18 June 08 | E.J. Van Lanen

Over at Ready Steady Book, Stephen reviews Senselessness:

The uncommon, elongated noun describing the mental state of the father is enough to remind the reader of Bernhard’s 1967 novel Verstörung — translated as Gargoyles yet meaning “disturbance” — in which a doctor takes his student son on a tour of his patients in rural Austria. It exposes him to a world of sick, brutalised and grotesquely malformed bodies and souls, just as the unnamed narrator of Senselessness is exposed to the haunted words of ravaged peasants. Inheritance is the bond. Where the son discovers that an escape into rational enquiry will not protect him from what’s bred in the bone, the editor will find his assured world of hard drinking and casual sex threatened by sentences emerging from what had once been silence.

His highly-wrought prose is consistent with a voice maintaining itself on an awareness of imminent breakdown. What happens on the doctor’s round in Gargoyles has a memorable impact on the novel. As if the son’s account has already succumbed to his inheritance, the second half is annexed by the monologuing Prince Saurau, an aristocrat whom father and son visit in his castle. For this reason, Castellanos Moya’s adoption of Bernhard’s style can be seen as more than homage. The editor in Senselessness is himself not all there; what we read is the inheritance of the manuscript.


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