Thomas Bernhard on Grandfathers

From the Austrian writer’s memoir
thomas-bernhard-grandfather-photograph
Thomas Bernhard as a child, pictured with his grandfather Johannes Freumbichler

Grandfathers are our teachers, our real philosophers. They are the people who pull open the curtain that others are always closing. When we are with them, we see things as they really are – not just the auditorium but the stage and all that goes on behind the scenes. For thousands of years grandfathers have taken it upon themselves to create the devil where otherwise there would have been only God. Through them we see the drama in all its fullness, not just a pathetic bowdlerized fragment, for what it is: pure farce. Grandfathers put their grandchildren’s heads where at least there is something interesting to see, even if it is not always easy to understand; and by always insisting on what is essential they save us from the dreary indigence in which, were it not for them, we should undoubtedly soon suffocate.

Excerpted from Thomas Bernhard, ‘A Child’ in Gathering Evidence: A Memoir (translated by David McLintock).

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