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Lust par Elfriede Jelinek

Lust (original 1989; édition 2004)

par Elfriede Jelinek, Margaretha Holmqvist

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Hermann is the manager of a paper mill in an Austrian ski resort. Dictatorial and tyrannical, he sexually abuses his wife, Gerti, on a routine basis. She is "rescued'' by Michael, an ambitious young man with designs on a political career, who is no less of a sexual predator than her husband.
Auteurs:Elfriede Jelinek
Autres auteurs:Margaretha Holmqvist
Info:Stockholm : Forum, 2004
Collections:Votre bibliothèque
Mots-clés:H-hyllan, Roman

Détails de l'œuvre

Lust par Elfriede Jelinek (Author) (1989)


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Esta novela, que provocó un notable escándalo en su país, supone un prodigioso ejercicio narrativo tanto desde el punto de vista del estilo como del estructural. El lenguaje crudo y preciso y el elevado tono erótico de Deseo, rompen con todas las convenciones de lo que se ha venido llamando la literatura femenina.
  ArchivoPietro | Oct 25, 2020 |
I’m a big fan of Michael Haneke’s films, and after seeing his The Piano Teacher, and learning that it was an adaptation of a novel by a Nobel laureate, I bought the book and read it and thought it very good. And then recently I thought it about time I read more Jelinek, so I picked up a copy of Lust, as it was quite short. It was perhaps not the wisest book to read on my daily commute, given the title. But never mind. The story is a brutal depiction of a marriage in wich the wife is treated as chattel by her husband. And when she eventually breaks free and finds herself a lover, he proves just as bad. What I had not remembered from The Piano Teacher, and perhaps that was down to the translator, but Lust was one long string of wordgames and puns and plays on words. It was relentless. Given its subject, it should come as no surprise the wordplay mostly focuses on sex, and especially on the male sex organ. I have no idea how this worked in German, or in the Austrian dialect in which Jelinek writes, but in English it felt to me like a dilution of the novel’s central point. The wife is entirely subject to the husband, she exists to satisfy his sexual desires, just as much as she is there to look after him and their spoilt son. Some of the expressions used, “shot his bolt”, for example, feel too… childish, schoolboyish, and while I get that the breadth and variety are what’s important, it does seem to detract from the brutality. This is an ugly book, about an ugly subject, so perhaps the wordplay is intended to add to that ugliness and it works much better in German. But this is definitely a book that provokes a reaction, and I’ll be reading more Jelinek. ( )
  iansales | Jan 12, 2018 |
A darkly comical satire on the sex lives of the Austrian Bourgeoisie. Jelinek wants to make us see how the ideas about sexual relations, consumer products, high culture and winter sport that we get from the dominant ideology are all there to reinforce the abusive power of rich over poor, strong over weak, industry over nature, and men over women that go together - in her view - with modern capitalism. She does this by turning all these propaganda tools around to say the opposite of what we're used to hearing. The language of porn is used (quite literally, ad nauseam) to make us see sex as repulsive and abusive; lines from advertisements, political manifestos, poems, and the Bible are wilfully misapplied (a line from a Schubert song suddenly turns out to be talking about a penis instead of a romantic poet...). Very clever, and something only a writer with Jelinek's overpowering anger and magical facility with words could even begin to get away with.

The story follows the lives of a model Austrian family in a small community in the mountains: the Herr Direktor who runs the paperworks that is the only important local employer (and hence has a quasi-feudal power of life or death over everyone in the village); his wife Gerti, and their annoying small son who talks all the time and gets in the way when they want to have sex (evidently a little dig at Hamlet...). Gerti passively acquiesces in her husband's frequent, complex and increasingly obnoxious sexual demands (unfortunately, the HIV panic is at its height, and he's forced to seek all his pleasures at home for the time being), and she accepts the new clothes, hairdressing appointments and consumer durables that she gets in return, but she's also taking to the bottle, and drifts into a brief, unhappy affair with the heartless but angelic skier, Michael. In this world, sex is only marginally about the prospect of brief - and usually illusory - pleasure; what's really going on is men getting a thrill from their dominance and possession, whilst women desperately try to find the validation of having someone out there who needs and appreciates them. Jelinek makes it clear that the Herr Direktor puts Gerti firmly in the same category as his Mercedes, his hi-fi, and the workers' choir he conducts: an expensive bit of precision engineering he can bend to his will by twiddling the appropriate knobs.

