Her 1984 play Burgtheater caused a huge scandal. It attacked two sacred monsters of the Austrian theatre, the actors Paula Wessely and Karl Hörbiger, who picked up their careers again after the second world war despite having acted in Third Reich propaganda films. As Jelinek puts it: “I’m a little baroque cherub of revenge, and every day I carefully hone my hatred for this country.”
Her membership of the tiny Communist party from 1974-91, her flaunted feminism and her commitment to the fight against xenophobia have been lambasted by the FPO for the past decade. Haider has described her as “a deeply frustrated woman”, and some newspapers caricature her as a virago or a dominatrix….
The more Jelinek writes, the more she seems tied down to her source of inspiration, which oscillates between Munich and Vienna. It is hard to believe that she has never set foot in Britain, the United States or Russia, where she has an enthusiastic following. Austria remains her stamping ground – and her prison.
This is true. Despite her recent honours, Austrians a group do not like Jelinek. Her dark and unpleasant view of human nature is inimical to their good-natured existence. Even the drunks are harmless in Vienna, asking kindly for change or for you to buy their newspaper, rather than snarling.
I can’t judge the writing, but most do not even like her language. Confusing, unpleasant.
Strange that the Nobel committee couldn’t find an Austrian writer that Austrians actually like. Apparently there are three or four of them of high merit.