Rein Gold – Elfriede Jelinek


Translated by Gitta Honegger


‘Jelinek’s work is brave, adventurous, witty, antagonistic and devastatingly right about the sorriness of human existence, and her contempt is expressed with surprising chirpiness: it’s a wild ride.’
— Guardian

‘Translated with verve by Gitta Honegger, [rein GOLD] becomes a series of monologues without paragraph breaks: a frequent discordant assault on the senses. A visceral challenge to lazy and pernicious consumerism… Brünnhilde and Wotan may have the names of gods, but they play down and dirty, their lengthy slanging match ripe with expletives and references to popular culture and Marxist and anarchist theory, the most obvious being Pierre-Joseph Proudhon’s slogan “Property is theft.”… Jelinek’s critique is simultaneously timely and timeless, as Brünnhilde and Wotan’s arguments and digressions map capitalism’s progression.’
— Catherine Taylor, Financial Times

‘The liveliness of Jelinek’s language (in Gitta Honegger’s translation, which deftly renders all manner of wordplay) is undeniable… rein GOLD is highly evocative of the endless onward stagger of late capitalism’
— Martin Herbert, ArtReview

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Originally written as a libretto for the Berlin State Opera, Elfriede Jelinek’s rein GOLD reconstructs the events of Wagner’s epic Ring cycle and extends them into the present day. Brünnhilde diagnoses Wotan, father of the gods, to be a victim of capitalism because he, too, has fallen into the trap of wanting to own a castle he cannot afford. In a series of monologues, Brünnhilde and Wotan chart the evolution of capitalism from the Nibelungen Saga to the 2008 financial crisis. Written with her trademark ‘extraordinary linguistic zeal’ (Swedish Academy), rein GOLD is a playful and ferocious critique of universal greed by the 2004 Nobel Prize in Literature laureate.

About the Author

Elfriede Jelinek, who was born in 1946 and grew up in Vienna, now lives in Vienna and Munich. She has received numerous awards for her literary works, which include not only novels but also plays, poetry, essays, translations, radio plays, screenplays and opera librettos. Her awards include the Georg Büchner Prize and the Franz Kafka Prize for Literature. She was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature in 2004 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’.

Gitta Honegger was previously Professor of Theatre at Arizona State University and Professor of Dramaturgy and Dramatic Criticism at the Yale School of Drama. She also served as the resident dramaturg and stage director at the Yale Repertory Theatre. Translations from German include plays by Elfriede Jelinek, Thomas Bernhard, Peter Handke, Peter Turrini, Marieluise Fleißer, Elias Canetti and others. Her work has been supported by several grants, including a Guggenheim and a Fulbright/IFK Fellowship.


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