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Sunday, April 21, 2013




of V =

Dear David Shields,

 a while back I had planned to do a critique of your REALITY HUNGER... an intention re-elicited by your recent claims as to have sacrificed your life for art! Whatever validity of that claim aside its noticeability, I instead take a positive illustrative approach “on what in READING is REAL and how a writer might make writing realer for the reader.” – The world of reading, after all, anyhow of novels, is a world unto itself, and if it affects the world outside the world of reading, as it can, does so indirectly in unpredictable ways.

For direct affect other ways of writing would seem more effective, vide THE COM-MUNIST MANIFESTO.

You may recall that we fell into a conversation these years ago on your saying what a great metaphor Handke’s GOALIE’S ANXIETY AT THE PENALTY KICK is. At the time I failed to point out that at the end of the book - Bloch back in goal - all anxiety has ceased! That objective to overcome, to  still anxiety was, became I suppose a discovery of Handke’s during his adolescent piano-like practicing of writing – “I am so excited yet everything I write then is so calm.” - and, once achieved, became addictive, and became one of the driving sources of the well-honed genius’s art, a genius whose every sense is at least ten times more sensitive than that of the ordinary hunting dog. And one, one of his many sources of confidence. - In his 1971 – 1976 diary WEIGHT OF THE WORLD Handke notes his 4 year old daughter saying “daddy, you’re writing again.”
    I will not go into the reason why Handke as of a very young age was so anxious as to feel he could proclaim, at the time of his first major public appearance, at the Gruppe 47 meeting in Princeton, in May 1966, that he was “the new Kafka” – on top of the Empire State Building, to German T.V., and to my friend Ted  Theodore J. Ziolkowski, a Hesse specialist teaching at the university; but it certainly was the case, and for the best of traumatic reasons. Meanwhile – 20 plays half a dozen screenplays and several dozen prose volumes later we think of our self as Goethe redivivus, and much as I hate to admit it, there is something to that too. It’s not a case of mad vanity! And there is more, see anon.
To write Goalie Handke first studied the linguistic components of what is called paranoid schizophrenia – and if you really read the first page or so of that book, its grammatical sleight of hand will put you into the state of mind in which Bloch becomes so thoroughly discombobulated, and then a murderer at another moment of confusions – bubbles of water on the hotplates like scurrying ants is the image. [1] It is a form of   disassociation – however, things can happen in such states, unlettered impulses break through.  The book then proceeds, also using phenomenological narrative procedures.

Goalie was preceded by an even more ambitious attempt for consciousness to deal with a far more generalized form of anxiety, DER HAUSIER / The Panhandler (which exists in the Romance languages in the event that you don’t have German, and which gets pretty close to the original bloody and brutal source of terror); lots of Handke of that period - Radio Play I and many of the poems in Innerworld - perform the same stilling of anxiety, of creating a still point. (Did Handke want to be “the surrogate” in the sense that Freud felt some artists did? Well, he certainly was in the first series of plays he wrote.) - I analyzed one of the poems that achieved a stilling of anxiety, at considerable length.

Handke finds a phenomenological equivalent of an interior state and then linguistically alters it and, and, as a consequence, the reader’s consciousness is altered” – is the kind of Aristotelian plainness with which one could describe Handke’s endeavors - from comparatively simple beginnings to powerfully sustained – the 100 pages of the end of his CROSSING THE SIERRA DEL GREDOS, a climb and descent the likes of which has never before made for what many regards as the greatest ending of any novel ever.

But as you then told me, repeatedly, you are not interested in Handke any more. Yet you write a big grab bag Reality Hunger!

Subsequent to Goalie Handke went on to provide a wealth of technical innovations that modernize the great – in the widest sense of the terms - realistic tradition, some of which I will address here – but as you wrote me several times, you “are not interested in Handke” ….
Yet you profess “Reality Hunger”! Are you aware that you have actually disqualified yourself?

