Payments to issue Thomas Bernhard a sum of DM 800 per month throughout the period of 9.1.1969 through 8.31.1971.  The payments will be paid to the order of Thomas Bernhard at Account No. 318 of the Bank of Upper Austria and Salzburg; Gmunden, Upper Austria.

Thomas Bernhard pledges, during the period of the repayments mentioned in II.3, not to receive any honoraria in addition to these payments or to make any demands for honoraria.

  1. The honoraria due to Thomas Bernhard from the works that have so far been accepted by or are currently being produced for Insel Publications or Suhrkamp Publications; as well as from the cession of originator’s rights, copyright, and all other rights of dissemination mentioned in Subparagraph II.5; as well as from all works or publications of any other kind that may subsequently be accepted by the firm, will be applied to the amortization of the balance mentioned in Subparagraph II.2 as well as to the remittance of the payments mentioned in Subparagraph II.3.

  1. In acknowledgment of the payments granted to him by the firm so far, Thomas Bernhard pledges to cede the copyright as well as all other potentially accruing rights of publication and dissemination for his next three completed works to Suhrkamp Publications.  Suhrkamp Publications pledges to promote the work of Thomas Bernhard with highly especial assiduity.

  1. Thomas Bernhard expressly declares that in the event of his death or incapacitation the firm shall be entitled to clear any balance of credit outstanding as of that point of time by means of any existing or future claims to honoraria on the part of him or his heirs that may arise subsequent to one of these points of time; in such an event he resigns all claims to honoraria to Suhrkamp Publications.
  1. Towards the end of securing the claims on Thomas Bernhard that are Suhrkamp Publications’ due, the former in the event of his death or incapacitation herewith resigns to Suhrkamp Publications his and his heirs’ rights to all honoraria from the firms of Suhrkamp and Insel as well as from all third-party publishers, and from any business or from any institution governed by public law, in consequence of the reprinting of his works.  Insofar and as soon as these rights to honoraria exceed the due claims of Suhrkamp Publications, the latter pledges to re-cede the resigned rights to Thomas Bernhard or his heirs.

  1. It is agreed that Frankfurt am Main will serve as the site of fulfillment and jurisdiction.

(Thomas Bernhard), (Dr. Siegfried Unseld),
Ohlsdorf Frankfurt/Main

Letter No. 92

[Address: Ohlsdorf]

Frankfurt am Main
October 29, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard,

I thank you for your letter of October 20.  In future the remittances will be made punctually at the beginning of the month.  The accounting department has confirmed this.

The Austrian Library project is hitting some snags.  Even those who were most supportive at the outset (Handke and Barbara Frischmuth) have become fault-finders.  Martin Walser subjected it to heavy bombardment by the argument that we should be “giving our all for Bernhard, but doing nothing whatsoever for an Austrian series.”   If I want to become a privy councilor, I really shall have to buy myself the post.  (But Walser is mistaken if he thinks this post is up for sale.)  We shall talk about this next time.

with warm regards,
Siegfried Unseld

Letter No. 93


Dear Dr. Unseld,

Naturally I am not going to sign your contract.  The fact that the firm has employed a legal professional to draw it up renders the proposed contract an effrontery.  Apropos of the financial numbers and figures cited in the contract: I can hardly believe, in the light of my familiarity with the slovenliness of the firm’s accounting department, that they tally, but I have no choice but to accept them.  Accordingly, my situation vis-a-vis Insel-Suhrkamp Publications will remain as it is.  But this sameness entails the following:      
I shall not send any further manuscripts to the firm until the firm has completely paid off my debt to Insel-Suhrkamp by means of those of my works that have already appeared under the imprint of Insel-Suhrkamp Publications, including my play A Party for Boris.  Only once I am completely debt-free will I be able to submit manuscripts to you again.

Moreover: if the firm entirely erases my debt by means of my previous works, which have hitherto been indissociably tied to Suhrkamp-Insel, our collaboration will continue.  If the firm does not erase my--relatively trifling!--debt within a period of at most two years, my next book will appear under the imprint not of Suhrkamp-Insel but of some other publishing firm.

