Elfriede’s Blog

April 26, 2007 at 3:54 pm | Posted in Austria, Blogging, Literature | 8 Comments
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Elfriede JelinekAnd for a brief moment I thought I had discovered Elfriede Jelinek‘s blog. Why, after all, should she not have one, forefront thinker, Nobel Prize winner after all? Amazing enough: She’s going to turn 61 this year. Can’t be, she’s pegged in my mind as a perpetual 40 (image to the left shows her in 2000, age 53, and still she looks like 40).

The thing about Elfriede: I am glad I do not (have to) write the way or the stuff she does. Although I LOVE the way she writes (but would be unable to defend it). I can see and measure the depths from which she is reporting, but I wouldn’t want to go down there myself. I think I’d lose my mind. It is a selfish approach, but whenever I read a piece by her, I disregard the literary message and try to relate to the person behind the text. That is what interests me most, her texts are barriers, and I have never been particularly impressed by those barrier-type texts (think: Ingeborg Bachmann, that other Austrian writer, which, if you would forgive me, I was never able to make sense of), but I always imagined to have a vague sense of the person BEHIND those texts. I would so much like to meet her one day, but of course that is not very likely. And meet her the way I’d like to meet her is completely ruled out: a friendly conversation about nothing in which we would have to have some OTHER thing to look at, to distract us and deflect our conversation from the actual encounter. This year’s opera ball would have been a splendid opportunity, we could have made fun of Paris Hilton and have used these jokes as a foot path to deeper conversations… just a dream of course.

And now I found her ‘blog’, but only to discover that it is none. Her so-called blog is hosted on a really sweet compuserve address, http://ourworld.compuserve.com/homepages/elfriede/. In spite of the name of the address, it does not reveal a single word of her, it all stays carefully fictional. Worst of all, it specifies theater@rowohlt.de as contact address – rowohlt being one of the key German publishing houses. Dream on, my soul – there are thousands of women (probably not too many men) writers out there who would love to establish personal contact with Elfriede – and it’s just not gonna happen that easy. And of course she (or her publisher) are going to protect any of her words in as much as possible.

But deep inside myself, I hope that she has an anonymous blog where she doesn’t present herself as a Nobel prize winning author, but where she simply writes about the boring things that happen in any blogger’s life (and how cool would it be if found that blog:-)


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  1. Jelinek is such an amazing writer and, as you said, it’s impossible to really say or defend one’s admiration for her. Her style is brutal, her subject matter is often the most terrifying things about ourselves and our world that we normally would never dare think about—let alone write about. I think that is why I so admire her: she creates these worlds that are necessary in order to get certain truths about our own world across, fictional worlds that (as you say) might very well resemble textual barriers, or even prisons, in which we get caged. I think the design of that is wonderful, forcing the reader into a relation—a stylistically inhibiting one at that—with that from which he or she would normally flee. She is a courageous writer, definitely worthy of that Nobel despite all the naysayers.

    Perhaps the blog as fictional outlet or even fictional persona is part of that project of disorientation which she seems keen on representing fictionally. It’s certainly better to think of it in terms of that then in terms of potential pressure from her publisher not to take off that fictional mask of hers.

  2. Yes, I (would like to) believe that it is exactly that: “part of that project of disorientation” and I didn’t assume that her publisher pushes her (btw: I always wonder how one ends up with such conclusions, certain assumptions about people that one doesn’t know and without which the whole celebrity system wouldn’t work) – I just hoped to catch a glimpse of the someone/thing behind the fictional persona. But alas, no one / nothing….

  3. what did you think about ”Le Pianiste”?

  4. If you’re talking about the film: I haven’t seen it. The novel was my very first encounter with Elfriede (and I think that Lenina gave it to me, but that’s well 10 years ago, so I am not sure) and shocked an intrigued me at the same time. I didn’t like the recapitulation of the protagonist’s childhood (dunno whether that’s in the movie) because I’m tired of renditions of deviant sexuality that are tied to a biographic justification. Apart from that, it was the deviant depiction of female sexuality that hooked me – even though I couldn’t read the thing in one go. I often have to stop when I read novels or watch DVDs), and I think that’s when I think to have detected the author’s direction (rather than intention) – I hate the idea of fate (rather: rationalization according to a particular regime of thought), and often the intention/direction presents itself as some sort of fate, of which ever denomination. In the case of Die Klavierspielerin, it was female masochism – at the same time, certainly not as unbearable as Cabbage’s naturalist novels;-)

    Btw, I am watching Så som i himmelen http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0382330/ right now and almost genuinely hate it because it’s so contrived that I have to stop every 10 minutes (and that with me being a choir singer). Never watch a ‘sophisticated feel-good movie’.

  5. Well I haven’t read the book but I must because the film was tremendous. And it had to do something with affirming her ”death drive”, showing her as a heroine actually, precisely for being such a masochist. But I have to think about it some more before I can churn out a half-decent thesis. Gezellig he?

  6. And I regret tremendously that, over the years, I’ve somehow lost my literary analysis vocabulary… I’d really like to be able to put my finger better on what is going on in that novel regardind the construction of the feminine death wish – does the film have the teenage self-mutilation plot line as well?

    Benevens, heb je een goede vertaling van gezellig naar het Engels?

  7. hey!! did you find a way to approach her? I’ll be in Europe soon, and would love to meet her…not as high expectation as chatting with her, but at least signing some of my books…well….

    • She’s a recluse.

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