I agree with your lack of interest in the instance of some of other writers whose name cropped up, although I always allow that I may not have read enough of their work, and other reasons.  


I wrote the pre-amble to indicate the linguistic and grammatical level which Handke was able to access and use as a writer as of an early age, the play Kaspar is yet another example of his understanding of language, equal to Noam Chomsky’s at that time. I also wrote the preceding to indicate my then surprise at your expressed lack of interest in the rake’s progress. With the 10 k text of The Hour We Knew of Each Other – one of the great texts of German 20th century literature, comparable to Heiner Mueller’s Quartett – Handke then comprises all his plays from the 1965 Prophecy to the 1971 The Ride Across Lake Constance, say as Bach’s The Art of the Fugue comprises, and on a higher level. When you read the text it is as though your syntax had been taken by its braid (am Schopf!) and is not let go until you have been scalped!; its performance has a cathartic, a cleansing effect on the audience. It is such a piece of   virtuosity that everybody else can basically go home. But you are not interested and editors in the U.S. now assign swine such as J. L.Marcus, Michael McDonald, Neil Gordon, David Siegal as reviewers of his work – initially there were some interesting intelligent noises made by the liked of Richard Gilman, Michael Wood.  These have become rare, . Things HAVE gotten worse.
I myself don’t much care for Handke personally, he can be humorless as only a German can be humorless, and at least at one time gratuitously  injured those closest to him, a pasha! I appreciate the “wound he writes out of”, the joy he takes in writing so well conveys itself, at least to me. The only way I can maintain credibility is   to be critical also of the work when it is problematic. For example, much that I find extraordinary in the forthcoming Spring 1914 Moravian Night, that fellow Handke translator Scott Abbott and I will discuss on line yet my first take on it was quite critical of several aspects. [See links in the Notes] In other instances –  too numerous to mention! I am left beyond quibbling… which is saying something for one the caption on whose yearbook photo read “born to be critical!”

 Mine of course must seem like one of the more unusual forms of obsession. It is not really. I have always taken an exhaustive approach to individual authors, going back to the days of Karl May. Handke just happens to be the most interesting all around, and I have had the time in the past nearly 30 years to focus on his many aspects.

Here, however, I merely – merely! - want to point out some of the  linguistic achievements of his, of a technical nature in the field of prose that enhance readers’ sense of reality of what is evoked in their minds - I am not the only one to experience his texts – Handke creates experiences par excellence, Happenings, and not only in the theater, not only there do some of his work have a cathartic, that is cleansing effect – but, using GOALIE for an example I wanted to point out how deeply in language and in its grammatical functioning Handke is engaged at that point and possibly just mentioning as much indicates that good old American naturalism will not do the trick, and perhaps a lot of people ought not to even claim that they are writing novels, and what I will try to show is how that being so deeply inside the world of  language afforded Handke certain unusual opportunities in narrative prose.  


I ventured a while back to do a psychoanalysis of reading, in two parts


and this attempt here represent a more practical, less theoretical approach to the same subject and of course I use the work of my subject of interest to illustrate my case. - But let me step back even further. 

I myself started to read on the same magic pad that Freud refers to in his famous piece on the extraordinary event he had on the Acropolis (part I of the above provides that account) and have made it part of my self-analytic memoir novel SCREEN MEMORIES,  IDYLLIC -?- YEARS.  The chief continuing feature of the current material manifestation on which what I am writing is being composed is the on-going sheer “magic” of, initially, letters, and then words for objects arising as it were “ex nihilo”, a matter that has made me comfortable, nay has proved attractive now that we have computer screens where words appear… perhaps not quite that ex nihilo. But leave it for the magic to disappear with over-usage.

