Grave of Thomas Bernhard.. A.Tufan Palalı, 2023

Bernhard showed me that I would live a false life, ignoring negativity ‘in the name of staying optimistic’. According to Bernhard, ‘the phenomenon we call reality’ can only be understood with the integrity of all positive and negative details. This understanding gives us the opportunity to experience life in its purest form, by revealing the facts in all their clarity. I wanted to go to his grave to increase my closeness to the great writer who enabled me to reach such an understanding.

I am grateful for the helpfulness of Anny Fabjan, whom I came across on the Internet to find out Bernhard’s cemetery address. Anny Fabjan, the wife of Bernhard’s half-brother (Bernhard and his half-brother Dr. Peter Fabjan are the children of the same mother). I started my trip by visiting Cafe Braunerhof, which was suggested by Anny Fabjan (this is one of Bernhard’s favorite cafes in Vienna).


Cafe BraunerhofCafé Braunerhof, Vienna. Photograph: © A.Tufan Palalı, 2023 (Exterior view of the place)

My first visit was Cafe Braunerhof. In the cafe the menu is in German, not self service (waiters take the order) and credit cards are not accepted. The interior is just like in Bernhard’s photos taken here. Originality adds an aura, as if Bernhard will appear suddenly. There is a photo of Bernhard on the wall, and the first page of the menu has this quote from Bernhard:

Das typische Wiener Kaffeehaus, das in der ganzen Welt berühmt ist, habe ich immer gehasst, weil alles in ihm gegen mich ist. Andererseits fühlte ich mich jahrzehntelang gerade im Bräunerhof, das immer ganz gegen mich gewesen ist (wie das Hawelka), wie zuhause, wie in Cafe Museum, wie in anderen Kaffeehäuser von Wien.
(Original Text)

I have always detested the typical Viennese coffeehouse, famous the world over, because I find everything about it inimical to me. Yet for many years it was at the Braunerhof that I felt at home, despite the fact that, like the Hawelka, it was always totally inimical to me, just as I felt at home at the Cafe Museum and at the various other establishments.
(English Version)


Cafe Braunerhof, Vienna. Photograph: © A.Tufan Palalı, 2023 (Bernhard quote on the menu.)

I went to the Cafe at noon, it was quite crowded; such that visitors were waiting at the door and were welcomed according to the availability of seating. At the entrance of the Cafe, the warning note about “visitors waiting until they are shown a place” indicates that the Cafe is always crowded. While drinking my coffee, I was reading Bernhard’s autobiographical narrative titled ‘The Cold’, and sometimes looking at Barnhard’s photo hanging on the Wall. During my ‘one hour stay at the Cafe’, despite the constant crowd, I was not disturbed until I asked for the bill. I paid 4.80 euro for 1 Cappuccino.


Cafe Braunerhof, Viyana. Fotoğraf: © A.Tufan Palalı, 2023 There is only one photograph of Bernhard hanging on the Cafe wall (framed in red).


Cafe Braunerhof, Vienna. Photograph: © A.Tufan Palali, 2023 (There is a photo of Bernhard hanging on the wall in the cafe.)


Cafe Braunerhof, Vienna. Photograph: © A.Tufan Palali, 2023 (Close-up view of Bernhard photo hanging on the wall)

Bernhard wrote in his novel ‘Wittgenstein’s Nephew’ why he likes Kafe Bräunerhof: the feeling of being at home and the kindness of the staff are among these reasons.

Bernhard also has negative opinions about Kafe Bräunerhof; In the novel he wrote:

“At the Braunerhof, above which my friend had lived for years before we met, I am still put off by the foul air and the poor lighting, which is kept down to a minimum- doubtless from perverse considerations of economy and in which I have never been able to read a single line without effort. I also dislike the seating, which is inevitably damaging to the spinal column, however briefly one sits there to say nothing of the pungent smell that emanates from the kitchen and very soon gets into one’s clothes.…”
(Wittgenstein’s Nephew: a friendship)

While the low-light environment in the cafe is relaxing, it’s not ideal for reading as Bernhard writes. Sofas and chairs are also not ergonomic as Bernhard writes; sitting for a long time really makes you tired. But it feels happy to sit in this cafe that has remained original; Because it is not so important that the Cafe is dim or the seats are uncomfortable; the important thing is that those of us who came here for Bernhard can find this original Bernhard aura…



Grave of Thomas Bernhard
My second visit was Bernhard’s grave in the Grinzing area. I went with navigation and 2 vehicles (metro and city bus). After two inner-city journeys of about 20 minutes each and a walk of about 15 minutes, the tomb was in front of me. There was no one in the cemetery, but there was no dreadful atmosphere typical of cemeteries; seemed tidy and secure.


Grave of Thomas Bernhard. Photograph: © A.Tufan Palali, 2023


Grave of Thomas Bernhard. Photograph: © A.Tufan Palali, 2023

I walked to Bernhard’s tomb through the massive and ostentatious tombs. Bernhard’s noble and aesthetic looking tomb reflected Barnhard’s character.. I had great respect for those who made Bernhard’s tomb with such care.  After looking around for a while, I read aloud from “The Cold” by Thomas Bernhard. From time to time, I listened to the wind increasing its intensity I plucked a leaf from the ivy covering the grave as a souvenir.


Grave of Thomas Bernhard. Photograph: © A.Tufan Palali, 2023


Detail from Thomas Bernhard’s Grave. Photograph: © A.Tufan Palali, 2023


Video: © A.Tufan Palalı, 2023

Video: © A.Tufan Palalı, 2023

The windswept pages, the sound of the wind, the rustling leaves mixed with my voice, loaded with Bernhard’s expressions. I thought of Bernhard’s honesty as I sat in this place where the winter sun could not warm it; I questioned myself and found courage.



About Bernhard
Born without a father, Bernhard was born in the Netherlands instead of Austria, due to his mother’s fear of society. Bernhard’s views on life were first shaped by his grandfather. He has produced works in the fields of theater text, short story, novel, essay and poetry, his works have been translated into many languages and awarded. Bernhard died on February 12, 1989, at the age of 58. His burial was carried out by a small number of people and due to his will, the news of his death was announced after his burial.

His negative thoughts towards Austria began when he learned that he had to be born outside of his country. Austria’s ideas of National Socialism and the dominating influence of religious institutions turned Bernhard’s anger into hatred. He expressed his feelings in an aesthetic and powerful language through his works. His hatred reached such a point that he wrote on his will that his works should not be published in Austria.


Vienna. Photograph: © A.Tufan Palali, 2023 (Scene from my personal meeting for the Thomas Bernhard memorial trip)



Photo Equipments I used on the trip

Yashica T5 ve Canon G11_A.Tufan PALALIYashica T5 ve Canon G11, Fotoğraf: © A.Tufan Palalı, 2023

I took two small machines with me (Yashica T5 and Canon G11) as I didn’t want to carry weights on my long walks. When I want to focus on meaning instead of image, small machines are sufficient. I used Agfa APX 400 ASA type film on my analog camera (T5).



-Wittgenstein’s Nephew: A Friendship, Thomas Bernhard. Translated from the German by David McLintock. Alfred A. Knopf (1989).
-Wittgenstein’ın Yeğeni, Bir Dostluk. (Özgün Adı: Wittgensteins Neffe, Eine Freundschaft), Thomas Bernhard. Çeviren: Fatih Özgüven. Metis Yayınları, Dördüncü Basım (2015).

-Soğuk, Bir Soyutlama (Özgün Adı: Die Kälte, Eine Isolation), Thomas Bernhard. Türkçesi: Sezer Duru. Sel Yayıncılık. Birinci Baskı (2016).

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