But if Suhrkamp-Insel Publications is in no position to erase my debt by means of my works in the firm’s catalogue within a period of two years, it can at any time demand in full my repayment of the debt, after which I shall then be completely free.  I am capable of furnishing the sum of money in question at any time.

When I tell you that since March of 1969 I have earned more from my little book At the Timberline, which has appeared under the imprint of Residenz Publications in Salzburg, than from the combined total of my important Suhrkamp-Insel works published in the course of six years, I believe I am entitled to conclude that there is something not quite right about Suhrkamp-Insel Publications’ way of doing business.  Spare me the details.

Moreover, I am enraged, outraged, flabbergasted, by the fact that the firm is awarding stipends of twelve thousand Deutschemarks per annum and propagating throughout the length and breadth of the land the illusion that it is a generous guardian and custodian of its authors and their works, knowing as I do that I personally in all these years have yet to have a single penny “bestowed” upon me.  But again: spare me the details.  It is monstrous that I have been working more or less uninterruptedly with great intensity and hence difficulty for sums of money that are hair-raisingly tiny (2,000 marks altogether for an edition volume, etc.) and that I can no longer allow myself to make do with.  I cannot continue accepting Suhrkamp-Insel Publications’ laughable bids a second longer.  But I also believe that a correspondence about this whole subject is pointless and that only a conversation, which must take place here, will be of any value.

Your visit here was invigorating, but your utter lack of consistency is astonishing.

Yours sincerely,
Thomas Bernhard

Letter No. 94

Frankfurt am Main
November 6, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard,
I have carefully read your letter of November 1.  You are behaving unreasonably, unjustly, unfairly.

What ever can have happened?  During my visit we discussed the notion of drawing a line, as it were, under all payments to date, i.e., of Insel and Suhrkamp Publications’ seriously endeavoring to clear away the moneys disbursed to date by means of running honoraria from works ceded to date.  That was something the firms committed themselves to do.  This commitment was to be complemented by your own commitment to ceding your income from honoraria to the firms in the event that something ever happened to you.  Is that really so complicated?  As for the fact that I called upon a legal professional to draw up a rather tricky contract, you surely ought not to resent this given that in this document you are to be making not merely a verbal promise but a de jure pledge to your heirs.  I cannot descry the slightest trace of “effrontery” in this.  We are both pledging to do something and must abide by this pledge.

I will bet you any sum you care to name that you are mistaken in saying that the Residenz Publications book At the Timberline has garnered you more money than the combined total of all your works at Insel and Suhrkamp Publications.  If you like we can argue this out right away, and you will see that you are mistaken.  Besides, a vita made up of Suhrkamp-Insel publications makes every publisher’s work easier.

And please stop being so pettish about the Suhrkamp dramatist’s stipend.  This stipend is suitable for young unknown playwrights, but not by any means for a man of your stature!  Your receiving it would just look like a bad joke and would be unworthy of you.  It is in any case not true that we have never bestowed a “penny” on you; sure, literally that is true, but in a figurative sense it obviously isn’t.  Why do you refrain from acknowledging that loan of DM 40,000 that Insel Publications’ granted you way back when?  Please just consider for a moment, why don’t you, that each and every year Insel Publications is obliged to come up with DM 3,200 interest for that loan.  I would never have made mention of this but for the fact that you are reacting so mean-spiritedly and pettishly.

Once again: we are drawing a line under the whole affair.  I think it is important for you to make a legally binding declaration for your heirs’ sake (so that in the event that something happens to you we can square the honoraria with the amount still due from previously disbursed moneys).  That is all that this is about.  Moreover--and on this I am in agreement with you--we are only talking here about a brief time-span of two or three years.  Of this I am sure.

There is another thing you have forgotten: we agreed that you would be granted monthly payments.  You have already received two of these payments; both these monthly payments and the sums remitted to you for your taxes already count unambiguously as advances on future books.  Please bear that in mind.

