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de-pianiste

Erika Kohut is na een mislukte solistencarrière pianolerares geworden en woont weer bij haar moeder in een Weense woonwijk in verval. Op weg van werk naar huis bezoekt ze peepshows en 's nachts bespiedt ze hoeren bij hun werk. Ze blijft er schijnbaar gevoelloos onder. Wanneer een leerling verliefd op haar wordt neemt Erika de regie in eigen handen. Ze schrijft hem een brieErika Kohut is na een mislukte solistencarrière pianolerares geworden en woont weer bij haar moeder in een Weense woonwijk in verval. Op weg van werk naar huis bezoekt ze peepshows en 's nachts bespiedt ze hoeren bij hun werk. Ze blijft er schijnbaar gevoelloos onder. Wanneer een leerling verliefd op haar wordt neemt Erika de regie in eigen handen. Ze schrijft hem een brief waarin ze hem precies vertelt hoe hij haar moet vernederen. Hij beantwoordt haar gevoelens met banaal geweld en laat haar op de vloer van haar kamer achter.Jelinek beschrijft in scherpe beelden een beschadigd leven, waarvan het meest schrikwekkende misschien de herkenbaarheid is. De pianiste werd verfilmd en won in Cannes een Gouden Palm voor beste actrice, beste acteur en de Grote Jury Prijs.Elfriede Jelinek won in 2004 de Nobelprijs voor literatuur....

Title : De pianiste
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ISBN : 9789041708427
Format Type : Mass Market Paperback
Number of Pages : 339 Pages
Status : Available For Download
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De pianiste Reviews

  • Issa Deerbany
    2018-11-13 22:47

    الرواية عبارة عن تحليلات نفسية ، اعتقد انها زادت كثيرا عن المطلوب.اريكا معلمة البيانو المقموعة منذ الطفولة من قبل أمها وجدتها لتصبح موسيقية عبقرية ولا تنشغل باللهو عن ذلك. ولكن اصبحت موسيقية بارعة ولا تصل الى حد العبقرية.المعلمة تعيش حياتين ، واحدة تظهر بها امام المجتمع كمعلمة محترفة للموسيقيين شباب. وفِي السر تعمل أشياء تعافها النفس ويبدو ان تربيتها والضغط عليها جعلها تعيش هذه الحياة، فالمجتمع حولها منافق وهي يجب ان تكون منافقة.حتى عندما يدخل الرجل بسلطته في حياة اريكا تريد منه حياتين واحدة امام المجتمع والأخرى سرية مليئة بالسادية والافعال حتى الرجل الذي كان يريد ان يقدم الحب ويناله بالمقابل فتفاجأ بطلبات يشمئز منها.الام دائما نحاول طرد الرجل من حياة ابنتها وحتى اَي وسائل لهو اخرى تحاول ان تبعد ابنتها عنها وسيطرتها عليها.اُسلوب الكاتبة معقد ومليء بالسرد الممل حول نقاط أشبعتها سردا طوال الرواية.نقد المجتمع النمساوي ظاهر في احداث الرواية واتهامه بالنفاق والازدواجية.

  • Paul Bryant
    2018-11-20 19:57

    A bit like the moment in The Gold Rush where Charlie Chaplin opens his cabin door and the howling gale blasts him across the room and he spends the next five minutes trying to shut the door again – so many raging roaring ideas came hurtling out of these pages that I struggled to close the book at all. Actually, that’s not the right image! Too healthy! It was more like one of those exhibitions of biological curiosities you got in some old teaching hospitals, somewhat frowned upon now, I imagine. Something in a huge murky jar which you flinch from and turn away, sickened. Well, it was a combination of insane howling tempest and formaldehyded grotesquerie. It was both at the same time.SOMETIMES IT SEEMS THAT WOMEN DON’T MAKE IT EASY FOR THEMSELVESThat’s a bit of a sexist generalisation, maybe, but I give youThe Story of O by Pauline ReageAmerican Psycho directed by Mary Harron50 Shades of Gray by E L JamesTopping from Below by Laura ReeseAnd nowThe Piano Teacher by Elfriede JelinekThese women should be busted for aiding and abetting the enemy. (Story of O, for instance, was written by a woman to rekindle the waning interest of her lover – how gross is that?). Men are quite capable, indeed very eager, to create books and movies portraying women as secretly desiring abusive violent behaviour due to their strong innate masochistic tendencies (Blue Velvet, Lust Caution, Bitter Moon, Secretary) without women helping the men by handing them live ammunition. Intellectual men will read stuff like The Piano Teacher and Story of O; and although they won’t read 50 Shades they will note the amazing success of that book, and that its readers are 99% female; so these things become the cultural background radiation of our times; and the idea gets around that on some level maybe women actually want to be dominated and mistreated, whatever they might say with their feminist voices. Treat em mean and keep em keen. So you get a situation where the grisly Robin Thicke gets caned up and down the land for his dreadful song Blurred Lines (and the video)You the hottest bitch in this placeI feel so luckyyou're an animal, baby it's in your natureJust let me liberate youI'll give you something big enough to tear your ass in twoSwag on, even when you dress casualI mean it's almost unbearableNothing like your last guy, he too square for youHe don't smack that ass and pull your hair like thatI know you want itEtc etcWhilst at the same time these high culture depictions of female masochism like Story of O and The Piano Teacher (not to mention the writings of de Sade) are strongly defended, and Mary Harron’s film of American Psycho is parlayed into some kind of feminist statement.(Non-intellectual men won’t be reading any of this stuff, they’ll be playing Grand Theft Auto and pretending to kill hookers they’ve taken hostage.) So that’s the case for the prosecution. The Piano Teacher, whatever it may be, is not helping.CASE FOR THE DEFENCEThe introduction saysThis book does not set out to please or entertain the reader. It does, though set out to reveal all kinds of uncomfortable truthsA NYT critic wroteMany, particularly in academic circles, believe she has achieved a triumphant combination of avant-garde technique and progressive social criticism.The Nobel prize committee wrote :for her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society’s clichés and their subjugating power(Wiki adds : However one member of the Nobel Committee resigned over this decision, describing Jelinek’s work as “whining, unenjoyable public pornography” and “a mass of text shoveled together without artistic structure.” )In some way this 300 page descent into extreme female masochism is supposed to be a protest against patriarchy, or fascism, or Austria, or male sexuality. This reading would set The Piano Teacher next to Ariel by Sylvia Plath, and would note her suicide – examples of male oppression being internalised to the extent that women become self-haters. Myself I think a healthier response to male oppression was provided by Aileen Wuornos.I THINK IT’S TRUE TO SAY THAT EVERY SENTENCE IN THIS NOVEL IS UNPLEASANT TO READ. There may be two or three exceptions. Our author’s voice is present-tense horrified-repulsed-lascivious-demented-sneery commentary. The author’s voice is as horrible as the main character is crazy. For pages at a time it’s only possible to glean a general sense of what’s happening. It often gets very close to complete gibberish. Most of the time you get a ranting commentary on Erica which is made up of an unceasing flood of metaphors which change or get dropped mid-paragraph and never quite make sense. Here are some of my favourite DAFT SENTENCES. Because of the style, it’s sometimes hard to tell if this stuff is supposed to be a reflection of the character’s diseased brains or is a comment by the author. Also, it is impossible for me to say if this translation is by someone who was unable to write a non-contorted straightforward sentence in English; or if Elfriede Jelinek wanted to sound like an earnest Martian who has not quite mastered Earth languages yet. So with those caveats, I give you my top thirteen.THE FEEDBAGS OF MATERNAL DETRITUSStriding along, Erica hates that porous, rancid fruit that marks the bottom of her abdomen.Simply by living his own life, he has created his own sperm, arduously and tediously.Her body is one big refrigerator, where Art is stored.Erika distrusts young girls; she tries to gauge their clothing and physical dimensions, hoping to ridicule them.Turkish men don’t like women; they never suffer their company willingly.Mother smacks away at the loosened hairdo of the late-season fruit of her womb.Erika’s will shall be the lamb that nestles down with the lion of maternal will. This gesture of humility will prevent the maternal will from shredding the soft, unformed filial will and munching on its bloody limbs.She stands on the floor like a much-used flute that has to deny itself, because otherwise it could not endure the many dilettantish lips that keep wanting to take it in.You can capture any woman if you exploit her awareness of her own physical inadequacies.A man who meticulously slices up his wife and children and then stores them in the refrigerator in order to eat them later on is no more barbaric than the newspaper that runs the item.She yearns for a man who knows a lot and can play the violin. Once she bags him, he’ll caress her. That mountain goat, ready to flee, is already clambering through the detritus, but he doesn’t have the strength to track down her femininity, which lies buried in the detritus. She is one of those people who lead and guide most people. Sucked into the vacuum of the absolute inertia of her body, she shoots out of the bottle when it opens, and she is then flung into a previously selected or unexpected alien existence.[After a performance of Bach] Both performers rise from their stools and bow their heads. They are patient horses sticking their noses into the feedbags of everyday life, which has reawakened.GIVE ME A BREAKThe Piano Teacher, then, is the rancid fruit in the feedbag at the bottom of my abdomen.

