Three late prose works of the Austrian novelist and playwright Thomas Bernhard (1931-1989), published between 1983 and 1985, display a number of interesting similarities and intertextual references in form and content. They are considered here as a single, trilogy-like work, replacing the monumental Extinction (which appeared in 1986 but was completed as early as 1981/2) as Bernhard's magnum opus.
Taking as its point of departure a close textual analysis, the work attempts to unveil the internal construction of the novel rather than second-guess the author and his intentions. The underlying model for this project is Nabokov's famous reading of Kafka's "Metamorphosis." The three novels under consideration share a common core of narrative structure. Each one derives its composition from the form of art that is also central to the plot: music, drama, and painting respectively.
In all three works, the untenability of the narrative situation is thematized.
As the inherent perspective is dissolved, the musical, dramatic, and compositional structures are revealed that form the basis of these prose experiments.