All that aside, you are quite right; we really should get together one more time.  I shall be very happy to do this, because I have extremely fond memories of our latest conversation and I believe we really got to know each other much better in the course of it.  So: when will you next be in Vienna again?  How does the weekend of November 15-16 sound?  If this weekend date is agreeable to you, would you please, for my personal calendar’s sake, be so kind as to send me a telegram?  As you can see, this is important to me.

We have just received the first copies of Watten.  I shall be sending you a copy by separate post; more will follow.  It total you have 45 complimentary copies at your disposal.  We printed a first run of 9,000 copies.  Two other titles have been newly published in the edition; in May, Boris will follow in the edition.

Siegfried Unseld


Letter No. 95



expecting you weekend ohlsdorf please send telegram sincerely = bernhard

Letter No. 96
[Address: Ohlsdorf; telegram]

Frankfurt am Main         
November 12, 1969

vienna would be much better for me stop we could also meet on weekend 22/23 in vienna stop again please reply by telegram
regards unseld

Letter No. 97

Frankfurt am Main
November 14, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard,

I have unfortunately not received any further news from you; perhaps your personal calendar did not afford room even on the weekend of 11.22/23.  I have therefore postponed my trip; if I have an opportunity to meet you in the next week perhaps I could schedule it then.  But I really would be pleased if we could meet in Vienna.  You have of course told me that you are in Vienna practically every week, and perhaps you can somehow arrange for us to see each other there.  Ohlsdorf means two days of travel for me, after all.

with best regards,
Siegfried Unseld     

Letter No. 98


saturday sunday vienna phone 3650842 sincerely = bernhard

Letter No. 99

[Address: Ohlsdorf; telegram]

Frankfurt am Main
November 18, 1969

coming to ohlsdorf sunday evening november 22 stop request your call thursday morning -- regards unseld

Letter No. 100


Dear Dr. Unseld,

Your visit instilled a fundamental feeling of calm that has yet to dissipate; I am working and every now and then I reflect on what a salutary effect on my entire constitution your visit has had, in that I am now making speedier progress on the book; on the other hand, every hour reaffirms to me the certainty that what I am now working on can only be the beginning of I know not what, and it is excellent to know this and above all to know nothing.1  Once I am finished with the book a comedy will ensue; the whole business surrounding the performance of a play is itself always tantamount to a second comedy; perhaps this second comedy is about how the performance was postponed ad nauseam, but then the performance itself amounts to a separate, third, comedy, and in truth probably every play ever written for the theater has undammed an endless succession of comedies; as we have seen, every tragedy ever written so far has always undammed a flood of comedies.  I thank you for your visit!

The intensity of winter has been transformed into the intensity of labor for me.  That I have doubts about everything every hour is a different matter.  Probably the whole thing amounts to an equilibrium of temerity and doubt.

In Watten I have been unable to avoid detecting several errors, but they can all be weeded out in a subsequent edition.  I could be driven insane by trifles if I didn’t know that it is senseless to get exasperated for days on end over a single alphabetic character.  If you ever put out a so-called omnibus edition, I would ask you to include in it nothing but these three prose pieces--Amras, Ungenach, and Watten, which together would amount to quite a hefty volume that would be more cohesive than any other possible collection.

I would like to have the galley proofs for Boris, because there are still some errors in the stage script.

After The Lime Works, in the immediate backdrop of my imagination, stand the play; another novel, which I already have in my head in its entirety and in all its artlessness-- by which I mean an openness to every possible shade of the fantastic; then a work of largish scale several years from now.

I would especially like to thank you for the books you sent me.

Hölderlin, though, has always struck me as a cold, handsome youth who was never alive.

For the year to come, I have cancelled all readings and declined every single invitation to absolutely everything.

I loathe all speechifying and self-promotion.