  • Traveller
    2018-11-25 18:32

    Are our children ever our property? Is it ever justifiable for one human being to take possession of another human's will and freedom; is it okay to retain another human being for our own personal use, like you would do with a motor vehicle or a cup or a comb? Even when that human being belongs to another nation, or is our own child? There is currently a world-wide ban against making slaves of persons belonging to other nationalities, though there is not yet consensus about making 'slaves' of other species, or of our own children.Some people are even more passionate against making captives of wild animals, against torturing them with an unnatural existence and having us preside over the fate of their life or death, than they are about doing these things to human beings. His vision, from the constantly passing bars,has grown so weary that it cannot holdanything else. It seems to him there area thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,the movement of his powerful soft stridesis like a ritual dance around a centerin which a mighty will stands paralyzed.Only at times, the curtain of the pupilslifts, quietly--. An image enters in,rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,plunges into the heart and is gone. The Panther--Rainer Maria RilkeOne thing that Erika Kohut cannot do, is to give of herself, because there is no self to give from. Erika's self has never had a chance to come out from behind the bars of maternal protection, has never had a chance to stretch itself fully, in the light. Has never had a chance to feel the stretching and contraction of emotional muscles in action, and so, confined by the tight bars of her prison, the muscles of Erika's self have atrophied and withered away in the darkness, until all that was left was Mother and the great heights of The Mission. Erika has failed in her Mission, constructed and assigned by Motherdear: of becoming a famous and revered concert pianist. Not that Erika has not busted a gut trying: practicing the piano is all she has been doing since her pre-schooler years, literally. There is no space for anything else, because even if we had the time to do anything but practice, we dare not do so, for any slightly robust activity might cause the child to injure her precious ten-tipped tools; and then, what would be left in the world for Erika and Motherdear? Just one another, the television screen and sour gum bon-bons. Not even poor Father, because he exited soon after daughter Erika entered the familial bed - he was taken to the mental health funny-farm in the back of the pig-butcher's truck.This novel is starkly unforgiving in showing us the interior world of Viennese culture and the world of music professor Erika, her mother, and Erika's student and love-object Walter Klemmer. Three is a crowd, they say, but who is the superfluous one in this uncomfortable ménage à trois?In Motherdear's methodology of smothering her child's will to independence, I was reminded of the terrifying image of a Muslim mother who, after her daughter became pregnant due to having been raped by her sons, decided to erase the stain from the family honor by taking action herself, and proceeded to cover the head of her pregnant daughter with plastic bags, subduing her with blows from a mallet, and squeezing the bags down over her face, holding and holding and holding it there until Daughterdear stopped twitching and kicking. This mother was not incarcerated for this murder, because our children are our possessions, are they not?Mother in The Piano Teacher doesn't do this physically speaking, of course, but perhaps the pregnant daughter stifled by the plastic bags, had a quicker out than Erika has. Because Erika cannot feel anything anymore beyond rudimentary pain, and even her pain has become a distanced thing, something that has to be given expression by cutting or pricking herself, because Erika cannot vocalize emotions or recognize them in their direct emotional form. Once upon a time she still longed to get away from piano practice sessions to play outside with other young people, but those urges are now long gone. The urges knocking and pushing to come out now, are met with a blind wall, a wall where there is no opening. They cannot come out anymore, no matter where Erika cuts herself, because she has had to build a wall around them. She has had to wall off the filth inside her, like an obedient child. Oh, not that she hasn't kicked against the walls of her tight prison, not that she hasn't rebelled, showing her rebellion now and then by buying one of the frivolous, wasteful pieces of clothing that Motherdear hates so much. Of course, such purchases are met with blows and kicks and screeches, and often, Motherdear takes revenge for Erika's arriving home late (even at age 35) by shredding some of these beloved pieces of clothing, shredding the symbol of rebellion; the only thing that Erika has that is hers, that doesn't belong to Motherdear.So is it a wonder then, that anything as 'filthy' and rebellious and natural as sexual urges, builds up and up and roils around inside blindly not knowing where to go? Urges which cannot find any expression, because Mother guards those hands day and night, literally checking that hands stay above board at night from her co-position in the shared maternal bed. We know how to look, but we know we should not touch. So, when we feel aroused through Peeping Tom activities, or by the beauty of music, the only way we can find expression, is to relieve internal pressure by relieving our bladder. This activity is allowed, and so, this has become symbolic of relieving pressure. I reckon it's not a co-incidence that the urethral phase is the Freudian stage of separation anxiety. I guess it's just another (and rather superfluous under the circumstances) way of Jelinek telling us that Erika had become frozen in the urethral stage--unable to deal with separation anxiety. Some of this novel seems to be autobiographical, since Jelinek herself studied music as a result of her own overbearing Motherdear's desires. Jelinek had to stop her studies and retire back under the maternal wing (from whence she eventually launched her writing career) due to 'an anxiety disorder'. Her own father also ended up in a mental institution, and although Jelinek eventually married, she remained living with her mother, only visiting her husband on weekends, right up to her mother's death.As such, I need to mention that this novel is not erotica, and I mean not even for BDSM lovers, since sexual titillation is not what the book is about, but it is closer to being a psychological study, almost a dark avant garde memoir clad as fiction, with deep characterization. The novel is written in non-linear form, but without making use of 'flashbacks'; relying purely on contextual evidence to orient us towards where in the narrative we are from a temporal point of view. This adds to the experimental feel of the prose that is written from the viewpoint of an omniscient narrator who speaks the thoughts of the characters so loudly and with such seamless transitions, in a less subtle version of Virginia Woolfe's stream of consciousnesss style, that one often finds it hard to distinguish who is 'thinking' and whether it is Jelinek's or the character's ideas and thoughts that we are reading. As with Joyce's Ulysses, one eventually becomes accustomed to this stylistic quirk.The novel is a stark condemnation of the negative aspects of the patriarchal, puritanical side of traditional Teutonic society which denies nature as something ugly and filthy and in which cultural structures of power, control and submission, always angles hierarchical structures to respect age over youth, male over female, and tends to twist natural human relations into contorted shapes in order to conform to societal pressures.One of the recurring themes in the novel, is scenes depicting parents hitting their children; no wonder these kinds of behaviour breeds and perpetuates a culture of violence.The novel is also a socialist critique of bourgeoisie culture and the elevated status that classical music enjoys in the Viennese society that Erika grew up in. (Jelinek lived in Munich, but her grandparents were Austrian, and she seemed to have a bee in her bonnet about destroying popular images and conceptions of Austria as an idyllic place.)The sharp hyper-realism of Jelinek's strokes reminded me very much of the art of Frida Kahlo, who, judging from photographs, tended to paint herself in a harsh unflattering light. Erika reminded me of this work by Kahlo:The 'hyper-realist' feel of the novel has to do with the fact that Jelinek's artistic perspective was indeed an attempt at a literary version of Kahlo's artistic 'honesty'. Jelinek purposely focuses on the ugliness of everything in order to offer the reader no retreat, to force the reader to face the harsh 'reality' of the psychological landscape she paints, leaving us no option but to see its ugliness.The problem is that the human psyche cannot be painted in flat, realistic tones, because it is always an onion with layers. (With credit to Shrek for the latter observation.) The novel is unrelenting in its characterization, giving no quarter to any of the main characters: we see no redeeming qualities in the small, petty, selfish world of Motherdear's pathetic existence, and although we might feel twinges of sympathy for Erika at times, make no mistake that she is drawn relentlessly with harsh clear strokes, allowing no room for rose-tinted glasses: we see Erika in all of her inner ugliness in which there is yet intrinsically pathos--but there is no heroism, no reprieve, no redeeming qualities; just deep frustrated need--a need for love and recognition that Walter is unable to meet, because he himself is needy; he needs a mother-like love and he needs recognition and admiration from an authority figure in order to bolster his shaky self-esteem--something which older Erika cannot give because she herself is unable to give; she is emotionally and sexually a frozen being. She is also even less able than Walter to initiate loving, mutually reciprocal relations when it comes to love or sex.After all, the only thing that Erika has had any experience of doing, lies in the structures of dominance and subjugation. Erika has been taught that extreme subjugation to imprisonment and abuse, is the way to procure love--Motherdear has taught us this, and this is the recipe that has worked in getting Motherdear's love, so why is Walter not seeing extreme subjugation as love and acceptance? Erika does not understand.I feel that part of the social and to some extent feminist commentary in the text, lies with the fact that the only sexual role that Erika sees open for herself as a woman, is that of subjugation, a role she imagines will bring her love. This is not only a commentary on sexual roles, but also of the authoritarian Teutonic way of doing, where everything exists in terms or power and domination, and firstly maleness/machismo and then age determines your place in the pecking order of society.There are some interpretations that would have it that Erika is just intrinsically kinky, but Erika's behaviour can clearly be linked to her socialization process with Mother. Mother says she loves Erika, but Mother also hits Erika, even as an adult, and so Erika has learned to associate love with captivity and physical abuse: " His voice is almost toneless. Erika knows that tone from her mother. I hope Klemmer won’t hit me, she thinks fearfully. Please note that since we're talking about something as unpredictable and as yet not a fully charted landscape as the human psyche, that my interpretations of the character's behaviours are only some interpretations out of a myriad of possibilities.Another interpretation of Erika's behavior, (which I think is also plausible and does not necessarily collide with my interpretation), is that masochism is ultimately manipulative behaviour, which seems to fit, because the submissive seems to believe that they are procuring love with their submissive behaviour, but this argument loses me in the extension that the 'sub' in a sadomasochistic relationship, is actually per se the dominating partner. (view spoiler)[ Hmm. I think that I can go with that in that in this novel, Erika thought that she would be able to manipulate Walter and elicit love from him in the same way that she does with Mother, via apparent subjugation of herself. This apparently failed because Walter realized she was trying to manipulate him, and he rejected that version of their dynamic by re-asserting his own dominance by first rejecting her demands, and then foisting an approximation of these demands upon her but at his convenience, and I can agree with this interpretation to some extent, but I think the Walter/Erika dynamic is possibly even more complex than just that. (And I know there is an establishment review out there that suggests certain interpretations, but the writer of that review is under the impression that Klemmer's main sport is hockey, for f's sake! (Among other misreadings) So there was definitely not a close reading there).A close reading of the text takes me back to the scenario where I feel that Walter's overriding requirement from his relationship with Erika is a situation where he gets to shine, but in the presence of a quasi-maternal authority-figure, which is how Erika must have appeared to him in the classroom situation. So he basically wanted to get it off with the teacher, who suddenly is not acting like the teacher anymore. She tended to be superior and cold towards him and to criticize him in the classroom, but he wants to maneuver her into a position where she is going to give him warm approval and acceptance.But also, what Walter needed Erika to do, was to react to him in a reciprocal way, and I don't think we should condemn him for feeling repulsed by Erika's demands beyond that we might condemn him for being judgmental, because in Erika's scenario, as he voices the result himself: "What do I get out of all this?" In Erika's scenario, not only does he have to act in ways that feel 'unnatural' to him, but he doesn't emotionally receive any of the things he had been looking for from the relationship.When Erika and Walter are in her room the first time, when they shut Mother out via the wardrobe in front of the door, "The woman has made contact with him in writing, but a simple touch would have scored a lot more points. She deliberately refused to take the path of tender female touching. Yet she seems to be in basic agreement with his lust. He reaches for her, she doesn’t reach for him. That cools him off. "This and other sections where it is mentioned that Klemmer wants something 'real' from Erika, suggests to me that it is Erika's emotional and sexual passivity and inability to feel, to respond appropriately, and 'give' of herself that frustrates him. One could argue that Erika is withholding from him as an act of passive aggression which the 'establishment' review I read seems to suggest, but my feeling is yet again that this is not so. It seems to me that Erika's pain and her yearning are real. But human beings 'learn' relationship behaviour along with all our other social behaviour in a process called socialization, which is a process that all mammals undergo, and it is learned from the senior members of a community, most often the parents. Since Erika's father was absent and she had spent her entire life in a tightly controlled relationship with Mother, she would have learned most of her socialization from her mother. So, in Erika's world, subjugating herself in this manner, is the only act of 'love' that she knows, and in this lies the pathos of the character for me, and even some social commentary and some feminist commentary.(hide spoiler)]If Erika does not have the sharpest of self-insight, I don't think one should conclude this about Jelinek, who seems to be painfully aware of Erika's shortcomings, for instance, since nobody else seems to really appreciate poor Erika's playing, it appears as if Mom is controlling her by being the only one who does, in fact, praise her playing. So Mommy dearest's wing seems warm and re-assuring, because it allows Erika to hide in her illusion of being a great and wonderful piano player. One suspects that the reason as to why Erika isn't a great player, lies in the clue Erika gives about her playing: she cannot 'submit' to the composer, which I think means that she cannot give feeling to her interpretation, because Erika cannot give herself to feelings, she has been trained to cut herself off from them.Another instance of how Jelinek has insight but Erika hasn't, lies in how we see and hear people sniggering at her attempts to "dolly herself up", whereas Erika herself thinks she did a fine job.This brings me to the prickly subject of the aggressive and in some instances, cruel and sadistic acts that Erika performs on unsuspecting people around her. I really hope that Erika's sadistic acts, especially one revealed towards the end of the novel, are fictional, because some of these acts are truly ugly.So, partly autobiographical as the character of Erika may be, she is definitely not shown in a sympathetic light, which brings me to how I should rate this book.BOTTOM LINE:If I were to rate the novel according to my enjoyment factor, I would rate it one star, because as a few friends have said, this book is ugly in almost every aspect. If I were to rate it as an intelligent, uncompromising attack on certain aspects of Germanic society, and a hyper-realist look at Jelinek's own situation in life, and an insightful and heart-wrenching exposè of some of the possible causes of sadomasochistic and self-harming behaviour, as well as an uncompromising look into the pain of a damaged person, I'd give it 5 stars. As it is, I think I'm inclined to give it something in between. I have to take at least one star off for the ugliness, for having had to live through the experience of Jelinek forcing me to look through those darkly stained glasses through which Mother makes us look at the world.I think Jelinek would understand. ;)(view spoiler)[ I wonder if I should warn people that this book is not erotica? Hehe.(hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Aubrey
    2018-11-18 18:47

