The Austrian playwright, novelist, and poet Thomas Bernhard (1931-89) is considered a major 20th-century writer. At once pessimistic and enlivening, Bernhard's work depicts the corruption of the modern world, the dynamics of totalitarianism, and the interplay of reality and appearance. In this translation of "The Voice Imitator", Bernhard offers us one of his most darkly-comic works. Composed of a series of parable-like anecdotes - some drawn from newspaper reports, some from conversation, some from hearsay - this satire is both subtle and acerbic. What initially appear to be quaint little stories inevitably indict the sterility and callousness of modern life, not just in urban centres but everywhere. Bernhard presents an ordinary world careening into absurdity and disaster. Politicians, professionals, tourists, civil servants - the usual victims of Bernhard's misanthropy - succumb one after another to madness, mishap, or suicide. The shortest piece, titled "Mail," illustrates the anonymity and alienation that have become standard in contemporary society: "For years after our mother's death, the Post Office still delivered letters that were addressed to her.
The Post Office had taken no notice of her death."