Upon Elfriede Jelinek's selection for the Nobel Prize for Literature, with the novel-The Piano Teacher-being specifically cited, the Italian newspaper, L'Osservatore Romano, courageously criticized the choice. And I, as a reader, couldn't have agreed more. In its explaination, it stated: "...Three hundred pages of brutal recklessness, perverse psychologies and destructive feminine genealogy, intended only to denounce the irremediable inheritance of evil, sin, violence in every form of love." It also read that her works are: "Cold and sad, marked by a lack of communication and abuse, the union of bodies is never open to delicacy or dignity of soul of purpose. [The Piano Teacher's] devastating lasciviousness in the name of political and social denunciation [is] translatable in absolute nihilism."
On reading the The Piano Teacher, what, to me, was impressively conveyed was the mental blurring of day-to-day outer visual realities with the subterfuge of the tormented inner self: the private addiction to pornography, sadomasichism, isolationism and the stark refusal to confront the demon within, as was clearly illustrated with the warped character, Erika Kohut. However, Walter Klemmer's character, his perception of love and what it entails, is equally perveted to the extent that you wanted to dismiss them both. And if both characters-among the others-are supposed to be representative of a vast sense of realistic humanism, why should we want to leave them both behind, despite the fact that they are both so boldly despicable? But that is what Jelinek almost wants to have happen-the manifestation of abandonment, with the emergence of power dominion in tact. Jelinek's characters are not humans. They are robots. Power, not redemptive love, compassion or understanding, is the core theme. The characters are utterly unconvincing, nothing but cliche, cardboard cutouts who revolve around their own obsessed stupidity for a minute degree of unrelenting gender powerplay, where the woman's emotional mentality becomes a man's and vice versa. No normal egressions are at all offered, neither physically nor emotionally. And that somehow stunts the characters and their situations to the point of the whole novel being rather laughable than 'serious' literature.
As a clear illustration of the whole essence of this work, I'd like to cite an excerpt on page 226 with Erika imploring: "Now she pleads for rape, which she pictures more as a steady announcement of rape, nothing could save me from it...tell me in advance that I'll be beside myself with bliss when you treat me brutally but thoroughly...He (Klemmer) should blissfully keep slapping her, hard and steadily. Thank-you very much in advance!" And it gets much, much worse. If that is an aspect of feminism, I feel really sorry for feminists or anyone who adopts the ideal that sex is a form of power control to be used and manipulated for gain and self-glorification--irrelevant of genders. And to the Nobel Academy, I think their choice speaks for itself.