Monday, May 05, 2014

A Translation of "Verbot," a 1984 letter from Thomas Bernhard to the editors of Die Presse

Interdiction [1]

I have given my German publisher Unseld immediately effective instructions not to issue my books in Austria for the duration of the legal copyright, in other words from today onwards until 75 years after my death.   This interdiction of publication applies in every single jurisdiction of Austria and to every single one of my books.

As the Austrian government’s interest in me and my work has for decades consisted exclusively in dragging me and my work into court from time to time, my decision is merely logical.

For the fourth and not the first time, I am now being subjected in my capacity as an author to one of these ridiculous multi-year trials for which the government of this country is responsible.

Regard for the state of my health alone precludes me from indulging in degrading and humiliating trials of this sort, which could never possibly take place in any other central European country.

Thomas Bernhard

[1] Editors' note: First published in Die Presse, Vienna, November 9, 1984.  The letter was printed below the headline Bernhard Prohibits Publication of His Books in Austria and the following prefatory remark: “In a statement sent to Die Presse on Thursday, the Austrian author Thomas Bernhard announced that he had instructed his publisher Siegfried Unseld of the Frankfurt-based firm Suhrkamp to cease issuing his books in Austria.  The statement, entitled ‘Interdiction,’ is connected with the confiscation of Bernhard’s latest book Woodcutters and reads as follows:”


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), p. 225.

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