Elfriede Jelinek

Jelinek, Elfriede (yĕlˈĭnĕk) [key], 1946–, Austrian novelist and playwright, b. Mürzzuschlag. A trained musician who also studied art history and theater, she began her literary career with the poems of Lisas Schatten (1967) and turned to fiction in her first novel (1970). She became a well-known and extremely controversial figure in her homeland with the publication of three novels, Die Liebhaberinnen (1975, tr. Women as Lovers, 1994), Die Ausgesperrten (1980, tr. Wonderful, Wonderful Times, 1990), and the semiautobiographical Klavierspielerin (1983, tr. The Piano Teacher, 1988; film, 2001). A fiercely feminist writer and an outspoken partisan of left-wing political views, she has often focused on issues of power and privilege, mainly the social subordination and violent sexual subjugation of women, and on Austria's Nazi past and nationalist present. She has been particularly praised for her powerful yet sensitive use of multilayered language. Her later novels include Lust (1989, tr. 1992), Die Kinder der Toten [children of the dead] (1995), and Gier (2000, tr. Greed, 2007). She is also known for her unconventional radio and stage plays, e.g., Burgtheater (1984), The Farewell (2001), and Bambiland (2003), and has written screenplays, an opera libretto, and essays. The winner of Germany's Böll (1986), Büchner (1998), and Heine (2002) prizes, she was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2004.

See studies by A. Fiddler (1994) and J. B. Johns and K. Arens, ed. (1994).

The Columbia Electronic Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright © 2012, Columbia University Press. All rights reserved.

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