At any event, the first thing that can be said to be real is the paper or the screen on which symbols can appear; the ink, pencil marks or their electronic equivalent, too, are indisputably so. As are the eyes – unless gone dead - needed to take in the symbols however they manifest themselves, in the form of ideograms, in cunei-form or in various kinds of lettering – sound eyes, not too many cataracts, squints etc. And of course there needs to be something that we call a mind and the mind needs to be taught to be able to decipher, which as we eventually realize means that our interpretations may just be ours and no one else’s; that is, that to a lesser or greater degree what we read, what is evoked in us, is a projection. Communal responses thus are reassuring, we may be mad in what we read but at least we are not alone.

A few examples.
There is MICHI in Kroetz’s Michi’s Blood spelling out what she reads, one slow word after the other “X  w r o t e   m e  t h i s   l e t t e r.” – The momentousness of someone contacting the retarded girl in the solitude of her being!

There is the fairly rapid inuration to the kind of language you find in the great majority of newspapers – receptacles for dead and deadening prose - which then allows for, nearly demands speed reading, skimming. - You cannot speed read Handke since every sentence of his is an event, every sentence starts to breathe, say, as of The Repetition (1986), a book I regard on the level of Stendahl’s two great novels. Real writers have a breath – now and then it goes dead, sometimes just for a few pages, but a real reader notices.

The Repetition is a transformative book, it makes the reader into the kind of “King of Slowness” that Handke became during its writing. It is infused with his self, there is a self to infuse. Handke is 44 years old, our genius has an impressive past, and an even more impressive future.

– Just the other day I happened on a review by one of the few regular reviewers whose work I respect, James Wood writing about Rachel Kushner in the New Yorker, a pretty writer, Americans like writers who write prettily unthreateningly
and it struck me that he was, for a change, flailing away in trying to show that he liked her work – he too used the word “real” and “reality” frequently, as in mixing the “real” with the “invented” – which implies that he knows the difference – but how? Only via newspapers. Once the newspaper memories die there remains the fabulous, and several great instances among novels of the past 50 + years are Günter Grass’s The Tin Drum – the first half – and Gabriel Marquez One Hundred Years of Solitude – and the manner in which they are fabulous does not depend on referentiality to that kind of newspaper real, but, especially Grass’s Tin Drum and his novella Cat & Mouse on the kind of transformation that transpires in the story teller as Walter Benjamin describes in his essay on the Russian fairy tale writer Leskov – “Whiling away time is the dreambird that hatches the egg of experience." Handke achieves the fabulous in a different manner… The concept for an experience appears to come alive in him, it is gradually birthed, left behind of the experience is what Benjamin calls “the death mask.” Another way of putting it is to say that something – an imaginary, a project appears as an “As If” … and is then realized. Thus, Handke’s calling some of his long narrative fables, and forward-date, by a few decades, creating a rather simple-minded plus-cum-perfect, seems to me to indicate that his trust in his one beautiful sentence after a breathing sentence – his aesthetic manner of proceeding - is shaky! Yet, since some of Handke’s prose works, especially the longer ones – which have not gone through the transformative imagination -  so autobiographically based  - overlaps with historical reportage it is not possible to make sharp demarcations between genres – you notice the point I am granting you!
Of course there exists the possibility that Handke is unaware of the deeply mind-altering effect, or of some, of his work the reasons for which, many of them technical, I will elaborate below

There is the kind of reading that you do as a literary scholar, many times the same text, there is the kind of reading I started to do during the non-literary the psychoanalytic approach to Handke, a detective’s twelve beagles on the watch for his thirteen telltale foxes – not such a hard job in the case of an exhibitionist, and so much information that you might think you might not be missing anything. There is the kind of Talmudic reading you might do if you have had thorough exposure to Gadamer’s Truth and Method – interpret interpret interpret. There is the kind of reading you do as a translator that gives you the idea that maybe you ought not to make any kind of judgment about texts or  writers until you had translated a good hunk of their work. But first off comes reading as experience if the work provides an experience.

However, what you, David Shields appear to have in mind is how REAL, the REALITY that the symbols create once they have entered our minds impresses itself; fatigue with certain kinds of procedures. I don’t know, maybe you ought to move to Austria for a while, Handke is not their only star, or read some of the other wonders that Ariadne Press has made available in translation, for your screed strikes me as horrendously, typically Norte Americano insular.

