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Hearing the Silences in Thomas Bernhard's Ja: Difference, Narrative and Lyotard's Concept of the Differend

Lookup NU author(s): Dr Teresa Ludden


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This article examines Thomas Bernhard's largely neglected short novel Ja (1978) in terms of how silences and textual lacunae function. It uses Lyotard's concept of the differend and Wittgenstein's notion of language-games to analyse the representation of the relationship between the narrator's inner monologue and the female character, ‘die Perserin’. It argues that the text alludes to incommensurability between the narrator's idiom and the Persian woman's history and suffering, as well as criticising the imposition of a meta-language and practising an anti-ventriloquism regarding the Persian woman's pain and despair, thus opening the narrative and the text up to its own silences and failings.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Ludden T

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: German Life and Letters

Year: 2010

Volume: 63

Issue: 1

Pages: 6-19

Print publication date: 03/01/2010

ISSN (print): 0016-8777

ISSN (electronic): 1468-0483

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell Publishing Ltd.


DOI: 10.1111/j.1468-0483.2009.01479.x


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