“The Piano Teacher is compelling fiction, ensnaring the reader with the intensity of the author’s vision and the bitter irony she uses to present her view of the city. The prose is disarmingly colloquial, the work of a gifted translator who has carefully preserved the stylistic nuances of the original German and the black humor inherent in Erika’s bizarre encounters. Passionately political.” Elaine Kendall, Los Angeles Times Book Review
The Piano Teacher
978-0-8021-4461-4 • $15.00 • Paperback • Oct. 2009
The Englishlanguage debut of the winner of the 2004 Nobel Prize in Literature astonishes with biting social commentary and linguistic prowess
In awarding her the 2004 Nobel Prize in Literature, The Swedish Academy praised Elfriede Jelinek "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." In her most well-known novel, The Piano Teacher, Jelinek creates a shocking, angry, aching portrait of a society stubbornly fabricating its own obsolescence, and of a young woman whom this society has slowly fashioned into a ticking bomb. Set in a late 1980s Vienna rotting under the weight of its oppressive, outmoded cultural ideals (“which, like any drowned corpse that is not fished from the water, bloats up more and more”)a Vienna mirrored by the heroine’s own repressed dreamsThe Piano Teacher marks the Englishlanguage debut of a novelist of international significance.
Erika Kohut, piano teacher at the very prestigious, very stuffy Vienna Conservatory, is a quiet woman in her mid thirties devoted to Bach, Beethoven, Schumann, and her domineering mother. The two women’s life together is a seamless tissue of desperate boredom, fueled by television movies, neurotic possessiveness, and hopeless dreams of a concert career whose hour has long since passed. Enter Walter Klemmerhandsome, arrogant, athletic, out to conquer the secret of art and Erika’s affections with all the rancid bravado of youthand suddenly the dark and dangerous passions roiling under the piano teacher’s subdued exterior explode in a release of sexual perversity and long-buried violence.
Celebrated throughout Europe for the intensity and frankness of her writings, awarded the Heinrich Böll Prize for her outstanding contribution to German letters, Elfriede Jelinek is one of the most original and controversial writers in Austria todaya writer whose novels cut to the very heart of our deepest fears and desires.
The Piano Teacher was made into an acclaimed film by Michael Haneke in 2001.
Other Works in English:
Wonderful, Wonderful Times : [novel] / translated by Michael Hulse. London : Serpent's Tail, 1990. Translation of Die Ausgesperrten
Lust : [novel] / translated by Michael Hulse. London : Serpent's Tail, 1992. Translation of Lust
Women as Lovers : [novel] / translated by Martin Chalmers. London : Serpent's Tail, 1994. Translation of Die Liebhaberinnen