    Show, not tell. The eternal plaint of literature. Do not tell us of the parade; bleed our ears to the beat of cacophony. Do not list out the throes of death; pierce our lungs and tie them up behind our backs. Do not speak of emotions with a single word; grip our hearts and plunge them into the carefully calibrated abyss.Well, alright. Let me give that a try.People say, oh, the joys of music! People sigh, oh, the mystic devotion of motherhood! People scream, oh, the sacrilegious desensitization of modern society! People mutter, oh, the banal unknowns of sexual proclivity. People think, oh, the place for man, and the place for woman.Align yourself in pursuit of Art, snip and stretch and crack the lazy spine into proper positioning till you soar high, high above the masses in your ability to listen, replicate, understand. Seek meaning in every pain and pain in every meaning, and you will begin to perceive the discontent that drove the masters, those divinities so much better than the uncouth animals slobbering over the music they left behind. Throw your all into it, gild and grate your sanity into perfect form, and laugh at those whose pitiful minds cannot handle the wondrous Truth. Never mind the banalities of evil that crop up in the beginning, those will soon recede before the tide of the Greater Things in Life. In awareness, at least.There is a singular feeling to be found in those who know their mother well, well enough to register their status as a financial investment in her eyes. Step to the beat, clap to the rhythm, and she will assume you functional; a working appliance does not require attention. Break from the track, run around on newfound legs and divest yourself in dividends undesirable to the maternal streak, and watch as the furious threats and emotional gutting chases after the errant child, determined to slap and beat and bunch it back into shape. How embarrassing! It seems, despite all that she has given it in the form of monetary stimulation and business schedule counseling and a dash of 'Iloveyous' when a debt needs to be filled, it has not yet been housebroken. Back to the pruning it goes, fill its head with thoughts of homelessness and disgrace, then place a sack of cash at the end of the track. Who wouldn't do anything for money? Those who value healthy emotional rapport over commercial value? Ha ha, nonsense! Mommie knows best.Society isn't desensitized. The social construct is simply content with its vague descriptions of horrors in a meaningless void of sound and fury, its fuzzy images that fetishize the physical antagonist, its panderings at atrocious thrills that spawn emulation rather than disgust. Because as soon as a book like this comes along that portrays verbal abuse, emotional manipulation, casual rape, and so many more of the dregs in full relief, in lurid detail lit not by candlelight but a spotlight seeking out the drippings and punctures of every orifice, many shy away. Show, not tell, remember? Careful that you don't eat your words in panicked offense. No one said you were allowed to comfortably watch from the fully furnished box, high up in the usual lofty assuredness of the Reader-God, sanitized and sanctified by virtue of distance. No one said you weren't going to participate.That includes the sex, and the sexual build up, and the sexual reasoning, and the sexual genders, and the sexual expectations of said genders, and the sexual expectations of who controls whom, and for how long, and what goes where, and how the violence is to be rendered, and the methods by which the violations are to be conducted, and what gets mixed up in the mind and sludges itself down into the genitals, and the pain. Above all, the pain. Who plays, whom they play, and how. Human being, so confident in your non-objectified status, so content in the unexamined life, so ignorant of your inner mechanisms where bone runs to blood and nurture squares off with nature on the battlefield of desire, rampant where limits are a thing unknown for all the audience may shrill and bleat. Are you sure?

  • Lisa
    2018-11-26 17:47

    I rarely think of Elfriede Jelinek anymore. She used to be my favourite pet hate for a couple of years after she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature. Somehow I was reconciled with her in the year 2016. After all, she is an intelligent, talented woman who can write unbearably painful, yet eloquent and sophisticated prose. I don't like her writing, but she undoubtedly is a skilled and interesting author. She may deserve a Nobel Prize in Literature for that. So, peace made!Today I reviewed my all time pet hate Strindberg, one of the authors I have loved to torture myself with since adolescence. His vitriolic, evil brilliance just defies my need for rational, aesthetic AND emotional approval. I keep reading him, and hating him, and admiring him, year after year. All of a sudden I realised that I have exactly the same relationship to Elfriede Jelinek, but that I am much less forgiving of her hatred, despite understanding it better than Strindberg's privileged whining. How come? Am I less tolerant towards brutal women? No. I don't think so. I was perfectly honest about my dislike of The Wasp Factory for its silly, gratuitous violence. And Banks' writing skills are not even close to Jelinek's.What is it then?My reading of Strindberg's I havsbandet made me come up with an idea. I did not take his hatred seriously, being so closely linked to his fears and need for control, and so little connected to how women actually are in real life.I do take Jelinek's descriptions of male-female relationships seriously, though. And therefore she causes me to feel more pain. I find it hard to distance myself from her brutal vision of sexual dominance and dependence, from the family relationships she describes that are defined by bonds of eternal hatred and humiliation. She gets under my skin the moment I start reading. And she is not exactly the kind of person whom I appreciate to feel under my skin. Therefore, as I am afraid of her crystal clear and dark observations, I do what Strindberg did: I hate what I fear.I cannot despise it, however. It is too good for that. She proves her superiority by carefully painting a picture showing her inferiority.

  • Dolors
    2018-11-27 19:59

    “I am convinced the most unfortunate people are those who would make an art of love. It sours other effort. Of all artists, they are certainly the most wretched.” Norman MailerErika Kohut, the piano teacher, is an instrument of nature aiming solely for artistic cleanliness. She is an outstanding interpreter but won’t ever be able to perform. Her soul has been sucked dry and her mind has been poisoned by a sadistic upbringing, damaging permanently the neuronal connection that unites music and humanity. She could have been a brilliant concertist, but her inability to feel, her incapability to express emotion after years of submission and mistreatment relegates her to a teaching position, which is ideal to refract her own frustrations onto her “working third-class” students and find creative forms of debasement as if she were writing the most sublime sonatas of repression and the most magnificent symphonies of abuse.Music arises as a metaphor for human behavior and its inclinations. From rebel and sensual Schubert to the safety of technical perfection of Schumann, from passion and pain to intellect and security, from the most cultured, refined and pure musical magnificence to the most dissonant shriek of gruesome violence, Erika embodies a musical bipolarity in a crude first person atemporal narration veering between prose and poetry.Erika Kohut, the piano teacher, is a deeply disturbed woman trapped in an obsessive love-hate relationship with her sickly controlling mother, maximum manifestation of a tainted society, who deprived Erika from her childhood, from her self-respect and her independence because of a perverse and selfish fixation for her daughter to become a talented musician, creating an unnatural bond between the two women, which leads to the complete annulment of Erika as a human being.As “an insect encased in amber, timeless and ageless”, Erika is baked inside the cake pan of eternity. She is condemned to a withered existence, devoid of any hint of warmth, where only a vacuous flow of a systematic routine mercilessly torments her and fosters her libidinous instincts rooted deep in her entrails after suffering from decades of repression by her twisted mother.No male members are allowed in their small apartment, only the ghost of a father-husband figure hovering around vaguely with no consequence after his death in a mental institution a long time ago. Erika’s life is reduced to piano lessons and buying dresses she won’t ever wear as an act of defiance against her stingy mother, on whom she depends in a pathological, submissive and almost erotically incestuous way.Erika Kohut, the piano teacher, paints her life in circular motions framing indistinct moments as theatrical scenes and random shots of a putrescent world, where animal life rules implacably and predators hunt down their prey and copulation is an act of dominance and no spring breezes awaken anything. Decaying organic material prevails in the sordid streets of Vienna where Erika becomes a voyeur spying couples in public parks or attending peep shows, nurturing her distorted sexuality and her sadomasochistic tendencies.Erika cuts herself to let her blood run in red streams of desperation trying to see past her inert and lifeless carcass of a body, trying to find her inner beauty, trying to prove her heart is still pumping blood into her hollow corpse. She can’t seem to feel anything, neither pain nor arousal, as much as she probes her flesh with knives and needles. Undefined form of emptiness and vacant glances are the only reflections in the mirror, a vampire of the maternal nest.Erika Kohut, the piano teacher, resists her student Walter Klemmer’s romantic advances stoically, self-consciously reminding herself of her inaptitude to give and receive affection and of her inadequate tattered body. Erika senses her comfortably familial balance of power threatened by this golden and athletic man, who is ten years her junior and an admirer of Norman Mailer, and resists the temptation of seeking hope and redemption. She reaches the determination to show this sublime male specimen the dear price of his daring to desire her, proving her dominance and supremacy to the world.But even the most shrivelled of souls can’t ignore the intoxicating illusion of love as instrument of absolution; and the balance of forces, both of love and power, expand and contract, merge and repel unpredictably, shifting first from mother to daughter, then from teacher to student, only to finally backfire and make of the abuser a victim and of the abused an aggressor, leaving only a blurred red trickle of blood glowing in golden sunbeams and festering wounds that will never properly heal.Where to draw the line between the guilty and the innocent?Should parents be blamed for the miseries of their children? Should current generations pay for the sins committed by their ancestors?Aren’t families a reflection of a hierarchical society and its classist structures that oppress in terms of age, gender and race?Haven’t patriarchal societies subjugated, isolated and persecuted the unconventional throughout history?Can art redeem the ones beyond salvation?Erika’s wrenched attempt to transform her unsung symphony of love collides with the distorted cacophony of the rotten world she lives in, leaving an open, forever bleeding wound of silence, shame and hopelessness, annihilating the so-much-yearned-for harmony of this desolate song called life.