You have reason to be proud.2

Yours sincerely,
Thomas Bernhard

  1. Unseld’s Travel Journal for the November 22 meeting in Ohlsdorf reads:
“He had insisted on my visiting him so that we could definitively sort out our relationship; he categorically rejected the contract my lawyer had drawn up.  We then jointly drew up and signed a 12-line agreement of a legally binding character [see the text below Unseld's Note No. 5 below].  From this agreement follow certain consequences that will have to be discussed.  
Our short-term schedule for publication:
  1. A Party for Boris
in the e.s. on the date of the premiere, hence probably in May of 1970.
  1. The third transcribed draft of his new novel, entitled The Lime Works, is complete.  He is working on a fourth complete transcription.  At the end of February of 1970 we shall receive the manuscript.  Prospective publication date: Third Schedule, July 1, 1970.
  2. BS Volume Midland in Stilfs, October 1970.
The volume contains three texts:
  1. “The Weather-proof Cape”
  2. “Midland in Stilfs”
  3. “On the Ortler”
The first and third texts we shall receive in July of ’70.  The version of Midland in Stilfs that appeared in Akzenten can be reissued without changes.
  1. Along with the prose works a 2nd play will be appearing; he will have finished writing it by the end of ’70.
  2. For 1970 we can plan a kind of “Thomas Bernhard Reader” either as a volume of the Books of the 19 [Between 1954 and 1972 a coalition of 19 publishing firms published 209 economy-priced volumes each containing a selection of a given author’s work.  The books in this series were furnished with their own publisher’s mark.] or as a Suhrkamp Book for the Home [Between 1954 and 1975 Suhrkamp issued some extra economy-priced books labeled “Books for the Home”; these were intended to compete with book-club and trade-paperback editions.]   It will contain the novellas Amras, Ungenach, and Watten; an opera libretto (previously published by S. Fischer) [the roses of the wasteland, published in 1959]; the audio play The Mountain.  Marionettes as Human Beings [see Note No. 1 to Letter No. 117]; & other texts.”
The agreement mentioned in the travel journal, which was typed by Bernhard on his own typewriter and signed by him and Unseld, reads:
“Today, 11.22.1969, in Ohlsdorf, Thomas Bernhard and Dr. Siegfried Unseld have agreed to the following:
All the payments granted to Thomas Bernhard by Insel and Surkamp Publications through 8.31 stand for a three-year term (8.31.1972) of publisher’s rights for all books hitherto submitted to the firms.  All revenues from these works will go to the firms.  If the debt has not been paid off by 9.1.1972, the firms will forfeit their claim to the remaining balance of the debt.
In the event of Thomas Bernhard’s death the latter’s heirs are legally bound to resign the publisher’s rights until the debt has been discharged.
Beginning on 9.1.1969 for a period of two years the publisher will issue to Thomas Bernhard an advance on prospective works in the form of a sum of DM 800 per month (punctually, at the beginning of each month).
Signed as a token of our mutual understanding
Ohlsdorf, on 11. 22.1969.”

  1. On the letter there is remark in Unseld’s handwriting: “repld. fr. St. Moritz.”

Letter No. 101

Frankfurt am Main
December 19, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard,

The year 1969 brought us both, I suppose, our “encounter.”  But the year 1970 is decidedly going to be a Thomas Bernhard Year.  I promise you this.

On that note, I send you my sincere regards.

Siegfried Unseld

Letter No. 102

[Handwritten on stationery of the Hotel Belvédère Garni, 7500 St. Moritz]

St. Moritz
December 30, 1969

Dear Mr. Bernhard,

Thank you very much for your letter of 12.16.  I hope for your and my sakes that our plans come to fruition.  In 1970 keep being as productive as you are now: then everything else will turn up and fall into place.

I feel very sincerely attached to you.
Siegfried Unseld  


Translation unauthorized but Copyright ©2014 by Douglas Robertson

Source: Thomas Bernhard.  Siegfried Unseld.  Der Briefwechsel, Herausgegeben von Raimund Fellinger, Martin Huber und Julia Ketterer.  [Thomas Bernhard.  Siegfried Unseld.  The Correspondence, edited by ….] (Frankfurt am Main: Suhrkamp Verlag, 2011), pp. 95-153. 

Apart from interpolations postfixed by the translator's initials (DR), the notes are in substance entirely the work of the editors, but the translator has not scrupled to bring them into line with what he believes to be mainstream editorial practice in the Anglosphere, most signally by moving all instances of the historical present into the simple past. 

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