And it is there, on that level, the how of the way you read that the changes that Handke has introduced into the classical style effect/ affect the degree of the real. And not, say, in the amusing manner in which Tom Wolfe managed to mimic the experience of an acid trip, all those wonderful American superficial comic book tricks!


Frank Conroy

Let me address another writer and one of his books that we discussed,     a writer whose artistry is less demanding, but perhaps more pertinent to your concerns, Frank Conroy’s Stop-Time.

I met Frank at the first day at Haverford, Freshman year 1954, and   the first thing he told me was that he was going to be a writer. During his four years he wrote a number of stories that were published in the Haverford-Bryn Mawr Review and during his Junior Year visiting writer Elizabeth Bowen made sure he became the recipient of one of the then famous $ 100 Knopf advances that tied the possible future major leaguer to that house. 
   In 1962 or thereabouts Frank completed a novel, about a religious, of which even I, still his closest friend, would not run a single chapter in a literary magazine I had at the time. A few years later, around the time of the birth of his first son, Frank started to write Stop-Time, and I saw chapter after chapter as it was being written, and helped a few of them to get published. Even before publication, advance praise was starting to go to Frank’s head, and it would be 18 years before he published Midair, which not only contained several pieces quite self-critical of his life-style subsequent to the publication of Stop-Time, but also a number of extremely well-crafted and forally ambitious longer stories, the title story among them, that showed that Frank had now become a real writer – not just what is now called “memoirist” - where, in Stop-Time, since he had such talent, also as a musician, he accessed the flow of memory, as truthfully as he could best as I was aware. Slowly, one slow sentence after the other, by pencil. Truthful condensations of that kind demand not just a conscience but the luck of grasp and succinctness – after all, he was not taking the Proustian route where each and every little detail becomes enshrined; Conroy manifests the resolve of editing. The self-critical pieces in Mid-Air - as compared to the longer deliberately composed ones, such as the one about the death of his mother - still strike me as rather rudimentary – and when I saw Frank last, in 1986 in Washington, D.C., I found his memory of the period 1966 to 1971, when he moved to Nantucket, to be quite deficient. Whereas recollections of growing up and childhood were not edited with self-image in mind, that factor, however, seemed to play a role for the later period. – Handke, who is not an especially psychological-minded writer either in his Yoknapawtawka exhibit of his self for the sake of teaching the world the ways of the word, in his 2007 Moravian Night finally allows – there are other indirect funny descriptions of what a little monster was as a child and adolescent - a lover to mention that he is a “mama’s boy” – both Handke and Conroy and many good writers like them are their mother’s favored sons. Philip Roth! Their mothers infused them with love, they infuse the act of writing, the word with it.
    At about the time that Conroy became head of the Iowa writer’s workshop, he began what was meant to be a big fat major novel, Body and Soul, another musical title, which, however, the first four fifth, although superficially autobiographical, but oh so superficial - turned out to be a pile of dead dog bones if ever there was! As they saying went “a dog of a book” and the piles of green books went back to the publisher. Body and Soul was not written slow sentence by sentence, it is written to be big and fat and make an impression, as wobbly as the tub of jelly as Frank himself looked at the time, drenched, bulked up with lousy dialogue, except for its last fifth… there he starts to boogie and it becomes one of the more amazing piece of writing, especially so unexpectedly because of the preceding dogginess…  that final fifth testifying to our mutual friend Wilfred Sheed’s once comment that Frank loved himself more than anyone else. Yet it’s wonderful to see it express itself like that, the way he was at the piano.
   Frank’s last book, Of Time and Tide, about Nantucket, I think is his best and is so for the manner in which he completed the island – he went there first during our sophomore year, and then he and his wife built a house, into which he moved after his she had kicked him out in New York when success had ruined his life for a while; he had come to know the island as well as his self – and it is the one instance where there is interesting overlap with the Handke who roots his Assayings, as I call his VersucheOn Tiredness, the Jukebox, The Day that Went Well, and in 2012 On the Quiet Place –  but also other longer books and novellas, in a particular place that then becomes part of his self and the telling. My Year in the Noman’s Bay and the forest of Chaville on the outskirts of Paris.
   In nuce, talent, a self, time, the manner in which conscience handles language, these are matters that, best as I can tell, are the most important. 

