Over the course of three days in June 1970, seated on a white bench in a Hamburg park, Thomas Bernhard delivered a powerful monologue for Three Days (Drei Tage), filmmaker Ferry Radax’s commanding film portrait of the great Austrian writer. The author of ultimately some forty volumes of plays, fiction, poetry, and a memoir, and recipient of practically every important literary prize that the German-speaking world awards, Bernhard wrote with an exceptional genius and voice, placing him in the pantheon of Beckett, Swift, and Kafka.
Bernhard’s stature as a writer was clear by 1970, when experimental filmmaker Ferry Radax sought out Bernhard and obtained his agreement for an unconventional film portrait to be created over nine days. Bernhard, however, suddenly withdrew his cooperation and would agree only to a three-day shoot in which he would sit on a bench and say what was going through his mind. With characteristic frankness, irascibility, irritation, and acerbic humor—which together evince his great heart—in Three Days, Bernhard extemporaneously articulated his thoughts about his life and about his writing. Radax interwove the monologue with resonant visual techniques—blackouts, extreme distance, extreme close-up on his uncomfortable subject.
Published for the first time in English, and for the first time with imagery from the film and source material that spurred Bernhard’s thoughts, this publication of Bernhard’s poetic prose monologue, by turns raw, grave, absurd, tender, and deeply human, is combined with more than 160 stills from Radax’s film, allowing this unique portrait of Bernhard to be savored in book form.