  • Mary
    2018-12-13 23:39

    Erika, the piano teacher, has issues. She’s in her late 30s, an age we are repeatedly told is quite old, and she sleeps in the matrimonial bed with her domineering mother: hands outside the covers, lest those fingers go wandering. The book opens with Erika pulling a handful of hair out of her mother’s head, and it only gets better-worse from there. To say much more would risk taking away the gasps a reader is entitled to when reading this. The synopsis of The Piano Teacher didn’t really prepare me for it at all. I was looking forward to the mother-daughter dynamic, as I’m drawn to deranged parent-child relationships; I had no idea just how deranged it would be. Of all the foul and sadistic events in this book, a small, animalistic scene between mother and daughter in bed haunted me the most. I had to look away for a while, and I’m not generally one who is easily bothered. This book gets on you like slime. The breathless narrative is ugly-beautiful. Jelinek’s voice was tormented and quite impressive, and her inner darkness translates to the page skillfully in the minds of the characters, all of which are damaged and pent-up. Erika’s perversions gnaw; the tension festers. She wanders around Vienna’s seedy neighborhoods, sniffing soiled tissues in peep show booths and peeing in bushes after watching a couple have sex. The tension builds. She tortures, taunts, cowers. She’s a woman-child suppressed to the utmost extreme, lost inside her urges, confused and faltering, and her cat-and-mouse game has very adult consequences. At times Erika is sadistic and controlling and we think that’s what she is, then she’s submissive and insecure. Halfway through I read that Jelinek’s writing is highly autobiographical; just like Erika’s father, Jelinek’s father was institutionalized, and even after Jelinek married, she remained living with her controlling mother, visiting her husband on weekends. The hold Erika’s mother had on her, and the deep torment she felt was an amplified howl of suffering from an author who can only have been stifled and deeply distressed herself. It was uncomfortable to read, not because the events and subjects are shocking and explicit, which they most certainly are, but because you’re much too close to someone’s private pain. Fittingly, the story climaxes with devastating anguish on the very last page and it’s blinding and hideous.

  • Hadrian
    2018-12-03 17:46

    The Piano Teacher is an unbearably gruesome read. It starts off with a brutal spat of domestic violence (with fistfuls of pulled hair) and ends with two of the most disgusting sex scenes I've read in modern literature. This is not a novel about personal growth or development, but about the opposite. Our main character, a piano teacher living with her hovering parasite of a mother, experiences personal destruction and the conflation of sex and romantic pleasure with pain. Unhealthy obsessions with sex, disease, filth, hatred, self-mutilation, all these other grimy little details. I can't exactly call this pornographic (for who would voluntarily enjoy such stories for their sexual arousal? Actually never mind sorry I asked), but it is obscene. I can't say I enjoyed reading this, but it asks the harshest questions about sex and violence. If you're that sort of literary masochist, please go on.

  • Manybooks
    2018-11-24 20:37

    In many ways, Elfriede Jelinek's Die Klavierspielerin is amazing. Visceral, explosive, descriptive in a horrifying, yet also curiously enticing manner, the novel presents a massively cracked and crumbling, distorted mirror of society (not just Austrian society, but society in general) and how stranglingly vigorous and seemingly impossible to fray and sever the patriarchal structures and fibres of power and might are and continue to be (and how they consume and infiltrate everything and everyone). Erika Kohut's mother might seem a harridan and even rather like a monster (and she is that and more), but in many ways, she is also just another spoke in the wheel so to speak, and Erika herself, even though she has faced her mother's abuse and dictates all of her life (including more than creepily having to share a bed with her), also deliberately and often maliciously chastises and degrades her piano students, transferring the abuse and thus keeping the wheels of power, of societal embattlement and dysfunctional family structures spinning and continuously flourishing.However, as much as I have always appreciated (and still do appreciate) Die Klavierspielerin, I have also never been able to fully and happily enjoy it (both thematics and writing style, while certainly enlightening and thought-provoking, are also generally just too nauseating, too all inclusively offensive, with basically every single character presented as being majorly dysfunctional, often abusive, sexually frustrated/perverted, and actually, no generally positively conceptualized characters seem to exist at all). Die Klavierspielerin is a novel that I most definitely am glad to have read three times now (and I can certainly understand why and how Elfriede Jelinek won the Nobel Prize in literature for her oeuvre), but it is also a novel, I would not likely ever willingly read a fourth time (unless it were required of me academically); not comfort reading by any stretch of the imagination (Die Klavierspielerin is a novel that makes you think, and that should make you think, albeit also and always leaving a necessary, but rather nasty and bitterly nauseating aftertaste).

  • Josh
    2018-12-07 20:49

    I cut myself with razors and bleed out, I consume it back, which is me, part of me, it is mine.Sitting down in a pasture full of slimy eels, crushing them as they discharge their squeamish bits all over me.Letting the gelatinous barrage of honey overwhelm me, while ants gnaw at my skin.Breaking glass and running my fingers over it, crushing it in my bare hands, letting it stick out from every pore it manages to puncture.This orifice of mine is not just mine, but someone else's; it can't tell me how to feel, but IT, THEY can enslave me. I am THEIR slave. Own me, Rape me, Gag me, Bind me, Devour me.The above is given for the effect it had on me, it affected me in ways that no book ever has made upon me and I'll never forget it, it's highly unforgettable. It engages you in a story of a repressed adult, as you see her rip herself apart sadistically as she tries to figure out what love is. What is love, exactly? Is it being suffocated by the one who loves you or beaten by the one you think you love? She doesn't know and will never know. The book offends you in many ways as it makes you cringe for your sanity, your breath becomes labored, but you read on, you read on until it's over with a statement; a glorious statement that she is free and wants wants WANTS, bleeding for you, for her love.

  • Brian
    2018-11-14 20:50

    The opposite sex always wants the exact opposite.Jelinek writes in perfect compact sentences; streamlining and buffing those collection of words between periods to contain only what is needed, nothing more. She knows that her mother's embrace will completely devour and digest her, yet she is magically drawn to it.She packs those sentences full with minor motifs, brilliant characterization, startling imagery and sends them hurtling through the narrative. But there's a jack-knifed 18-wheeler of a theme that all this traffic must encounter: Possession. And when all of these sentences and the Theme collide, it is a powerful display of destruction; beautiful and unpredictible, like a volcanic eruption.In Erika's piano class, children are already hacking away at Mozart and Haydn, the advanced pupils are riding roughshod over Brahms and Schumann, covering the forest soil of keyboard literature with their slug slime.Reading this book while in Vienna was a special treat. My wife and I went to the Albertina museum to see a Gottfried Helnwein installation; his famous "48 Portraits" of important women was one of the works, and right there in the middle of the beautiful prints was one of Elfriede Jelinek. I had never heard of her before friend Aubrey recommended this book to me; how great it was to read her most famous work in the city where it was penned - and to see her painted portrait by another famouse Viennese artist:

  • Declan
    2018-11-14 20:54

    'The Piano Teacher' is like a piece of chamber music; a dissonant, serial composition with cold, confused Erika on piano, Mother on violin (always fiddling away even, or especially, when uncalled for by the score) and, supplying the lower notes, Walter Klemmer on cello (a little arrogant regarding his abilities and too keen to wave his bow about).The music is without melody or harmony, but it is a stunning piece of virtuoso writing. The sounds are jarring, violent, cacophonous. Much of the technique the musicians use is unorthodox: bowing beneath the bridge, hammering on the piano keys with fists. There isn't a moment of beauty in the entire work. Its most unusual feature is that it has a conductor, Elfriede Jelinek. More unusual again is that she is not just conducting the trio, she is conducting us the readers as well and she appears a little over anxious that we should view everthing exactly as she does. The musicians must keep to the score and we must keep to the written notes.On the upbeat Ms. Jelinek breaths in. She breaths in all of the air in the room. We are hers until she chooses, if ever she does, to breath out again. I surrender, dear.Mother, progenitor of all that occurs in the novel, is an appalling creature. Her determination to keep her daughter within her control at all times - to the extent that they share a bed - must result from a deep fear of which we are ignorant. She lived through the World war 2, but we know nothing of her experiences, nor those of the man she married, a man who may, at that time, already have had the mental-health problems which would, later in his life, result in his being confined in a mental institution. Mother's overbearing need to control her one child must be the result of a deep trauma in her own life. Her fear of being left alone is beyond any normal uneasiness at such a prospect. This woman is psychotic. It is with her husband that she should be finding company. The two of them on different floors of that big building on the hill.Erika, born from the one dribble of seed that man implanted in that woman. 35 years on she has been so shielded from regular society that she has no idea who or what she is. Mama saw early on that she might just have the talent to be a concert pianist. Practice, practice. Competition. Practice, practice. Competition. But more than technique is needed to be a concert pianist. To play Schubert, Schumann, Chopin you must know something of the range of emotions which were freely available, and known, to the composers. Erika has heard of such emotions, but has no first-hand experience of any of them. Gradually feeling can only be located through extreme actions. Cutting herself brings forth a feeling - pain - so that seems worth doing occasionally. She feels a kind of lust, but has no means to express or expunge it. Peep shows and pornography become a fascination, a means of being in the vicinity of this activity of which she knows little. But combined with her already distorted and grotesque idea of human relations (what was home life like when both her father and mother were present?) this leads to ideas forming in her head about how emotional connections might be achieved which have no place in any relationship. Walter Klemmer, by being interested in Erika, provides a point of fixation for her; a means by which she can attempt to process physical connections which will break through into those feelings she has never known. But what does she know? He is a student in the music academy where she now teaches, so she has some modicum of authority - the element of her character to which he is responsive - but she has no agency within the realm of her own emotional range. All of her receptors are malfunctioning. The gramophone of her mind is running down; the soprano is becoming a bass and nothing is making any sense. He is clueless. She has a screw loose. Let's call the whole thing off. "It looks as if we two will never be one/Something must be done."Erika strides through the smelly room, a bizarre spindle-shanked bird in the zoo of secret needs.Breath out again please Frau Jelinek. I have followed your every word, fascinated, repulsed, upset, confused. I understand too that we are all quiescent in the face of state brutality and too meek before a state system which keeps us in our place. But please put your baton down. I can't take any more.