And Notes

Before enumerating these innovations and what they do to a reader let me give a brief account of my Handke reading experiences.

1-there was the experiencing his first nearly dozen plays and Innerworld-
A lot of fun, and I realized quickly that the bastard child was a true genius.  

2-I didn’t really understand while translating Goalie how the book arose out of language. Only subsequently… I imagine it would have been a better translation if I had.

3-My stupendous experience with the first chapter of A Slow Homecoming I expect is unique to someone who has spent nigh a year in the interior of Alaska, who has dozens of great anecdotes which he recounts, but who is haunted by having been unable to articulate the inarticulatability of the experience as a whole… it was just too immense the immensity of it. Thus the Handke seismograph’s sensitivity to the landscape forms…

4-I have cited my experience with The Repetition – absent that experience I doubt I would have set out on this 25 year plus trek – I have friends and acquaintances who have become disgusting groupies because of that book and then written extraordinary books about their experience.

5-Probably the most major of these experiences was translating Handke’s richest work, the dramatic poem, Walk About the Villages at about the stage of a complete regression, all defenses down, during a pycho-analysis. The abov4e link has part of that experience as does my postscript to its Ariadne Books edition. – The experience can probably not be duplicated – at any event, I would not recommend it, no one in the world nothing but a text with the shrink off on an extended X-mas vacation, and shouting out th great text over and over. I got a hint of a few things at that time, and the text came out very cutting for voice. That is audible, at least it was to the original author.

Currently there is the ongoing experience of reading a 70 year old author writing some of his best work and exuding the joy of writing at such a level.  


The various effects that Handke’s works, both in prose and drama have is kinesthetic. The Repetition alters the reader’s sense of time; Absence for being experienced as a film constitutes for my money the most profound alteration that Handke has introduced into the reading experience – this method is used more subtly in Crossing the Sierra del Gredos where the heroine, a former actress and bankieress, rich in experience, notices that as she records what she experiences as though she were acting in a film, a species of self-consciousness that then alters the reader’s consciousness by making them more attentive, precise in their noticing. In One Dark Night I left my Silent House the protagonist for a stretch narrates what is occurring in dream syntax, a matter that I noticed Handke doing first in a sequence in The Afternoon of a Writer where the writer transposes his woundedness after running the gauntlet of Salzburg gossip (entirely justified if I know my rake!) by seeing himself as a hit and run victim, a woman, tossed into the bushes in the ditch – an instance where this procedure meshes with metaphoric expressiveness; Storm Still (2010) and for once quickly available in translation (Swallow Press, U. of Chicago distributor), is a drama that can be read as a novel or vice versa – the title derives from a line in The Tempest as is appropriate for a writer, especially as a playwright, who is at least a quarter cut of the trunk of William Shakespeare – and whose origins in a village cottage – Keuschnig means Cottage - might change Freud’s opinion that Shakespeare had to derive from the educated classes. Lots of factors had to come into play to produce a productive genius like the Count von und zu Griffen! And not all of them can be regarded as admirable. As a writer he is of a different order and kind and one of these days a larger group, at least of writers, in this country or at least a few more of them than now will catch on and learn from him. In two of his other novels, both of which are being translated, Moravian Night (2007) and The Great Fall (2011) the variety of techniques and language knowledge that I tried to outline come together to… to manifest one of the… great Romanciers! And all it takes to disprove everything you say in Reality Hunger is a single one of those horn-billed woodpeckers!

