Internet connects Nobel laureate to readers

Recluse Jelinek said publishing online is democratic method

Posted: Friday, June 22, 2007

VIENNA, Austria - By some measures, Elfriede Jelinek's world is small. The reclusive Nobel literature laureate cloisters herself inside her homes in Vienna and Munich, Germany, and rarely ventures out in public.

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But online, the Austrian writer - who suffers from what she has described as a "social phobia" - connects with ease to people around the world. Little wonder, then, that she chose to debut her latest novel on the Web rather than in bookstores.

"I find the Internet to be the most wonderful thing there is," Jelinek said in an e-mail interview with The Associated Press. "It connects people. Everyone can have input."

Jelinek, 60, has been posting chapters of the new book, "Neid" (German for "Envy"), as she writes them. The first two chapters of the work she describes as a "mixture of blog and prose" are already available on her site,, and there are more to come.

"It's a wonderfully democratic method, publishing a text on the Internet," Jelinek told the AP.

Although the German-language work will never appear in traditional book form and is primarily meant to be read on the screen, "anyone who wants to can download it or print it out," she said.

Jelinek's affinity for cyberspace makes sense.

In 2004, after she won the Nobel, she acknowledged she couldn't bring herself to travel to Stockholm, Sweden, to pick up her prize and the $1.3 million check. She even asked Austria's post office to shelve plans to honor her, saying she was uncomfortable with the idea of her likeness on a stamp.

The provocative and antiestablishment Jelinek - best known for 1983s "The Piano Teacher," which was adapted into an award-winning film in 2001, starring Isabelle Huppert - blames her reclusive lifestyle in part on life's disappointments and says contempt of her work has taken its toll.

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