  • Ema
    2018-11-15 20:50

    Elfriede Jelinek's novel is a painful, brutal experience. I cannot say that I enjoyed this incursion in the grotesque, tenebrous entrails of the human psyche. I came back to reality saddened and disgusted, having tasted the extent of destruction which overbearing parents can have on their children's lives. And yet, the novel is well written, with surprising moments of lyricism; I cannot deny its value, despite the depressing story it contains. There is almost no sign of beauty, goodness or hope in the crooked, distorted world of the piano teacher. She is accompanied by music, it is true, but this music is silent and abstract, being perceived only by means of words. And yet, on the story backdrop, I could clearly hear the faint pop of needles piercing the skin or the barely audible swish of the razor blade cutting into flesh. I came to fear the return of these sounds, while the beautiful music was meant to remain silent. Erika, the piano teacher, lives with her mother in a closed, isolated universe, from which relatives and friends were expelled. Along the years, a sickly and peculiar symbiosis has formed between the two of them; it is a mixture of love and hate, a rapport of forces a bit more difficult to discern and understand. Dependent on one another, the two women are connected through invisible, yet strong filaments. Mother, jealous and possessive, keeps Erika's life under observation; she has devoted her entire life to Erika's well being, asking obedience and loyalty in exchange. She has taught Erika not to feel regret and instilled in her the belief that she is unique, superior to others. The girl's sexuality is reprimanded; her senses have become numbed and, in an attempt to feel something, anything, Erika inflicts pain on herself. It is, at the same time, a discharge valve which helps her survive a suffocating relationship which has crippled her spirit.Mother appears as a tyrannical force, assuming the act of a destructive creation, molding, according to her own whims, a broken doll that she controls through the threads of the mother-daughter bond. I wondered why Erika doesn't leave her despotic mother. It is true that she revolts, sometimes, through buying of dresses, through the secrets she keeps, through bursts of violence which she regrets afterwards. But she never revolts completely; she resembles a caged animal, which has a limited space to manifest itself. She cannot go further, because mother is the one who confirms Erika's own identity. Mother represents the refuge and solace, she is the measure of value and uniqueness. In the absence of the creator, the creation - unauthenticated by external factors - would lose its worth. I hated the characters in this novel with all my heart. I couldn't connect to any of them, not even through the pity that I could feel for Erika, from time to time. But even this pity wilted when faced with her cruel and evil nature. Erika is not the helpless and inoffensive human being she may appear to be at first. Following in her mother's footsteps, she exerts control over students and inflicts pain without remorse. What her mother has done out of love and possession, Erika is doing out of a cynical, calculated, almost experimental predisposition. Her road to dehumanization seems to be without return; apparently, nothing and nobody could save her from the monstrous dimension into which she sinks even deeper. As we delve deeper into the novel, we start to discern different threads, which manipulate all the others: above everything, there towers the imposing and unforgiving figure of Elfriede Jelinek, whose ironical and caustic voice we can clearly hear throughout the narrative. Through her merciless analysis of human nature or her virulent critique of the Austrian society, the writer's presence can be felt in an uncomfortable way, giving the impression that we are spectators of a grotesque mise-en-scène, where Jelinek heaps up all the sins, flaws and weaknesses of a world she despises. My pick for Erika's image, as chosen in the discussion with knig, Trav, Dolors and Declan.Portrait by Amedeo Modigliani

  • Grazia
    2018-11-22 18:59

    "Per quanto la si invochi, non si trova una sola anima buona" Questo romanzo, l'ascolto di questo romanzo in realtà, è stato il compagno di viaggio dei tragitti di spostamento verso mete austriache e germaniche.In particolare di un interminabile viaggio di ritorno da Monaco durato esattamente il doppio del tempo atteso causa congestione Brennero & co. Perfetto accompagnamento in stile sofferenza, mi sono sono somministrata il vortice livido e oscuro delle parole delle Jelinek. Una musica angosciante, sordida e disperata.Devo dire che tanta violenza, tanto malessere, tanta stortura, mi hanno lasciato dapprima perplessa. Quasi senza parole. Con la Jelinek affrontiamo i recessi più oscuri in cui può affogare un essere umano.Protagonista una donna, Erika, pianista con un trascorso di concertista fallita alle spalle, che si guadagna la vita facendo l'insegnante.Protagonista è altresi' il rapporto malato con la madre, rapporto talmente spinto ed esasperato da parere una presa in giro sardonica e beffarda delle teorie psicologiche sul rapporto conflittuale madre e figlia, nonché una feroce satira di tutta la letteratura in ambito che lo ha preceduto (cfr. ad esempio Nemirovsky)Protagonista è pure il rapporto "d'amore" travisato, esasperato, rovesciato tra la maestra di piano ed un suo allievo. (Amore virgolettato non a caso)Una dichiarazione d'amore che segue i binari ordinari che arriva inaspettatamente alla docente da parte dello studente più aitante e più ambito, viene completamente ribaltata dalla visione distorta della pianista su cosa voglia effettivamente dire amare ed essere amata. Visione distorta generata forse dal fallimento, dalla relazione ambigua con la madre, dalla mancanza di esperienza della tenerezza. Ma non ci sono risposte certe.Una lettera allo studente, con richieste esagerate, esasperate, in cui la manifestazione d'amore viene completamente travisata. O forse semplicemente una richiesta d'aiuto verso chi è visto come sano da chi si considera una scarto putrescente della società, e in quanto tale si avvilisce e si umilia con le più aberranti esperienze cercando in realtà semplicemente soltanto un amore tenero, bilanciato e corrisposto.Una satira feroce e violenta questa della Jelinek. Che oltre ai recessi più turpi dell'animo umano, mostra gli aspetti più sordidi della società austriaca, i luoghi fisici più remoti e più oscuri ( il sesso mostrato nelle sue modalità più aberranti, peep show et similia che la professoressa si somministra e fa somministrare al lettore). Ben nascosti abitualmente ma esibiti dalla Jelinek come una bandiera. Una sfida. Una beffa. Un urticante modo di buttare in faccia a chi legge tutto ciò che è da evitatare con cura, da disconoscere, da disprezzare. Come dire, l'uomo è anche questo.Una lettura che lascia atterriti. E che non può che evocare per il modo in cui è scritto, per la fallimentare figura del protagonista pianista, per nazionalità degli scriventi il contemporaneo Soccombente di Bernhard.Davvero ottima la postfazione di Luigi Reitani che segue la lettura. Che orienta e contestualizza. Che mi ha aiutato a capire ed ad apprezzare, questa opera spiazzante e crudele, davvero molto bizzarra e al limite. Ma sicuramente di pregio.Una lettura per stomaci forti. (Non oso pensare cosa possa essere il film 😱)

  • Isidora
    2018-12-07 19:54

    I have made my way through this painful and upsetting novel. Ever since Elfriede Jelinek won Nobel Prize in 2004, but didn’t come to Stockholm to pick it up, I have believed that she was not for me. Elfriede was classified as pretentious, difficult, a woman, yes, but hermetic and hyper intellectual, or so I got it from the reviews.How wrong I was. Her writing is very alive, yet to the darkest side. If there is a place called “domestic hell - for mothers and daughters only”, the protagonist, piano teacher Erika and her mother might be living there. Both of them have issues, and to say that their relationship is disturbed would be an understatement. Most sadistic and violent events go by, all of mere filmic quality (I haven’t seen the movie though). I won’t forget easily the little scene between mother and daughter in their bed at dawn, after a hard night.The second part of the book is about Erika’s relationship to a young man, her student, Walter, and here we go again – sexual and other violence, abuse, domination, love and pain, brutal and animalistic scenes as in the first half. Although I can’t connect to Erika in the beginning and find her unlikable, nasty and vicious, while reading the last scene I’m crying for her for she really does not deserve all that misery.I can’t say that I liked “The Piano Teacher”. It is in no way an easy read. Usually books I like do not hurt that much. This one left me sad, upset, shocked, hopeless, and miserable. When I eventually came back to reality, all I wanted however was to applaud to Elfriede Jelinek. What a great writing, what a power and courage. Sorry, Elfriede, for my mistrust. I am so very content with your Nobel, after all.

  • Neal Adolph
    2018-12-01 17:38

    Can I keep this short and sweet? Maybe. Let's see.Elfriede Jelinek is, perhaps, one of the most controversial of the Nobel Prize Winners from the 21st Century. I think that drew me to her. This one literary message board that I am a member of has a constant hate-on for her contribution to letters and her prize. I think that drew me to her.I can see, after reading this book, why she won the prize. She dabbles in really complex relationships, and here we see several. Erika Kohut, the protagonist, is at the center of all of them. She isn't a very likeable figure, but she demands your attention and, eventually, your sympathy. Her mother abuses her financially and emotionally, and her student, a young piano player, is a source of frustration and fascination for her - and eventually also a source of abuse. Though the abuse is different. I don't want to say very much about it to be honest. I'm trying to keep this short for two reasons - my own lack of time, and my desire to have you read this book.What you witness in this book is the complexity of domination and rebellion born out in everyday relationships, and the agency of a single woman as she works through these challenges and attempts to creates challenges for some of those around her. There is no innocence here. Thankfully. It would be out of place in this novel, just as it is often out of place in humanity. I liked this exploration a lot, at times even more than a lot.But the writing, which is at times revelatory and brilliant and important, holds back the story when it is also repetitive, poorly structured, not particularly well paced. A bit more editing may have gone a long way here. But it could be the translation, which is at times a little jagged and awkward. But maybe that is also the writing style. Jelinek is famous for translating Gravity's Rainbow into German, and has claimed that the process was inspiring for her. I wouldn't want to translate Pynchon to another language, it would be tough, but if she did it, if her language and prose was altered as a result, maybe her work is equally difficult to translate.Regardless, I ended up feeling as though the ideas and characters in this story were more consistently intriguing than the writing. But, if you haven't yet read the book, I hope you will. It is worth the moments of frustration. I look forward to more of Jelinek's brutalism in my future reading. And ultimately I'm comfortable with her Nobel. Not that it matters, anyways.

  • Hendrik
    2018-12-06 17:53

    Es ist egal ob die Jelinek in der Zeitung steht oder im Regal … Nein, nein, doppelt nein! Mein Fazit nach diesem Buch lautet: Holt die Jelinek aus dem Regal und lest! Die Klavierspielerin ist eine Wiener Melange aus Hochkultur und Perversion. Ich schäme mich fast selbst zuzugeben, mit welchem Vergnügen ich diese bitterböse Groteske gelesen habe. Die zugrundeliegende Dreierkonstellation Mutter - Lehrerin Erika - Schüler Klemmer erinnert ein wenig an Sigmund Freuds Strukturmodell der Psyche: 1. Mutter / Über-Ich (Moralische Instanz) 2. Schüler Klemmer / Es (Lustprinzip) 3. Lehrerin Erika / Ich ( Vermittlerin zwischen den Ansprüchen von Über-Ich und Es). Ob das zutreffend ist, sei einmal dahin gestellt. Jedenfalls bietet die Handlung einigen Raum für allerlei psychologische Deutungen. Elfriede Jelinek hat selbst anklingen lassen, dass ihr Roman autobiographische Bezüge zum Verhältnis zu ihrer eigenen Mutter enthält. In diesem Licht betrachtet, hätten wir es hier mit einer wenig schmeichelhaften Abrechnung zu tun. Abgerechnet wird allerdings auch mit der österreichischen Gesellschaft. Da kommt fast keiner gut weg, die reinste Freakshow. Das ist in der Beschreibung so überzogen, dass es stellenweise urkomisch wirkt. Elfriede Jelinek hatte ich in Berichten über ihre Arbeit und Person, bisher immer als Vertreterin eines verkrampften, todernsten Feminismus wahrgenommen. Was für eine Fehleinschätzung meinerseits, die Frau hat wirklich Humor ganz nach meinem Geschmack. Allerdings gerät man als Leser unweigerlich selbst in die Position des Voyeurs, der sich an den Obsessionen und Abgründen der anderen schadlos hält. Ein Gefühl des Unbehagens beschleicht einen zuweilen, angesichts der eigenen verborgenen charakterlichen Untiefen.Neben der Psychologie ist die Musik ein tragendes Element der Handlung. Im Text finden sich z.B. öfters Zitate aus Schuberts Winterreise. Wie gesagt das Buch ist ein totales Crossover aus High culture und Sexploitation. Dafür vergebe ich gerne die volle Punktzahl.[Der ausgezeichnete Film von Michael Haneke ist ebenfalls eine Empfehlung wert. Ich hatte ihn bereits vor einiger Zeit gesehen. Da der Film aber andere Schwerpunkte in der Handlung setzt, kann man das Buch auch mit Genuss lesen, wenn man bereits den Film kennt.]