For the overarching website with its Discussion, Watch, Trivia, Revista-of-Reviews, Yugoslavia, Scholar and Drama blogs
Handke’s drama see

The catastrophic reception see
It ought to go without saying that books of prose of the length of My Year in the No-Man’s Bay and Crossing the Sierra del Gredos or Moravian Night – will afford opportunity for criticism – but it never it has never come to that kind of considered criticism in this country.

The forth-coming Spring 2014 Moravian Night online discussion

1)    About 20 year ago I tried to see if I could duplicate Handke’s grammatical sleight of hand, it took about a week. I thought of a time that I had been especially dissociated – jetlag, disorientation, the counting mechanism off, alienated and anxious. Torrejon Air Force Base April 1968, my mother was dying of cancer, the nurses’ husbands were practicing bombing runs over the mesas, the assassination of Martin Luther King, I noticed the headlines on the Stars & Stripes as this early bird stood behind a black seargent in the chow line. “Everything will burn” flashed through my mind. The endless death of liver cancer. - I managed the attempt, but have not completed the novella yet.

2)    It occurred to me that David Shields may have other  peculiar senses of unreality in mind. I recall that in 1955 the fine Kantian Professor Foss who taught the philosophy class – father of Lukas and Olivier -came to the philosopher Vaihinger and the “Philosophy of the As If” – and how shocked he was when the class, to a man, seemed to have found a philosophy that described their state of mind! The falseness of the 50s was beginning to break apart at as idyllic a spot as Haverford College. Now we have the falseness of near absolute continuity between the regime of GB Bush and Obama’s 9 out of ten broken promises, a continuing economic debacle, a new one just about every week, the Potemkin Village that is the US of A.

Sunday, December 30, 2012


Dear All, todos Santos!
I wanted to take the opportunity to comment on your December  2012 conclave
at the Deutsches Haus and provide a bit of background that may help 
 in your further Handke work. 

Friday, December 7th, 6:30 p.m.
Please join us for a discussion with Fatima Naqvi (Rutgers University), Christoph Bartmann (Goethe Institut NYC), Klaus Kastberger (University of Vienna), Heike Polster (University of Memphis), Krishna Winston (Wesleyan University), and Thorsten Carstensen (The Indiana University School of Liberal Arts).

Peter Handke in America is an important theme for understanding the writer’s work. Because of his life-long fascination with America, Handke was among the first German-speaking writers of his generation to present a positive image of the United States against the anti-imperialist aversions of the European 1968-movement. Particularly in his early work, scholars have traced his fascination with writers such as John Ford, Walker Percy (whom he also translated), as well as the blues, New York City, the image of the “Native American” and with the beauty of the American landscape. His 1971 novel Short Letter, Long Farewell makes his fascination with the United States the central motif. Handke also lived in New York (after lengthy travels through Alaska), where in 1979 he wrote his important novel The Long Way Round. In his film Three American LPs, he co-produced with Wim Wenders, many of these themes can also be clearly identified.
First, a comment on the above notice for your conversation.

I think it serves no good purpose to put 1968 European Anti-Imperialist sentiments into a contra-distinction to interest in other aspects of American culture - and to do so is what is called creating "false opposites" - of kind and order; that is, the creation of a thoroughly meretricious Piñata, and I  was glad to note that not too much was made of it. QUODLIBET incidentally references the My Lay atrocity in its                   Joycean series of nasty puns of that kind. What might be more interesting is a compare of Handke's large body of work growing out of his self with Faulkner's http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yoknapatawpha_County .

