Old Masters (1985) is Thomas Bernhard's devilishly funny story about the friendship between two old men. For over thirty years Reger, a music critic, has sat on the same bench in front of a Tintoretto painting in a Viennese museum, thinking and railing against contemporary society, his fellow men, artists, the weather, even the state of public lavatories. His friend Atzbacher has been summoned to meet him, and through his eyes we learn more about Reger - the tragic death of his wife, his thoughts of suicide and, eventually, the true purpose of their appointment. At once pessimistic and exuberant, rancorous and hilarious, Old Masters is a richly satirical portrait of culture, genius, nationhood, class, the value of art and the pretensions of humanity.
Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989) was one of the greatest German-language novelists and playwrights of the 20th century. Much hated in his native Austria for his highly inventive derision for all things Austrian (which culminated in his will, which banned further publication of his work there), Bernhard wrote a series of harsh, inventive and brilliant novels, including Gargoyles Correction, Wittgenstein's Nephew, Old Masters, Yes and Extinction.