  • Nate D
    2018-12-09 16:01

    Excorciating psychological study of the utter failure of interpersonal connection. Austria would appear to have issues that can only be worked through via brutal works of art, and in many ways Jelinek is harsher than anything approached by Bernhard. In some ways Jelinek writes in an anti-style, just piling declarative sentences at the reader until they're forced to accept their content. But then she switches course and descends into convoluted structures of metaphor so mixed as to almost lose meaning -- which could be seen as another path towards anti-style -- but which somehow take on a weird beauty all their own that rises luminously above the cruelty.

  • Michael
    2018-11-14 17:52

    Ich habe es versucht; Beim Grab meines verstorbenen Kanarienvogels schwöre ich, ich habe versucht, DIE KLAVIERSPIELERIN zu lesen. Mein soziales Umfeld hat mich bei diesem Unternehmen nach Kräften unterstützt. Meine Frau hat mich mit noch gesünderer und ausgewogenerer Ernährung als sonst versorgt; ich bin der JA-Gruppe (Jelinek anonymous) beigetreten; ein personal trainer hat mich täglich massiert und mit Proteingetränken gemästet; Goodreads-Freunde haben mir Mut zugesprochen. Zugleich gab es unterstütztend dazu sanften sozialen Druck: Aber du willst doch weiter zur Lesegruppe dazu gehören? Du willst doch auch nach Wien zur Jelinek-Exkursion kommen?Ja, ich will doch alles richtig und gut machen! Ich will die KLAVIERSPIELERIN lesen, ja! Ich bin doch kein verstockter Dummbatz, dem nicht zu helfen ist, ich werde das Buch lesen.Habe ich gedacht. Habe 10 Seiten gelesen. 20. 30. Bin bis Seite 80 gekommen. Habe dafür so lange gebraucht, dass ich nunmehr das Buch in der Kreisbibliothek hätte verlängern müssen und stand also pflichtschuldig gesenkten Blickes mit dem unscheinbaren Taschenbüchlein mit der wenig gelungenen Umschlagillustration vor der Bibliothekarin; einer älteren Dame, die sanftmütig ist (normalerweise jedenfalls). Sie sah mir in die Augen und fragte: Wollen sie das Buch verlängern? Es klang, als hätte sie gesagt: Wollen sie DAS Buch (etwa) verlängern?Ihr Blick hatte etwas Stechendes bekommen und ich musste mir den Schweiß von der Stirn tupfen. Eine berechtigte Frage, die ich zuvor möglicherweise unterschätzt hatte. „Ich mag meine Lesegruppe“, begann ich zu stottern, aber die Bibliothekarin blieb seltsam ungerührt. Ich hätte sie gerne gefragt, ob sie das Buch kennt, traute mich aber nicht. Offenbar hatte niemand das Buch vorbestellt, ich hätte es verlängern können. Das, oder es abgeben. Verdammt! Was tun?„Haben sie den Wetterbericht gehört?“, fragte ich die Dame. Denn eines stand fest, auch nach 80 Seiten: Jelineks Prosa überzieht die Hölle mit Blitzeis. Ich kenne viele bösartige Texte, aber dieser Roman stellt sie alle in den Schatten. Man soll ja nicht von Romanfiguren auf den Autoren schließen, aber muss man nicht ein Menschenhasser sein, um solche Figuren zu schaffen? Nie zuvor hatte ich überlegt, ob Zombies nicht doch ganz nette Kerle sein könnten. Unerträglich sind mir Erika Kohut und ihre Mutter, unerträglich ist mir, wie Jelinek die gestörteste Mutter-Tochter-Beziehung seziert und von einer Spitze auf die nächste treibt. Schrecklich sind alle anderen Personen des Romans, allesamt ihrer Menschlichkeit beraubt, Schaustücke jelinekscher Glazialkunst. Toxic Parents, toxic life. Wenn Jelinek vor sich hin ätzt, vergeht mir jeder Lebensmut. Das hat nichts mit Ironie oder Sarkasmus zu tun, dieser Roman vergällt mir die Lebenslust. Jelinek lesen bereitet die gleiche Lust wie ein Zahnarztbesuch: da drillt der Bohrer durch´s ewige Eis, um es mal bildhaft, aber nicht überzogen auszudrücken, und man spürt und hört die Zahnarztgeräusche, die man so liebt. Wie heißt es anlässlich des Besuchs einer Eisdiele: "Sie gabeln unaufhörlich ihre Kältebissen in ihre Eishöhlen" - genau so!"Mit einem kleinen Hammer klopft sie die Wirklichkeit ab, eine eifrige Zahnärztin der Sprache"; fürwahr eine sehr besondere Form des Lustgewinns! Wie gerne denke ich da zur Beruhigung an den lachgasmissbrauchenden Zahnarzt im „Little Shop of Horrors“, der ein echter Kumpel ist verglichen mit unserer Erika.Hätte Arno Schmidt in einer Phase tiefster Depression einen Text über katholische Landwirte verfasst, er hätte nicht böser ausfallen können.„Nein, ich möchte das Buch jetzt zurückgeben“, habe ich zur Bibliothekarin gesagt, und gleich schien sie wieder freundlicher zu schauen.Und dann griff ich zum Äußersten (man muss wissen, ich bin Agnostiker) und sagte:Lasset uns beten!Vater, habe Mitleid mit den Lesern in Österreich Und den schrecklichen Büchern,die sie dort lesen müssen.Amen.

  • طَيْف
    2018-11-25 15:36

    معلمة البيانو...حين يتحول صوت الموسيقى إلى سلاح يدمر حياة عازفة بيانو ويحيلها خرابا!!!0بفكرة مبتكرة تخوض الكاتبة النمساوية "الفريدي ايلينيك" الحائزة على جائزة نوبل (2004)، في عالم مظلم لأم وابنتها، الأم التي تسعى لأن تعتلي ابنتها غمام الشهرة من خلال عزفها على البيانو...وتمارس سلطة خانقة عليها...وسيطرة تفوق الحدود...بل تنظر لابنتها كملكية ثابتة كل ما يهمها هو أن تحافظ عليها وتحتفظ بها:"يعتري الأم قلق شديد، لأن أول شيء يتعلمه المالك، وعلى نحو مؤلم، هو أن منح الثقة شيء جيد، لكن السيطرة أفضل، وكل ما يهمها هو أن تحافظ على ملكيتها الثابتة، تربطها كي لا تفلت من بين يديها"وابنتها الثلاثينية "أريكا كوهوت" معلمة البيانو التي تعلمت أن تتمرد على قيود والدتها ومجتمعها بالهروب إلى عالم سريّ تصنعه بنفسها وتحتفظ به بعيدا عن أعين الناس...وإن كان عالما مشوها يكشف عن مشاعرها الساديّة وخيالاتها الجنسيّة...لتغرق أخيرا في عشق أحد طلابها والذي بدوره يكون سببا في مزيد من إذلالها."يلينيك" تستخدم جرعة مفرطة من التجارب الجنسية الشاذة أفقدتني متعة القراءة رغم جاذبية الفكرة وعمقها...ولم تكن اللغة بالصورة التي وصفت بها، وربما لعبت الترجمة دور في ذلك، فقد وصفها أحدهم بأنها "نهر من موسيقى الأصوات المتداخلة"، بينما شعرت خلال جملها القصيرة وأسلوبها السردي بصوت نشاز أفسد متعة القراءةتبدو الرواية سيرة ذاتية أو جزءا منها فــ"يلينيك" ولدت في فيينا، وبدأت حياتها عازفة بيانو، ودرست الموسيقى في معهد فيينا، وعاشت وضعا نفسيا مضطربا كما قيل بعد أن انتهى والدها مجنونا في مصحة نفسية حتى وفاتهبعض التفاصيل التي أوردتها "يلينيك" مثيرة للتقزز وليس هناك من داع للخوض فيها، حتى وإن كانت ترغب بتنفير القارئ من وضع سائد معين في المجتمع النمساويوشخوصها مشوهة لا تمنحك الرغبة بالتعاطف مع أي منها، فكل واحد من شخوصها يمارس على نفسه تدميرا ذاتيارواية أثارت حفيظتي ونقمتي وسلبت متعتي!!!0

  • Dajana
    2018-12-11 00:02

    Pošto vidim da niko od mojih prijatelja nije čitao 'Pijanistkinju', pišem ovaj prikaz u želji da inspirišem na čitanje jer mi je ovo jedna od najdražih knjiga.Elfride Jelinek je jedna vrlo neobična dama, ako se ikad guglali nešto o njoj, verujem da znate, i veliki deo ovog dela je autobiografski. Posebno mi je zanimljivo da ovde ne postoji klasičan Edipov kompleks, već složen odnos između majke i ćerke koji je na ivici da postane incestuozan, i istovremeno su u srži ženskog lika, Erike Kohut, brojne psihoze. Osnovnu temu je vrlo teško odrediti, ali dala bih prednost problemu ženske seksualnosti i Želje koja nije ni na koji način uobličena i traži svoj okvir (odlasci u porno-bioskope, vrebanje parova u seksualnom odnosu kroz žbunje i, najvažnije, odnos sa učenikom Valterom) - odsustvo figure Oca istovremeno je i promašaj u oblikovanju načina na koji se Želja ispoljava i Erikina želja odlazi u mazohističku krajnost u potrazi za muškom figurom koja, opet, nije Otac, već Dete (u vezi sa ovim su zanimljiva i divna dva Ljosina romana, 'Pohvala pomajci' i 'Don Rigobertove beležnice'). Elfride je napadana za pornografsku i jeftinu književnost, ali dovoljno je nekoliko stranica da se uoči kakvim stilom Elfride uspeva ovu 'pornografsku tematiku' da preoblikuje. Njen stil odaje utisak gušenja dok čitate, kad biste pokušali ovo da čitate naglas, mislim da biste čitali brzo i zadihano, što je svakako u vezi sa seksualnošću ovog dela. Ovo je roman koji, prema mom mišljenju, predstavlja radikalan pokušaj da se raskine sa idejom da je jedina želja muška želja i da ironijski napravi otklon i analizu one čuvene 'žena želi da bude silovana'. Ne delim književnost nikad na onu za muškarce i onu za žene, ali u ovom slučaju, mislim da je posebno važno da žene pročitaju ovo delo jer ono podriva patrijarhalni poredak iz same srži tog poretka.