For Faulkner needs to be added to the list of writers who were important to the so exceedingly well read Handke from very early on. After Princeton in 1966 Handke went to Oxford to get a feel of the place, pay homage I suppose at Faulkner's house. Ford the film maker interested Handke, and the very title SHORT LETTER LONG FAREWELL references the author of FAREWELL MY LOVELY and Handke and his Graz contemporaries interest in the Black Mask writers, in Handke's case as both a breeding ground and then as container for the examination and control of fear. DER HAUSIERER, GOALIE, Radio Play One, etc. After all, Handke's first self-representation was of "I am the new Kafka", in Princeton 1966. We all recall Kafka saying after his first book, "One day I will be known as the Old Kafka" - young Handke was full of jumping beans. I happened to be at Princeton in 1966 and witnessed what turns out to have been a rehearsed attack, I recall feeling that Handke, who was entirely unknown to me even though I had been the Suhrkamp scout in the US who had just got his first job for German literature in at Farrar Straus... that Handke sounded like a broken record - now we find out that FC Delius witnessed his                   rehearsing his little generalized attack, appropriate to a lot of writers who were not at Princeton. He himself read from DER HAUSIERER, not a good text for reading out loud. Ted Ziolkowsky a Princeton professor who became a friend over the Hesse I brought to F.S. + G. also heard Handke make the claim to be the "new Kafka." Subsequent to Princeton, Pannah Grady, Jakov Lind and I gave a party at Pannah'ssplendid Dakota apartment for the Gruppe 47 and I had an interesting encounter with Handke as he was being propositioned by Alan Ginsberg, and I noticed that I was dealing with a village sadist and, as the genius would write, "the smell sticks." I believe I wrote this scene up at some length in my DEM HANDKE AUF DIE SCHLICHE. 

For the US discussion of MORAVIAN NIGHT that fellow Handke translator Scott Abbott and I will be conducting, only in 2014 now it turns out, I just wrote up a short piece that accounts for my relationship to Handke's texts. 

By the time Handke would undertake the trip that would lead to  SHORT LETTER I had let Siegfried Unseld prevail on me to become the US Suhrkamp agent; and this job entailed hosting the threesome of SHORT LETTER who were on an Austrian sponsored 21 dates in 28 days tour of US campuses - the book, too, retains the speediness and travelogue quality. By that time I had already translated all the early plays from                   PUBLIKUMSBESCHIMPFUNG to RIDE ACROSS LAKE CONSTANCE and GOALIE'S ANXIETY AT THE PENALTY KICK, and finally managed to get an official premiere of some of these plays, at BAM, which co-incided with Handke's visit. I was glad to only continue to translate the plays and poetry, my strength, quite aside the question of time.

As to Handke's liking for the llano non-estacado  of John Ford, those famous wide open spaces, I would attribute  Handke's need not to be fenced in to a psychosomatic heart condition, and a general neo-liberal yuppiedom and grandiosity e/g HERR-MAN QUITT, thus the once buergerschreck who needs absolute quiet - for reasons of having ten times the nerves of every kind than the so-called normal person - to Ehrenbuerger, king of the hill,  childhood tyrant, "Mutter Soehnchen" to tyrant of syntax is not all that surprising as a curve of ascendency. This however makes for a fun collage

What ctd. utterly astonishing is the development of someone who was so deeply embedded in the world of words to the extraordinary sleight of hand artistry of introducing the dreamscreen, dream writing, dream syntax writing into prose - the sort of thing none of you brought up but that interests me for Handke's use for future novelists on that high order.

- I recall giving Handke as he was going back to Austria, and he had lost his coat, something greatcoatish with a Napoleonic cut I had picked up in Paris , and helping him into the contraption, and everyone - Kolleritsch, Libgart and Handke himself, much amused at this. So I must have sensed his ultimate ambition early on. A bit like my grandfather making fun of Hitler! And we are all fortunate that Handke is only the Napoleon of Syntax! And had a lovely horticulturalist uncle  studying in Llubliana! In the mid-seventies he asked me to show him around the Long Island suburbs, just as I entered a ten year stint of living a very bohemian life in Tribeca, but Handke's need for quiet, with its inception in Kronberg, certainly was not meant as a special yen for the unpleasant aspects of suburbia, those are mere incidental. The Meudon-Clamart of LEFT HANDED WOMAN                   was scarcely a suburb, but a way station. 

