Zwei Wege zur 'Aufhellung der Finsternisse in der Welt'. Zum untergründigen Wechselverhältnis von Literatur & Malerei bei Thomas Bernhard & Francis Bacon:for subterranean exchange relationship between literature and painting in Thomas Bernhard & Francis Bacon
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This chapter undertakes the first examination of the role the fine arts play in Thomas Bernhard’s prose works. Though not as prominent as the role of music, painting and the fine arts play a crucial role in Frost and Alte Meister; these two novels coincidentally also happen to be the first and last novels written by Bernhard. This chapter takes its cue from the positive role awarded to Francis Bacon in the novel Das Kalkwerk. Comparing and contrasting the relation and influence between the art of Bacon and the literature of Bernhard, I am able to demonstrate a number of surprising analogies. Following a brief biographical synopsis, I focus on four aesthetic operations that are crucial to both artists. Using the key terms of ‘middle way’, ‘variation’, ‘vibration’ and ‘mediation’, I am able to uncover surprising similarities between the novels and the paintings. These hidden connections are further confirmed by looking at the two artists’ shared major motifs, namely the slaughterhouse, the scream, the relation between animals and humans, and pain. This bleak outlook on the state of human civilisation that these two major artists of the end of the 20th century share, embodies both a warning and a prophesy for the 21st century.
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