  • Allison Floyd
    2018-12-10 19:56

    This book was, to borrow someone else's phrasing, punishingly unendurable. But in the best possible way. The writing is like a luscious chocolate dessert sprinkled with sparkling shards of glass. The ladies (and gent) in this tome all strike me as the type who would grind up glass and serve it in your dessert. This is the land of the lovelorn and lacerated, folks. And Lazarus is nowhere in sight. Hey, if redemption isn't possible, at least there's always alliteration. Anyway, the real issue here is that I'm a member of the plebian, plodding masses SHE lives to despise. I took a trip to page 100 and felt like I'd served my time. I should probably add the disclosure that the main reason this book was hard for me to stomach is that it had waaaayyyy too much autobiographical resonance. Hello, Allison, aged thirty-eight!

  • Cheryl
    2018-11-12 23:33

    I read this as I also explored, in separate texts, how pain is depicted in literature. Norridge, in Perceiving Pain, explores writers memorializing pain as a way of lament, a way of bearing witness to the suffering of past and present. While this book is certainly different, setting and all, it was interesting to read it with that context in mind, particularly when 'lament' literature is a kind I'm drawn to. Simply put, this novel focuses on pain; the kind of pain that forces a character to dark underworld dungeons, to self mutilation, to bad relationships, to an obscured view of the world. The method is what makes the novel complex: various points of view, various structured styles, a texture that changes every few pages, and so on. I wish I had more quotes to include, but I was too busy leaving the Coast to avoid Irma and I left my copy.

  • Tim
    2018-12-02 22:44

    This is one of my favorite books. I can't even describe how amazed I was when I finished this book. Jelinek moves the reader from character to character, rarely telling us who we inhabit, yet unlike so many other books that abuse this device, it works. Commentary is mixed in with thoughts. Lurid sex scenes, violence, depression, despair, social commentary. It's all there, everything you need for a good weekend. Just add scotch. Even the ending doesn't disappoint, which I was so sure, up until I read it, that it would. I don't understand how anyone could not like this novel. Maybe you don't like the message you get out of it. I can understand that, but you have to admire her skill and passion.

  • K.D. Absolutely
    2018-11-24 16:57

    A smut. A pornographic material pretending to be, or as seen by many, as a work of art. I just don't get the fact that this was written by the 2004 Nobel Prize for Literature winner, Elfriede Jelinek (Austrian playwright and novelist) and its movie adaptation (that I saw and did not like as well) won the 2001 Cannes Film Festival. Sorry, I just don't get it.This was one of the book that I brought with me during my 2-day stay (March 4 & 5, 2010) in the hospital for my knee operation. I was able to finish this 280-page book before I went out. However, when my mother-in-law saw this book she said to her husband: "Tingnan mo, Sim, ang binabasa ng mga bata ngayon."This novel has the most graphic oral sex (fellatio) scene that I've ever read. It also has one of the most mentally-disturbed characters that modern literature has. That character, this novel's main protagonist, 38-year old Erika, is a piano teacher who has a domineering mother that she despises. Maybe because of that, she lives a double life. Before going home to her mother (her father died in an asylum), she oftentimes visits a Turkish peep show where she is the only non-female performer. She also watches brutalizing sadomasochistic movies and later goes into a dangerous world of spying on lovers in the late night. There is also a scene when Erika almost raped her mother during one of their fights. That piano teacher is really craziest, most dreadful and eccentric characters that I've ever read and I pray there will be no other.If you want to stick with positively-themed, soul uplifting stories, never ever lay your hands on this book!BTW, I survived the operation.

  • Simona
    2018-11-19 18:33

    Questo romanzo è di una crudeltà, una spietatezza incredibile, ti lacera l'anima e il cuore. Il rapporto ossessivo, perverso, angusto, morboso, intriso di critiche e asprità tra madre e figlia lascia sgomenti, inquieti, angosciati e il lettore si sente al centro di questo turbinio di emozioni, sensazioni uscendone devastato, annicchilito e stupefatto.Una figlia Erika, dedita all'autolesionismo e al voyeurismo nei peep show del Prater, la cui vita è stata fin dall'infanzia programmata in nome dell'eccellenza nella musica da una madre tirannica che non voleva che nessuno si frapponesse tra lei e la figlia, al punto da guidare tutte le sue decisioni e scelte. La scoperta al sesso e del sesso, di sé, di una donna, Erika, appunto, che chiede solo di essere amata.

