) is a novel by Austrian Nobel Prize winner Elfriede Jelinek, first published in 1983 by Rowohlt Verlag.Translated by Joachim Neugroschel, it was the first of Jelinek's novels to be translated into English.
The novel follows Erika Kohut, a piano teacher in her late thirties who teaches at the Vienna Conservatory and still lives in an apartment with her very controlling mother, with whom Erika shares her parents' marriage bed.
The very strained relationship between Erika and her mother is made clear in the opening scene, in which Erika rips out some of her mother's hair when her mother attempts to take away a new dress that Erika has purchased for herself.
Erika's mother wishes the money to be used toward a new, future apartment with her, and resents Erika's spending of her money on possessions distinctly for herself; her mother cannot wear Erika's clothing.
Erika herself does not wear it, but merely strokes it admiringly at night.
Erika expresses this latent violence as well and need for control in many other scenes throughout the book.
Erika takes large instruments on trains so that she can hit people with them and call it an accident, or kicks or steps on the feet of other passengers so that she can watch them blame someone else.
She is a voyeur who frequents peep shows, and on one occasion catches a couple having sex in a park, being so affected that she urinates.
Childhood memories are retold throughout the novel and their effects on the present suggested—for instance, the memory of a childhood visit from her cousin, an attractive and athletic young man, whom Erika's mother praised while she makes her daughter practice piano, results in Erika's self-mutilation.
Walter Klemmer, an engineering student, is introduced very early on. He eventually becomes Erika's student and develops a desire for his instructor.