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Elfriede Jelinek

On 1 May, only five days after news broke that a 73-year-old man, Josef Fritzl, had immured one of his seven children, his 18-year-old daughter Elisabeth, in a specially fortified cellar under his house in the small town of Amstetten in Lower Austria, and kept her there for 24 years, abusing her persistently and fathering seven more children on her, Elfriede Jelinek, Austria’s Nobel Prize winning novelist, posted a short essay on her website under the title ‘Im Verlassenen’. It begins: ‘Austria is a small world in which the big world holds its rehearsal. The performance takes place in the very much smaller cellar dungeon in Amstetten—daily, nightly. No performance is ever missed . . . Performances are all there can ever be.’

Excuse us for a moment if we get all highbrow on you, but we really want to suggest you read “Up from the Cellar,” an appreciation of Jelinek in the current London Review of Books.

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