Photo from the Nobel Foundation archive.
The Nobel Prize in Literature 2004
Born: 20 October 1946, Mürzzuschlag, Austria
Residence at the time of the award: Austria
Prize motivation: "for 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."
Prize share: 1/1
Elfriede Jelinek was born in Mürzzuschlag, Austria in 1946. As a child and adolescent she took lessons in piano and organ playing at the conservatory in Vienna. She studied art and theater at university while also completing her musical studies. By then she also had developed an interest in composing texts, which would eventually be her main form of artistic expression. She married in 1974. Because of her social phobia, she was unable to come to Stockholm and receive her Nobel Prize.
The authorship of Elfriede Jelinek includes drama and poetry as well as prose. Among her most famous works we find the novels 'The Piano Teacher' and 'Lust', both of which are characterized by a satirical sharpness, an experimental urge and an uncompromising outspokenness. Through her work she has made herself known as a harsh critic of modern consumer society, uncovering hidden structures of sexism, sadism and submission. She has expressed that she taps on language to hear its hidden ideologies, much as a doctor might tap on a patient's chest.
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