  • Traveller
    2018-12-12 21:32

    Three and a half stars One of the questions that arose for me while reading this novel, was: Are our children ever our property? Is it ever justifiable for one human being to take possession of another human's will and freedom? Is it okay to retain another human being for our own personal use, like you would do with a motor vehicle or a cup or a comb? Even when that human being is our own child? There is currently a world-wide ban against making slaves of persons belonging to other nationalities, though there is not yet consensus about making 'slaves' of other species, or of our own children.Some people are even more passionate against making captives of wild animals, against torturing them with an unnatural existence and having us preside over the fate of their life or death, than they are about doing these things to human beings. His vision, from the constantly passing bars,has grown so weary that it cannot holdanything else. It seems to him there area thousand bars; and behind the bars, no world.As he paces in cramped circles, over and over,the movement of his powerful soft stridesis like a ritual dance around a centerin which a mighty will stands paralyzed.Only at times, the curtain of the pupilslifts, quietly--. An image enters in,rushes down through the tensed, arrested muscles,plunges into the heart and is gone. The Panther--Rainer Maria RilkeOne thing that Erika Kohut cannot do, is to give of herself, because there is no self to give from. Erika's self has never had a chance to come out from behind the bars of maternal protection, has never had a chance to stretch itself fully, in the light. Has never had a chance to feel the stretching and contraction of emotional muscles in action, and so, confined by the tight bars of her prison, the muscles of Erika's self have atrophied and withered away in the darkness, until all that was left was Mother and the great heights of The Mission. Erika has failed in her Mission, constructed and assigned by Motherdear: of becoming a famous and revered concert pianist. Not that Erika has not busted a gut trying: practicing the piano is all she has been doing since her pre-schooler years, literally. There is no space for anything else, because even if we had the time to do anything but practice, we dare not do so, for any slightly robust activity might cause the child to injure her precious ten-tipped tools; and then, what would be left in the world for Erika and Motherdear? Just one another, the television screen and sour gum bon-bons. Not even poor Father, because he exited soon after daughter Erika entered the familial bed - he was taken to the mental health funny-farm in the back of the pig-butcher's truck.This novel is starkly unforgiving in showing us the interior world of Viennese culture and the world of music professor Erika, her mother, and Erika's student and love-object Walter Klemmer. Three is a crowd, they say, but who is the superfluous one in this uncomfortable ménage à trois?In Motherdear's methodology of smothering her child's will to independence, I was reminded of the terrifying image of a Muslim mother who, after her daughter became pregnant due to having been raped by her sons, decided to erase the stain from the family honor by taking action herself, and proceeded to cover the head of her pregnant daughter with plastic bags, subduing her with blows from a mallet, and squeezing the bags down over her face, holding and holding and holding it there until Daughterdear stopped twitching and kicking. This mother was not incarcerated for this murder, because our children are our possessions, are they not?Mother in The Piano Teacher doesn't do this physically speaking, of course, but perhaps the pregnant daughter stifled by the plastic bags, had a quicker out than Erika has. Because Erika cannot feel anything anymore beyond rudimentary pain, and even her pain has become a distanced thing, something that has to be given expression by cutting or pricking herself, because Erika cannot vocalize emotions or recognize them in their direct emotional form. Once upon a time she still longed to get away from piano practice sessions to play outside with other young people, but those urges are now long gone. The urges knocking and pushing to come out now, are met with a blind wall, a wall where there is no opening. They cannot come out anymore, no matter where Erika cuts herself, because she has had to build a wall around them. She has had to wall off the filth inside her, like an obedient child. Oh, not that she hasn't kicked against the walls of her tight prison, not that she hasn't rebelled, showing her rebellion now and then by buying one of the frivolous, wasteful pieces of clothing that Motherdear hates so much. Of course, such purchases are met with blows and kicks and screeches, and often, Motherdear takes revenge for Erika's arriving home late (even at age 35) by shredding some of these beloved pieces of clothing, shredding the symbol of rebellion; the only thing that Erika has that is hers, that doesn't belong to Motherdear.So is it a wonder then, that anything as 'filthy' and rebellious and natural as sexual urges, builds up and up and roils around inside blindly not knowing where to go? Urges which cannot find any expression, because Mother guards those hands day and night, literally checking that hands stay above board at night from her co-position in the shared maternal bed. We know how to look, but we know we should not touch. So, when we feel aroused through Peeping Tom activities, or by the beauty of music, the only way we can find expression, is to relieve internal pressure by relieving our bladder. This activity is allowed, and so, this has become symbolic of relieving pressure. I reckon it's not a co-incidence that the urethral phase is the Freudian stage of separation anxiety. I guess it's just another (and rather superfluous under the circumstances) way of Jelinek telling us that Erika had become frozen in the urethral stage--unable to deal with separation anxiety. Some of this novel seems to be autobiographical, since Jelinek herself studied music as a result of her own overbearing Motherdear's desires. Jelinek had to stop her studies and retire back under the maternal wing (from whence she eventually launched her writing career) due to 'an anxiety disorder'. Her own father also ended up in a mental institution, and although Jelinek eventually married, she remained living with her mother, only visiting her husband on weekends, right up to her mother's death.As such, I need to mention that this novel is not erotica, and I mean not even for BDSM lovers, since sexual titillation is not what the book is about, but it is closer to being a psychological study, almost a dark avant garde memoir clad as fiction, with deep characterization. The novel is written in non-linear form, but without making use of 'flashbacks'; relying purely on contextual evidence to orient us towards where in the narrative we are from a temporal point of view. This adds to the experimental feel of the prose that is written from the viewpoint of an omniscient narrator who speaks the thoughts of the characters so loudly and with such seamless transitions, in a less subtle version of Virginia Woolfe's stream of consciousnesss style, that one often finds it hard to distinguish who is 'thinking' and whether it is Jelinek's or the character's ideas and thoughts that we are reading. As with Joyce's Ulysses, one eventually becomes accustomed to this stylistic quirk.The novel is a stark condemnation of the negative aspects of the patriarchal, puritanical side of traditional Teutonic society which denies nature as something ugly and filthy and in which cultural structures of power, control and submission, always angles hierarchical structures to respect age over youth, male over female, and tends to twist natural human relations into contorted shapes in order to conform to societal pressures.One of the recurring themes in the novel, is scenes depicting parents hitting their children; no wonder these kinds of behaviour breeds and perpetuates a culture of violence.The novel is also a socialist critique of bourgeoisie culture and the elevated status that classical music enjoys in the Viennese society that Erika grew up in. (Jelinek lived in Munich, but her grandparents were Austrian, and she seemed to have a bee in her bonnet about destroying popular images and conceptions of Austria as an idyllic place.)The sharp hyper-realism of Jelinek's strokes reminded me very much of the art of Frida Kahlo, who, judging from photographs, tended to paint herself in a harsh unflattering light. Erika reminded me of this work by Kahlo:The 'hyper-realist' feel of the novel has to do with the fact that Jelinek's artistic perspective was indeed an attempt at a literary version of Kahlo's artistic 'honesty'. Jelinek purposely focuses on the ugliness of everything in order to offer the reader no retreat, to force the reader to face the harsh 'reality' of the psychological landscape she paints, leaving us no option but to see its ugliness.The problem is that the human psyche cannot be painted in flat, realistic tones, because it is always an onion with layers. (With credit to Shrek for the latter observation.) The novel is unrelenting in its characterization, giving no quarter to any of the main characters: we see no redeeming qualities in the small, petty, selfish world of Motherdear's pathetic existence, and although we might feel twinges of sympathy for Erika at times, make no mistake that she is drawn relentlessly with harsh clear strokes, allowing no room for rose-tinted glasses: we see Erika in all of her inner ugliness in which there is yet intrinsically pathos--but there is no heroism, no reprieve, no redeeming qualities; just deep frustrated need--a need for love and recognition that Walter is unable to meet, because he himself is needy; he needs a mother-like love and he needs recognition and admiration from an authority figure in order to bolster his shaky self-esteem--something which older Erika cannot give because she herself is unable to give; she is emotionally and sexually a frozen being. She is also even less able than Walter to initiate loving, mutually reciprocal relations when it comes to love or sex.After all, the only thing that Erika has had any experience of doing, lies in the structures of dominance and subjugation. Erika has been taught that extreme subjugation to imprisonment and abuse, is the way to procure love--Motherdear has taught us this, and this is the recipe that has worked in getting Motherdear's love, so why is Walter not seeing extreme subjugation as love and acceptance? Erika does not understand.I feel that part of the social and to some extent feminist commentary in the text, lies with the fact that the only sexual role that Erika sees open for herself as a woman, is that of subjugation, a role she imagines will bring her love. This is not only a commentary on sexual roles, but also of the authoritarian Teutonic way of doing, where everything exists in terms or power and domination, and firstly maleness/machismo and then age determines your place in the pecking order of society.There are some interpretations that would have it that Erika is just intrinsically kinky, but Erika's behaviour can clearly be linked to her socialization process with Mother. Mother says she loves Erika, but Mother also hits Erika, even as an adult, and so Erika has learned to associate love with captivity and physical abuse: " His voice is almost toneless. Erika knows that tone from her mother. I hope Klemmer won’t hit me, she thinks fearfully. Please note that since we're talking about something as unpredictable and as yet not a fully charted landscape as the human psyche, that my interpretations of the character's behaviours are only some interpretations out of a myriad of possibilities.Another interpretation of Erika's behavior, (which I think is also plausible and does not necessarily collide with my interpretation), is that masochism is ultimately manipulative behaviour, which seems to fit, because the submissive seems to believe that they are procuring love with their submissive behaviour, but this argument loses me in the extension that the 'sub' in a sadomasochistic relationship, is actually per se the dominating partner. (view spoiler)[ Hmm. I think that I can go with that in that in this novel, Erika thought that she would be able to manipulate Walter and elicit love from him in the same way that she does with Mother, via apparent subjugation of herself. This apparently failed because Walter realized she was trying to manipulate him, and he rejected that version of their dynamic by re-asserting his own dominance by first rejecting her demands, and then foisting an approximation of these demands upon her but at his convenience, and I can agree with this interpretation to some extent, but I think the Walter/Erika dynamic is possibly even more complex than just that. (And I know there is an establishment review out there that suggests certain interpretations, but the writer of that review is under the impression that Klemmer's main sport is hockey, for f's sake! (Among other misreadings) So there was definitely not a close reading there).A close reading of the text takes me back to the scenario where I feel that Walter's overriding requirement from his relationship with Erika is a situation where he gets to shine, but in the presence of a quasi-maternal authority-figure, which is how Erika must have appeared to him in the classroom situation. So he basically wanted to get it off with the teacher, who suddenly is not acting like the teacher anymore. She tended to be superior and cold towards him and to criticize him in the classroom, but he wants to maneuver her into a position where she is going to give him warm approval and acceptance.But also, what Walter needed Erika to do, was to react to him in a reciprocal way, and I don't think we should condemn him for feeling repulsed by Erika's demands beyond that we might condemn him for being judgmental, because in Erika's scenario, as he voices the result himself: "What do I get out of all this?" In Erika's scenario, not only does he have to act in ways that feel 'unnatural' to him, but he doesn't emotionally receive any of the things he had been looking for from the relationship.When Erika and Walter are in her room the first time, when they shut Mother out via the wardrobe in front of the door, "The woman has made contact with him in writing, but a simple touch would have scored a lot more points. She deliberately refused to take the path of tender female touching. Yet she seems to be in basic agreement with his lust. He reaches for her, she doesn’t reach for him. That cools him off. "This and other sections where it is mentioned that Klemmer wants something 'real' from Erika, suggests to me that it is Erika's emotional and sexual passivity and inability to feel, to respond appropriately, and 'give' of herself that frustrates him. One could argue that Erika is withholding from him as an act of passive aggression which the 'establishment' review I read seems to suggest, but my feeling is yet again that this is not so. It seems to me that Erika's pain and her yearning are real. But human beings 'learn' relationship behaviour along with all our other social behaviour in a process called socialization, which is a process that all mammals undergo, and it is learned from the senior members of a community, most often the parents. Since Erika's father was absent and she had spent her entire life in a tightly controlled relationship with Mother, she would have learned most of her socialization from her mother. So, in Erika's world, subjugating herself in this manner, is the only act of 'love' that she knows, and in this lies the pathos of the character for me, and even some social commentary and some feminist commentary.(hide spoiler)]If Erika does not have the sharpest of self-insight, I don't think one should conclude this about Jelinek, who seems to be painfully aware of Erika's shortcomings, for instance, since nobody else seems to really appreciate poor Erika's playing, it appears as if Mom is controlling her by being the only one who does, in fact, praise her playing. So Mommy dearest's wing seems warm and re-assuring, because it allows Erika to hide in her illusion of being a great and wonderful piano player. One suspects that the reason as to why Erika isn't a great player, lies in the clue Erika gives about her playing: she cannot 'submit' to the composer, which I think means that she cannot give feeling to her interpretation, because Erika cannot give herself to feelings, she has been trained to cut herself off from them.Another instance of how Jelinek has insight but Erika hasn't, lies in how we see and hear people sniggering at her attempts to "dolly herself up", whereas Erika herself thinks she did a fine job.This brings me to the prickly subject of the aggressive and in some instances, cruel and sadistic acts that Erika performs on unsuspecting people around her. I really hope that Erika's sadistic acts, especially one revealed towards the end of the novel, are fictional, because some of these acts are truly ugly.So, partly autobiographical as the character of Erika may be, she is definitely not shown in a sympathetic light, which brings me to how I should rate this book.BOTTOM LINE:If I were to rate the novel according to my enjoyment factor, I would rate it one star, because as a few friends have said, this book is ugly in almost every aspect. If I were to rate it as an intelligent, uncompromising attack on certain aspects of Germanic society, and a hyper-realist look at Jelinek's own situation in life, and an insightful and heart-wrenching exposè of some of the possible causes of sadomasochistic and self-harming behaviour, as well as an uncompromising look into the pain of a damaged person, I'd give it 5 stars. As it is, I think I'm inclined to give it something in between. I have to take at least one star off for the ugliness, for having had to live through the experience of Jelinek forcing me to look through those darkly stained glasses through which Mother makes us look at the world.I think Jelinek would understand. ;)(view spoiler)[ I wonder if I should warn people that this book is not erotica? Hehe.(hide spoiler)]["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>

  • Laura
    2018-12-05 23:35

    What could happen between a piano teacher and one of her students? Nothing that you've guessed, I can assure you.In addition, the main character must face her mother's constraints to her own way of life.

  • Timothy
    2018-12-10 19:53

    This is the novel that introduced 2004 Nobel Laureate Elfriede Jelinek to the English-speaking world. The Piano Teacher is biting social criticism. Parental relationships, public parks, morning commutes, and (especially) sexual relations take on an unsavory character. Perhaps most notably, this is a deeply feminist work. The Piano Teacher comments on the gendered nature of social power. By my take, there is a “trapped” sense to Erika Kohut, the piano teacher of the title – an entrapment that is shaped by the social expectations placed on women in Western society. She is trapped by her zealously protective mother, by the stigma of aging alone, by the need to rely on feminine accoutrements to maintain her beauty. Her masochism seems to be her response to this entrapment. In some respects, it is a response of strength, albeit a somewhat unfortunate one (provided we accept societal norms). Psychology suggests that when trapped in an inescapable, aversive environment, it is common to give up, a la Seligman’s dogs. Erika Kohut has not given up. Seligman’s dogs accepted pain because they had no choice. Erika seeks it out and embraces it. Erika Kohut has choices. The social barriers she faces are not so monolithic that she could not choose to behave differently. This is an issue that social theorists have wrangled with for years – if macro-level social factors shape human behavior, and these social factors are always with us and reproduce themselves, then how does social change occur? Ultimately, change occurs because people make it happen despite obstacles. Some readers may find Erika Kohut to be weak or even contemptible in her self-degradation and reliance on her mother. I find her self-degradation a form of maladaptive strength; a strength that does nothing to change her situation, or the gender inequities that partially shape her situation. Our heroes tend to be persons who “stand up and overcome despite the odds.” Such persons are the topics of Hollywood storylines. This is not Erika Kohut. On another level, The Piano Teacher is about power, particularly gendered aspects of power. Jelinek seems to believe that power is fluid and shifting. In sections describing interactions between Erika Kohut and Walter Klemmer, power and control shifts rapidly as the mismatched lovers make sense of their relationship. On a broader scale, Erika’s letter (in essence a grand concession of power on her own terms) and Klemmer’s response, are major aspects of the plot. I also appreciated Jelinek’s writing style. On the surface, the writing is straight third person narrative. But, some of the expressions and turns of phrase reveal biting sarcasm. This has the effect of lending subjectivity to the writing – so much so that at the beginning of the novel, before acclimation, one wonders at times if the events being described are truly happening. It also has the effect of distancing the reader from the characters. No aspect of the story is told in what may be labeled “realistic” narrative. Jelinek’s style would lend itself well to a rhythmic, spoken word reading in some avant garde coffee shop. Jelinek herself is an interesting person. Aspects of The Piano Teacher are auto-biographical. Like Erika Kohut, Jelinek is a trained musician with a demanding mother. She has suffered from anxiety disorders and social phobias, and did not attend her Nobel Prize award ceremony. Yet, she was an outspoken critic of Jorg Haider (now deceased), and his far-right politics.

  • William
    2018-11-16 21:43

    This novel from the 2004 Nobel Prize winner reminded me, in its first half, of the works of A.M. Homes and John Cheever. The second half of this work on sex, violence, power, maternity, and identity, was like nothing I’ve read. This novel could be “about” many things, but its approach in presenting a detached view of sex and power turns ultimately into the very physical combination of both of these things. There is more to be said about how identities fluxuate depending on who holds control, and how external standards maniupulate our desires as much as we are manipulated by our ideals. A very frightening novel that probably would never be published by a mainstream American press, or be written by an American author.