I think what Jelinek is doing here is not attempting to persuade us that all marriages are like this, or that Austria is run by robber-barons who haven't changed much since the 14th century, but rather she's using her exaggerated disgust to show us how easily the discourse of sex can be twisted to feed us false ideas. If she can do this to us in 250 pages, how far have our minds been warped by all the stuff we've read about sex and romance, and all the films and washing-powder commercials we've seen...? ( )
3 voter thorold | Jul 9, 2015 |

Sitting down this autumn to the work of transposing all my hand-written work from last summer onto my computer I am somewhat surprised at how relevant this particular work of Elfriede Jelinek is to what I myself had been impelled to write about. Reading for me is far more than a diversion from my life. This novel makes me think. Clearly I am no longer of the patriarchal and consumer-driven society I have been born into, and I have done my utmost to insure against my falling back into what I so laboriously rid myself of further becoming. Yes, I am married to a woman I have sex with, but never a day passes in which I am not grateful for her and what she does for me. I never feel entitled to anything awarded me except for the continuance of a fair shake and honest relationship. Deceit and covert affronts of power are expressly not my cup of tea.

Elfriede Jelinek is a poet. Or the translator, Michael Hulse, is a poet. It matters not to me who the responsible party is here. Fact is, this novel is a masterpiece in brutal honesty. Fiction as fact. I know these people she writes about and they exist in the world I live in. They always have. They are my neighbors and we live in the same towns.

A third of the way into this beautifully profound though vicious treatise the narrator, after somewhat sarcastically speaking of a factory worker fetching from the dispenser a refreshing Coke, says the word I. She, or he, unhesitatingly and frankly makes strong claims.

Wood is pulped and the pulp is processed at the mill by people who’ve been pulped…

Obviously the opinions voiced in this narrator’s countless personal attacks are broad and thoroughly encompassing. Because of mounting evidence and personal experience I feel confident that Elfriede is not exclusively a man-hater as others have previously suggested. To label her one is totally unfair. Obviously she equally hates all that is oppressive and insanely preposterous, which covers enormous swaths of ground and leaves her much else to expose in the course of her saying so. As for the pitiful women she portrays she clearly positions herself above and beyond them, and in fact holds them responsible for the spousal abuse they receive inasmuch as they are themselves slaves to wanting the things and prestige that only money can buy. This mass disease of consumerism is as much at fault as the worldly desire for more money and property. Through the ages this hunger has undoubtedly proven to feed a vicious cycle of abuse. In matters of sexual behaviors Jelinek goes well over the line in order to be herself appropriately absurd. The gargantuan number of orifices filled and splayed seem almost hilarious and often delightfully insane.

…Nature presupposes sheer scale: anything of a smaller size could never excite us or entice us, tempt us to buy a dirndl dress or a hunting outfit…

She is equally without hope for all who are oppressed. It is the human condition we are born with. Oppressed people the world over resort to life’s foibles to determine the results and direction of their flawed and blemished lives. The ones-in-charge continue to profit and consider themselves superior in their disgusting delusions of grandeur. There are so many of life’s examples to this affect that Jelinek has little trouble digressing and exploring the diverse and meandering avenues and countrysides of our often pathetic and meaningless existence.

…All day long a man lives off the beautiful image of his wife, only to have her nag all evening…She and the village women and all of us, there we stand, dripping and thawing, facing the kitchen stove and counting the tablespoonfuls in which we dole ourselves out…

Unrelenting in her assault of all, and the insults she spews upon us, Jelinek scours her cynical mind for the strongest corrosive agent she may engage. Her courageous honesty is so absurd to be somewhat funny and profanely enjoyable to read. A weaker mind of lesser character could never delight in these scribblings patterned in short paragraphs of hers that never fail to inspire a reader to go on and hear what else she might have to say about these people we all should know and be dreadfully aware of. Otherwise we are one of them as well. Better to be a recreational observer slouched within the stuffing of our leisure chair, devoid of any personal feeling of responsibility that urges us to also merge within these irrelevant lives as additional willing participants.

…Even the station-master’s slender signal baton is almost too much for her. She is obeying her own command. And no one else’s… In the midst of her life, this woman often likes to think she has to get out of her alignment alongside other women with sagging breasts and hopes who have docked beside her…

Jelinek, in her way, promotes self-awareness and personal responsibility. When a reader is offended by these painfully direct accounts and graphic details explicitly made out for us it pauses me to consider the source of their written complaints and credit them to another version of the typically judgmental and self-righteous one who holds little to no credibility based on a typically guilty history. The sensitive man who feels somehow affronted as well is considered also in less than a good light as we are all complicit of these same behaviors and thoughts no matter how hard we impress ourselves and others in our attempts to deny them.

