Bayer, Konrad 1932-1964

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BAYER, Konrad 1932-1964

PERSONAL: Born December 17, 1932, in Vienna, Austria; committed suicide October 10, 1964; married, wife's name Traudl, 1960. Education: Attended University of Vienna.

CAREER: Author. Bank employee, 1957; managed Ernst Fuchs' art gallery; co-founder, with Hans Carl Artmann and Gerhard Rühm, of Exil (literary club; later Wiener Grüppe); co-founder (with Wiener Grüppe) edition 62 (literary journal), 1962. Acted in several experimental films, including Peter Kubelka's Mosaik im Vertrauen, 1955; three versions of Sonne halt! 1959-62; and three versions of Ferry Radax's Am Rand, 1961-63.


(With Oswald Wiener) Starker Toback: Kleine Fibel für den Ratlosen (title means "Strong Tobacco: Little Primer for the Perplexed"), Dead Language (Paris, France), 1962.

Der Stein der Weisen (title means "The Stone of Wisdom"), Fietkau (Berlin, Germany), 1963.

(With H. C. Artmann and Gerhard Rühm) Montagen1956 (title means "Assembly Lines 1956"), Kulturer (Bleinurg, Germany), 1964.

Thorostein, 1964.

Der Kopf des Vitus Bering, Walter (Olten, Switzerland), 1965, translated by Walter Billeter as The Head of Vitus Bering: A Portrait in Prose, Rigmarole of the Hours (Melbourne, Australia), 1979.

Der Sechste Sinn (novel), edited by Gerhard Rühm, Rowohlt (Hamburg, Germany), 1966, revised by Rühm, 1969, reprinted, Deuticke (Vienna, Austria), 1993.

Das Gesamtwerk, edited by Gerhard Rühm, Rowohlt (Hamburg, Germany), 1977.

Sämtliche Werke, two volumes, edited by Gerhard Rühm, Klett-Cotta (Stuttgart, Germany), 1985.

Selected Works of Konrad Bayer, translated by M. Green, Atlas (London, England), 1986.


Ein Abenteuer des Lion von Belford (title means "An Adventure of the Lion of Belford"), 1954.

Der Analfabet, 1956.

Bräutigall und Anonymphe, 1959.

Idiot, 1960.

Der Berg und der See (title means "The Mountain and the Lake"), 1961.

Die Begabten Zuschauer (title means "The Talented Spectators"), 1962.

Kasperl am elektrischen Stuhl (title means "Kasperl in the Electric Chair"), 1964.

Die Boxer (title means "The Boxers"), 1970.

Contributor to anthologies, including Die Wiener Gruppe: Achleitner, Artmann, Bayer, Rühm, Wiener. Texte, Gemeinschaftsarbeiten, Aktionen, edited by Gerhard Rühm, Rowohlt (Hamburg, Germany), 1967; Ein lilienweier brief aus lincolnshire: gedichte aus 21 jähren, by H. C. Artman, edited by Gerald Bisinger, Suhrkamp (Frankfort, Germany), 1969; and Wien: bildkompendium wiener Aktionismus und film, edited by Peter Weibel, Kohlkunstverlag (Frankfort, Germany), 1970. Editor, edition 62, beginning 1962; contributing editor, Eröffnungen, 1964.

Contributor to periodicals, including Blätter, Edition 62, Eröffnungen, Manuskripte, Nervenkritik, Neue Texte, Neue Wege, Neues Bilderreiches Poetarium, Protokolle, Publikationen, Sondern, Texturen, Times Literary Supplement, Werkstatt Aspekt and Wort in der Zeit.

ADAPTATIONS: Bayer's Thorostein was adapted as a film directed by Ferry Radax titled Berg, Berg, 1972; Der Kopf des Vitus Bering was produced as a radio play by Norddeutscher Rundfunk/Sender Freies Berlin, 1964.

SIDELIGHTS: Konrad Bayer was a founding member of the literary coterie of Austrian writers known as the Wiener Gruppe established in Vienna in 1954. His two major works were Der Kopf des Vitus Bering and Der Sechste Sinn, an incomplete novel.

Der Kopf des Vitus Bering comprises a nonlinear presentation of images and thought fragments from the consciousness of Vitus Bering, the eighteenth-century Russian Arctic explorer. Through Bering and the metaphor of the Arctic landscape, Bayer reflected his own search for identity in the modern world. This theme is continued in Der Sechste Sinn, which again employs a nonlinear presentation and is drawn primarily from Bayer's Berlin diary of 1962. In Der Sechste Sinn—the title means "Sixth Sense"—Bayer speaks through the character of Franz Goldenberg, who, according to Joseph G. McVeigh in the Dictionary of Literary Biography, attempts "to arrive at a self-identity not determined by social conventions or sensual experience." A Times Literary Supplement critic praised Der Sechste Sinn, noting the wit and "absurdities" produced through the juxtaposition of random elements, and called the work "one of the greatest achievements in modern prose montage."

Bayer wrote short "experimental" pieces, several of which were published after his death in 1964. He used no capitalization in his works, a Wiener Gruppe trademark. During his lifetime, he shared many of his works with other writers in the group, and Vienna theaters staged some of his short dramatic texts in the early 1960s. Kasperl am Elektrischen Stuhl and Die Boxer were staged after his death. According to a commentator in the Times Literary Supplement, Bayer's work provided "one of the models for the new generation of Austrian writers" working in the 1960s.



Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 85: AustrianFiction Writers after 1914, Gale (Detroit, MI), 1989, pp. 55-61.


New Statesman, September 19, 1986, p. 30.

Times Literary Supplement, December 11, 1969, "Modern Montage," p. 1417; October 20, 1978, p. 1209.

World Literature Today, autumn, 1986, p. 627.*