Elfriede Jelinek

Jelinek was born in in Mürzzuschlag in Steiermark, Austria, in 1946. Her mother was a Viennese Catholic and her father a Czech Jew. She was a member of the Communist Party from 1974 to 1991.

In 2004 she won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Nobel Prize committee commended ‘her musical flow of voices and counter-voices in novels and plays that with extraordinary linguistic zeal reveal the absurdity of society's clichés and their subjugating power.’

Jelinek divides her time between Vienna and Munich.

Jelinek’s works are often characterised by linguistic experimentation and angry, subversive humour.

Jelinek’s novels include:

wir sind lockvögel baby!; We’re Decoys, Baby! (1970)

Michael. Ein Jugendbuch für die Infantilgesellschaft; Michael. A Young Person's Guide to Infantile Society (1972)

Die Liebhaberinnen; Women as Lovers (1975)

Die Klavierspielerin; The Piano Player (1983)

Lust (1989)

Die Kinder der Toten; The Children of the Dead (1995)

Gier; Greed (2000)

Neid; Envy (2007-08) [this novel is available free on Jelinek’s homepage, see link below)

Jelinek’s plays include:

Was geschah, nachdem Nora ihren Mann verlassen hatte; What happened after Nora left her husband (1978)

Burgtheater. Posse mit Gesang; Burgtheater. Farce with Songs (1985)

Krankheit oder Moderne Frauen; Disease, or Modern Women (1984)

Totenauberg (1992)

Ein Sportstück; A Sport Play (1998)

Prinzessinnendramen: Der Tod und das Mädchen I-V; Princess Dramas: Death and the Maiden I-V (2002)

Ulrike Maria Stuart (2006)

Die Kontrakte des Kaufmanns. Eine Wirtschaftskomödie; The Salesman’s Contracts. A financial comedy (2009)

Winterreise; Winter Journey (2011)

Further Reading in English

Brenda L. Bethman, ‘“My Characters Live Only Insofar as They Speak”: Interview with Elfriede Jelinek’, Women in German Yearbook 16 (2000), 61-72

Allyson Fiddler, Rewriting Reality: An Introduction to Elfriede Jelinek (Oxford: Berg, 1994)

Allyson Fiddler, ‘Reading Elfriede Jelinek’ in Chris Weedon (ed.), Post-war Women’s Writing in German: Feminist Critical Approaches (Oxford and New York: Berghahn, 1997), pp. 291-304

Allyson Fiddler, ‘Subjectivity and women’s writing of the 1970s and early 1980s’ in Graham Bartram (ed.), The Cambridge Companion to the Modern German Novel (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2004), pp. 249-65

Jorun B. Johns and Katherine Arens (eds.), Elfriede Jelinek: Framed by Language (Riverside, CA: Ariadne, 1994)

Matthias Konzett, The Rhetoric of National Dissent in Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke, and Elfriede Jelinek (Rochester, NY: Camden House, 2000)

Ben Morgan, ‘Elfriede Jelinek’, in Landmarks in German Women’s Writing, ed. by Hilary Brown (Bern: Peter Lang, 2007), pp. 193-210

Jay Julian Rosellini, Haider, Jelinek, and the Austrian Culture Wars (LaVergne, Tenn.: J. Rosellini, 2009)

Further Reading on Jelinek’s plays

Allyson Fiddler, ‘Staging Jörg Haider: Protest and Resignation in Elfriede Jelinek’s Das Lebewohl and other Recent Texts for the Theatre’, Modern Language Review 97:2 (2002), 353-64

Allyson Fiddler, ‘Jelinek, Burgtheater’, in Landmarks in German Comedy, ed. by Peter Hutchinson (Bern: Peter Lang, 2006), pp. 227-42

Ben Morgan, ‘Jelinek, "Krankheit oder moderne Frauen"’, in Landmarks in German Drama, ed. by Peter Hutchinson (Bern: Peter Lang, 2002), pp. 225-42

Georgina Paul, ‘The Terrorist in the Theatre: Elfriede Jelinek's/Nicolas Stemann’s Ulrike Maria Stuart’, German Life and Letters 64:1 (2011), 122-32

Tom Smith, ‘Emotional Ambivalence and the Musical Canon: Elfriede Jelinek’s Restaging of Schubert’s Songs in Winterreise (2011)’, German Life and Letters 71:3 (2018), 331-52

Karl Ivan Solibakke, ‘Geseire, Geleiere und Gehübungen: Music and Sports in Elfriede Jelinek’s Die Klavierspielerin and Winterreise’, Austrian Studies 22 (2014), 106-120

Further Reading in German

Kurt Bartsch and Günther A. Höfler (eds.), Elfriede Jelinek (Graz: Droschl, 1991)

Christa Gürtler (ed.), Gegen den schönen Schein: Texte zu Elfriede Jelinek (Frankfurt am Main: Neue Kritik, 1990)

Pia Janke (ed.), Jelinek-Handbuch (Stuttgart and Weimar: Metzler, 2013)

Marlies Janz, Elfriede Jelinek (Stuttgart: Metzler, 1995)

Web Links in English

Poems by Elfriede Jelinek in English translation

Elfriede Jelinek biography by Jeanine Tuschling, hosted by the Centre for the Study of Contemporary Women's Writing (CCWW) at the University of London

Web Links in German

Elfriede Jelinek’s homepage (contains some texts in English)

Elfriede Jelinek Research Centre in Vienna