For wary readers it seems Jelinek’s incessant bombardment is meant in order to wear one down. She is anything but taciturn in her sometimes disgusting assaults so perversely avowed. Two-thirds through this generously elongated tirade marks a new measure of tiredness. She flirts with boredom. It is possible the book could have ended at this same mark. But perhaps she still has something new and yet unheard of to say? Surely it is hoped her constant fucking and sucking might beget a new meaning. It is true the hairdresser fails at keeping Gerti fresh. No longer available to Jelinek are any additional analogies for going downhill. Perhaps she could have the fuckers skiing backwards, or perhaps in reverse?

…The woman doesn’t improve from constant use, but if she herself wants to avail herself of a young man, make herself available to a fellow who lives nearby: no, it won’t do! ...

So Gerti degrades herself even more. A husband who uses her every hole to fill and gorge with his own juices and then leaves her soiled and bent with nary a kiss goodbye is still not enough abuse for her so Gerti ventures out to seek more in the shape and forms of youth that are now and forever escaping her.

…But we, us extras, we are so difficult to move, we hang leaden upon our catheters, through which our warm waste waters trickle wretchedly away…

Being drunk and spread out on the snow of her own digging, wanting too much to be loved, enamored of herself, delusional enough so that gangs of young men and women are allowed to expose and fondle, grab and mishandle her hidden places, her creases and folds torn and spread enough to spew their juices laughably, considered by these kids as no longer needed and instead worn and desperately used up.

…Gerti is put in her car. Quiet, now! How shall I put it? She has been at the mercy of hands and tongues…

And for some of us having been roughly groped and fondled like this would be just what we have wanted. An orgy designed for denying personal despair. But not Gerti. She wants the young man Michael and not the rest of what comes with him. The narrator frankly tells us that this woman has to get attached to an asshole like Michael, of all people… He grabs roughly inside the front of her coat and dress, and, laughing, tugs and twists her nipples…

The book is strikingly more about regrets over life choices rather than the popular blurbed-war between the sexes. Poor choices and not being true to one’s self plays into this work in far greater measure than feminism and spousal abuse. On almost every page men and women being caught up in superficial looks and pretentious appearances are shown as contagious diseases prevalent throughout our consumer-driven societies.

…Torn and tormented, we become visible, and we want to look good for others, to think of what we paid for our clothes, we no longer have what we paid and we notice the lack when we have to undress and caress our partner in love…

Defeated, in the world of lust, youth rules. Age is not kind, and life simply wears one out.

…Thus their round fat bodies hum away, life goes on, man vanishes continually in death, the hours sink to the ground, but women flit numbly about the house, never safe from all the blows that fate deals…

There is no hope. And ultimately a god is blamed or held responsible for this creation. It is hard to imagine a work like this becoming popular.

…Flabbergasted, the men gape into their women’s holes, torn by life, and yes, they shudder, as if they knew that the box had long been empty from which the seeds have been shaken out for years. But the dear women are so attached to them...

In this book Elfriede Jelinek has much to say. Of which ample need impels all of us to consider. And where we might also discover why her violence is most driven. ( )
  MSarki | Jan 24, 2015 |
Det är klart hon ska ha nobelpris. Men ruskigt är det.
  lasseorrskog | May 20, 2014 |
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Nom de l'auteur(e)RôleType d'auteurŒuvre ?Statut
Jelinek, ElfriedeAuteurauteur(e) principal(e)toutes les éditionsconfirmé
Hulse, MichaelTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Sarchielli, RosannaTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Sinković, HelenTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé
Valkengoed, JosTraducteurauteur secondairequelques éditionsconfirmé

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Sprofondato nello spazio abissale attinsi alla coppa dell'amico...quando mi volsi verso la luce, non v'era più nulla, fino all'orizzonte estremo, che io era ormai allontanato il gregge con cui correvo.                      Johannes vom Kreuz
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Cortine di veli si tendono intorno alla donna avvolta nel suo involucro, la separano dagli altri, che possiedono anch'essi proprie dimore e proprie qualità. Anche i poveri hanno un domicilio che racchiude i loro volti gentili, solo la quotidianità sempre eguale li divide.
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Hermann is the manager of a paper mill in an Austrian ski resort. Dictatorial and tyrannical, he sexually abuses his wife, Gerti, on a routine basis. She is "rescued'' by Michael, an ambitious young man with designs on a political career, who is no less of a sexual predator than her husband.

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