Rein Gold

Elfriede Jelinek

Translated by Gitta Honegger

French paperback with flaps, 200 pages
Published 13 January 2021

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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.

‘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

‘[O]n the page, the language crackles, playing, again, with her familiar themes of, as she has termed them, “cruelty, the lack of consideration of the strong for the weak, and the master-servant relationship, in the Hegelian sense.”’ 
Rhian Sasseen, The Point

rein GOLD is a forbidding, virtuosic reimagining of Wagner’s quartet of music dramas…. Like many of Jelinek’s writings, it is a kind of concatenation, building complex chains of association across topics, symbols, and histories…. rein GOLD is a crafty response to Wagner’s literary and dramatic technique. Jelinek (and Honegger) cleave carefully to the alliteration that characterizes Wagner’s verse. In the “Ring,” it gives clusters of thought an internal cohesion and a brooding, ruminative character. In Jelinek’s rein GOLD energetic bursts of alliterative play create concentrations of images and ideas inside monumental and unyielding paragraphing. In this respect it is truly Wagnerian: motivic micro-invention and transformation carried inside a vast textural and dramatic sweep.’
— Benjamin Poore, Van Magazine

‘Jelinek’s prose and arguments are undoubtedly masterful; she is, despite the never-ending controversy around her boundary-breaking work, rightfully regarded as one of the greatest living authors writing in German. Honegger’s translation is vivid and equally as skilled.… rein GOLD is not a comfortable read, but really, given the subject matter, should it be? Wagner is not especially comfortable to sit through either, but you don’t go to see his Ring Cycle for a light, airy performance. You go to see and hear a work of genius. Important literature is rarely easily digestible.’
Ella Fox Martens, Soft Punk

‘Another interesting release from the excellent Fitzcarraldo Editions, rein GOLD is a playful and digressive dissection of capitalism.’
Joshua Rees, Buzz Magazine

‘[T]he characters in rein GOLD do make deft contrapuntal patterns with ideas, and their twin streams of consciousness gush, eddy and sometimes drool or drivel.’
Peter Conrad, Observer

‘In rein GOLD, Jelinek reimagines the characters of Brünnhilde and Wotan from Wagner’s Ring cycle and transposes them into the context of modernity. She delivers an impassioned exposé of the discontents of capitalism. Her musical thought is interwoven with myth, politics, and Wagnerian motifs. Gitta Honegger’s excellent translation allows us to experience the intense flow of her characters’ streams of consciousness entangled in greed and alienation.’
— Xiaolu Guo, author of A Lover’s Discourse

rein GOLD is a masterful, obsessional, hypnotic journey. Jelinek brings a sharp modernity and relevance to a series of inward wanderings. She is equal to a great myth and makes it new.’
— A. L. Kennedy, author of The Little Snake

‘Living legend Elfriede Jelinek’s rein GOLD, rhapsodically written from the maw of forlorn gods, echoes like an incensed dialogue-eulogy designed to fill the space soon left behind the eventual implosion of the twenty-first century’s bottomless appetite for capital, for absent love. “For what?” rein GOLD’s Brünnhilde asks and asks, trying out answers like mad masks, in search of something lost out here among us that even the gods cannot quite name, yet found as if alive here for all to feel – as in the masterworks of Bernhard’s Correction and Lispector’s The Passion According to G.H. – by the inimitable, majestically incensed end-visions of master Jelinek.’
— Blake Butler, author of Alice Knott

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.