Jelinek is certainly fluent: she once compared writing to projectile vomiting, which warns readers to dodge the ejecta when opening one of her books. The Nobel award noted her “musical flow of voices and counter-voices”. Yes, the characters in Rein Gold do make deft contrapuntal patterns with ideas, and their twin streams of consciousness gush, eddy and sometimes drool or drivel like the river in the Ring – but they lack the lyricism that humanises Wagner’s war-whooping Brünnhilde and renders the stricken Wotan tragic. Self-exiled from opera, B and W are woefully unable to sing.
In book form, translated with verve by Gitta Honegger, it becomes a series of monologues without paragraph breaks: a frequently discordant assault on the senses. ... The humour is wry and playful, until it isn’t. Jelinek’s list of sources is diligent up to a point: “Some Sigmund Freud, but I don’t remember what.” Rein Gold does, however, present issues in terms of concentrated reading. Ultimately it is a libretto that needs staging and music — or even a page break — to bring it fully alive.