Saturday, July 27, 2013

A Translation of Thomas Bernhard's "Notiz" to Der Italiener


In the summer of 1970, after a search that lasted literally days and eventually degenerated into a personally embarrassing farce, a search for a suitable setting for such an undertaking, I [had] unquestioningly sat down on a white park bench in suburban Hamburg in order, as previously stipulated, to utter in the presence of the director Ferry Radax a series of sentences regarding myself, and hence to make statements which while I was uttering and making them I found more or less completely haphazard and incoherent as behooved the nature of the undertaking, just as today I find them more or less haphazard and incoherent now that I have seen the film and heard the remarks made by me in the film.  Many of the things I said on the bench (and hence in the film) in such a way and not another, even if I might have said them in a completely different way in what is published here under the title “Three Days.”  But the fact that a film [has] been made, a film in which for fifty-five continuous minutes my person is seated on a white park bench in suburban Hamburg for no other purpose than to say (or not to say) the first thing that occurs to it, without troubling itself (or being obliged to trouble itself) about why it says what it says or how it says what it says and the fact that the resulting film was ultimately acceptable, immediately led to the idea of writing a longer film, meaning one lasting at least an hour and a half, for this astonishing director and his astonishing manner of working (which I observed during those three days in Hamburg), a film that would be commensurate with this astonishing manner of working.  That idea and [our] delight at the prospect of making such a work qua experiment were the principal impetus[es] to my writing an approximately precise scenario for a film, a scenario sharply diverging from my early, already-forgotten (by me), and very much unfinished fragment “The Italian,” which had suddenly become quite suitable for this purpose, yet basically traceable back to that fragment at each juncture, a scenario for a film that Radax made without my participation over the course of several consecutive weeks in the winter of 1971.

Th. B.

Source: Der Italiener (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1989)Source: Thomas Bernhard. Der Italiener (Frankfurt: Suhrkamp, 1989), pp. 91-92.   This book comprises Bernhard's screenplay to Der Italiener, a film directed by Ferry Radax; a fragment--also entitled Der Italiener--upon which the screenplay is based; Drei Tage (Three Days)a modified transcript of a monologue delivered by Bernhard in an another film directed by Radax; and the above afterword by Bernhard.  A complete translation of the book in PDF format is available here.

Translation unauthorized but Copyright ©2013 by Douglas Robertson  

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