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Embodying achievement: Thomas Bernhard, Elfriede Jelinek, and authorship as a competitive sport

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal article

Published
<mark>Journal publication date</mark>2014
<mark>Journal</mark>Austrian Studies
Volume22
Number of pages18
Pages (from-to)121-138
Publication statusPublished
Original languageEnglish

Abstract

This article engages with the criticism levelled at late twentieth- and early twenty-first century literary prizes in German-speaking Europe. It sets out how comments on the literary industry from contemporary authors and media commentators draw explicitly on the vocabulary of sport, and considers how this feeds into a long-standing discourse on literary prizes and literary value. I examine the notion that the competitive element shared by both sport and neo-capitalist society has undermined the value of literature as a serious intellectual endeavour, and I look at the different ways that Thomas Bernhard and Elfriede Jelinek have engaged with these ideas in their various public expressions of authorship. Both authors not only engage directly with the problems posed by an image- and personality-obsessed society in their reflections on authorship, but also use both their own bodies and the larger body of literature they symbolically represent to argue for the ongoing social relevance of literary pursuits.