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Controversy Is Ignored

February 14, 1988

Regarding Richard Eder's review of Thomas Bernhard's "Woodcutters" (View, Jan. 20): Eder fails to mention the controversy surrounding the publication of the novel in Austria in 1984. The book was pulled from bookstores when certain Viennese, maintaining that the novel was too uncomfortably a roman a clef, threatened legal action. Bernhard, for his part, threatened to pull all of his books from Austrian bookstores, and the issue quickly resolved itself.

Second, Eder errs when he states that there is no irony in the work, specifically in the narrator's aloofness. In fact, Bernhard's works are quite comic. In "Woodcutters," there are moments--the narrator's readjusted opinion of the actor, for example--that provide relief from the gloom. Eder acknowledges the narrator's existentialist pleas, but misses the narrator's self-criticism and occasional sympathy with the person he berates. It is puzzling that the review ignores the actor, the guest of the party whose own subjective ramblings take up the second half of the novel.

MICHAEL P. OLSON

LOS ANGELES

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