The late Austrian author Thomas Bernhard doesn’t sound like a likeable fellow.
No writer can have expended more bile on his homeland than Thomas Bernhard (1931-89). Not only were his books and plays extremely insulting to his country, Austria, but in his will he directed that none of his books should be published there (“whatever form the state takes”) and none of his plays should be produced on its stages. Of course, such obsessive rancour is not always easy to distinguish from love, albeit disappointed love.
His last book, My Prizes, published 20 years after his death, consists of reflections on, and the memories evoked by, the many literary prizes that he was offered in the German speaking world during his lifetime. In general he pours forth his bile on those who awarded him the prizes and especially on those who attended the ceremonies at which they were presented. We meet ministers of culture who snore on the platform (and are famous for doing so) and ministers of culture who, until recently, were commissioners of agriculture. Bernhard views the whole process of giving literary prizes as a vulgar and hypocritical sham and accepts them only because he needs the money.
Read the whole thing (if you have a subscription to the British Medical Journal).