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|Title:||Mastery and Mock Dialectic in Thomas Bernhard's Correction|
|Authors:||Jeffrey W. Salyer|
Department of English, NTNU
|Abstract:||A central conflict in Thomas Bernhard's novel Correction (Korrektur) concerns the relation between the narrator and his deceased friend, Roithamer, for whom the narrator serves as literary executor. Although Roithamer is dead, the two men nonetheless appear to enter a conflictive struggle involving domination and mastery since the narrator understands Roithamer's bequest as an aggressive gesture intended to destroy him. Though the general form of the contest resembles the Hegelian master-slave dialectic, the dialectic is subjected to two types of critique. The first critical point concerns the theatricalization or staging of conflict in Höller's garret, the spatial focus of the novel; the second is connected to identity and the recuperation of meaning vis-à-vis correction in the special sense of the novel's title. Although the notion of dialectic as a process initiated by non-identity is already present in the special meaning of correction, by which concepts are ruthlessly subjected to negations of negations, correction also refers to suicide—Roithamer "corrects" himself out of existence. In this sense of correction, the struggle does indeed respond to internal contradiction but cannot be recuperated in sublation; the result is more akin to abstract negation, annihilation, andtherefore an attack on the very conditions which make meaning possible. The question remains whether the narrator is compelled to function slavishly by extending recognition to Roithamer through his labor, or whether he can evade both the "restricted economy" of Hegelian negation without succumbing toRoithamer's extreme act of self-destruction. Several critics (Adorno, Deleuze, and Derrida) point the way through these two applications of Hegel—first, inhelping to show how what is in fact happening, in the potential discursive reduction of Roithamer through the labor of the narrator, is either mock-dialectic or formal liquidation and second, in pointing up the significance of the narrator's laug|
|Appears in Collections:||Concentric: Studies in English Literature and Linguistics|
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