The ring

Slanging match: rein GOLD, by Elfriede Jelinek, reviewed

I’ve tried hard to think of someone I dislike enough to recommend this novel* to, but have failed. Elfriede Jelinek is Austria’s leading contemporary literary figure, and to open rein GOLD at random is to get the impression that she is the successor to Thomas Bernhard — page after page without a single paragraph indentation, a general ranting tone, maddening repetitiveness, and cult status. Just in case Jelinek’s is an unfamiliar name: she is an extremely neurotic person, a sufferer from many phobias — unable to travel to collect her Nobel Prize; a copious writer, many of her books having been translated into English among other languages; and, most significantly,

Hitler’s admiration has severely damaged Wagner’s reputation

In the early 1920s a French businessman, Leon Bel, was looking for a name for his new brand of processed cheese. He remembered seeing a meat wagon on the first world war battlefields with the sardonic name ‘La Wachkyrie’. Like the Valkyries in Wagner, it brought solace to fallen soldiers in the field. Bel thought it would do very well, and gave his cheese the same name in a more orthodox spelling. La Vache Qui Rit (the Laughing Cow) is still very popular today. Reading this completely unsuspected story of a trademark in Alex Ross’s book, I wondered with some astonishment at this world. A businessman looking for a striking