Peter Fabjan

A Life Alongside Thomas Bernhard - A Report

With colour images
Peter Fabjan
Foto: Peter Fabjan
© Suhrkamp Verlag

Peter Fabjan, born in Traunstein, Germany, in 1938, studied medicine in Vienna and worked as an internist until 2001. After the death of Thomas Bernhard, he assumed responsibility of his brother’s estate. He founded the Thomas Bernhard Archive, the Thomas-Bernhard-Privatstiftung and the International Thomas Bernhard Society (ITBG) of which he is the honorary president. Peter Fabjan lives in Gmunden, Austria.

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17.000 copies sold in the first month of publication


»You’ll just have to do it in my stead,« Thomas Bernhard instructs his half-brother Peter Fabjan when he senses that he doesn’t have long to live. And the brother, seven years his junior, obeys and accepts responsibility, this time for a difficult legacy – just as he has always done, ever since he was young, when his older brother needed him. To him, he was »the kind brother,« whereas Fabjan considers himself more as a »helper in times of need,« for it was often enough that he found himself playing the role of driver and servant who sat at the side table while his brother chatted with famous politicians and celebrities from the art world.

In his memoirs, Peter Fabjan, simultaneously brother and doctor to Thomas Bernhard, gives an insight into his life alongside but mainly in the shadow of the Austrian playwright and novelist who rose to international fame. He talks about the difficult and often fraught family life and about their childhood during the war, their travels to the USA or Portugal and about the efforts taken to keep his patient, affected by his long and severe illness, alive. A candid, frank and honest report.


»Peter Fabjan must be commended for being dutiful once more and recording his version of the story for future generations of readers.« Hannes Hintermeier, Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung

»Peter Fabjan has not escaped his half-brother’s attempts at destruction. Nevertheless, he staves off lukewarm sentiments by writing with downright brotherly love. He wants to save. […] That is fantastic and at times leads to a subtle humour in Fabjan’s book that could have been penned by the master himself.« Paul Jandl, Neue Zürcher Zeitung

»Thomas Bernhard is anything but forgotten but what with all the Bernhard folklore, the person behind the work has disappeared. Peter Fabjan brings him back to us.« Marc Reichwein, Welt am Sonntag

»The leisurely pace is part of Fabjan‘s search for accuracy and correctness […] Openly without any illusions, he evaluates the relationship between the siblings.« Judith von Sternburg, Frankfurter Rundschau