Cultural Writing, Drama
$13.00 • 62 pp. • 2006
Translated from the German
by P. J. Blumenthal
Elfriede Jelinek, who was born in 1946 in Mürzzuschlag, Austria, is the most verbally powerful writer in present-day German-language literature. Her works and public statements continue to provoke disparate reactions. In 2004 Jelinek received the Nobel Prize for literature, and this decision also caused considerable controversy within the German-speaking sphere as well as internationally.
In 1998, the German writer and director Einar Schleef staged Jelinek’s most important drama Sportstück for the Vienna City Theater, and so immediately became Jelinek’s favorite director. The production of an additional Jelinek piece was interrupted by Schleef’s illness. To everyone’s surprise, he died shortly thereafter.
Subsequently Jelinek ventured to compose three portraits of Schleef, which P. J. Blumenthal has translated for this little volume. They show Jelinek at the height of her powers, with her inimitable, musically overflowing, irony-infected style of exaggeration, and will awaken curiosity about her work, as well as about the figure of Einar Schleef, who still remains completely unknown in the English-speaking world.
As Jelinek has written, “There were only two geniuses in postwar Germany: Fassbinder in the West, and Schleef in the East. They were both insatiable, but only in order to be able to give more. In the end, they gave themselves. They stumbled over themselves and spit out their hearts.”
Works by Elfriede Jelinek include The Piano Teacher, Women as Lovers, Lust, and Wonderful, Wonderful Times, all translated by P.J. Blumenthal and published by Serpent’s Tail Press. She has received over twenty literary prizes and awards in addition to winning the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004.
P.J. Blumenthal studied at the University of North Carolina and is based in Munich. He has worked as a freelance writer and translator. He also worked as a journalist for the popular science magazine PM and PM History and the weekly newspaper Die Zeit. Since 2009 he runs his own blog titled The Sprachbloggeur – a writer with a passion. Besides working for the PM Magazine, he has written several books about Kaspar Hauser.