Handke's behavior during his trip, however, would not have let you assume that he was a genius unless you, as his translator, or close reader, might have reached that conclusion in that fashion. Handke toured the country telling everyone what idiots they were. Donald Daviau who hosted the annual Austrian shindig at U.C. Riverside took offense. - That Handke's neglected and insulted wife would leave him at the first opportunity was  apparent. KASPAR as great as an objective play as it is, is also in some ways a self-projection, except that you sure as hell don't anticipate that, or for KASPAR to be so utterly arrogant! I also noticed a then puzzling event of the kind he describes in DER VERSUCH UEBER DEN STILLEN ORT as Handke peeled away from a conversation with me and two American critics who were early fans of his whom I had invited to a small party for him and squatted down by, I nearly said my Juke Box, record player and put on I think a Beatles record. As soon as the guests left he was his obnoxious self again.

Thus SHORT LETTER - FAREWELL LOVER instead of FAREWELL MY LOVERLY - aside being a kind of Godard film, also is propelled by the same kind of fear of women that also marks MORAVIAN NIGHTS, although not as extensively. MORAVIAN references SHORT LETTER.  

That the media generated images with which Handke arrived did not fit his experience is not an especially interesting theme to me. Fleeing the Moerderland as the age of 12, child of two 20th of July participants who survived their Gestapo                   imprisonment during the Siege of Berlin entirely fortuitously, I realized within a fairly short time that the Declaration of Independence had not been written exclusively for me, that American Indians were hard to find in American forests, and that every sexy American car did not come with an sexy American girl. 
The Gatsby theme evidently did persist, in no time Handke was staying in the Algonquin and in the best hotels ever after. I always loved the fact that frugal Uwe Johnson stayed in the next-door Iroquois. 

 Not that it takes me to point out the existence of Alaska or how different winters are there, but that is what I did when Handke asked me about American winters. And I was in a good position to do so, having worked 9 months out of Fairbanks, first as a fire fighter for two months  and then as an assistant geological surveyor, and also with Natives, who were great in the field, not so great when they got drunk in their villages and beat up their wives before their                   wives beat them up. And had I not seen village life first hand I probably would have accepted the rare December job offer - from the Daily News-Miner - to spend a week at a time, a bush pilot taking me from one such village to another, to report on its events. Thus the chain-wielding Indian in LANGSAME HEIMKEHR, like to much else in that book, is over-determined, and perhaps Handke even made the mistake of making a pass at a squaw and lived to write about it. And                   Mannheim's translation of that first sentence that drove Handke crazy because he'd been rehearsing it for years and could not get beyond it in the Hotel Adams - is a true abortion that lacks the rhythm and the pathos and everything. And Handke liking Mannheim so much as a translator then makes me fear that his own estimate of my work on WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES might be equally off the wall, although he was one of two people who realized that it became a translation "for voice" - "cutting -in the good sense." Scott a good ear too, is the other.

Ample images from Handke's ALASKA experience also entered WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES especially the sing-songs of the four workers.

1) Serbia
Now a bit more detail. It appears that you all decided not to talk about Handke and Yugoslavia, but you, Ms. 
Naqvi, then call Handke's take "naif". Well no, just very different but standard for him, all I can do here is point you to Fabjan Haffner's book and some of my  own attempts to puzzle  the matter out for myself. The US brain-washed and TV-image filled Human Rights Vultures take on the matter will not do. I recall, Ms. Winston some  years back not wanting to discuss her own typical take  - as always, they then don't want to talk after they read Roger Cohen's photo essay among                   the Benneton ads where the big bad wolf from Progarevic personally sets fire to every Bosniak house.
However, Handke's take and the way he dealt with the disintegration of his beloved
Slavic federation accounts for a good deal of the "catastrophic Handke reception" as of the early 90s also in the US. Again, I don't want to repeat what appears in the Handke magazine on that matter, in the form of a long open letter to Robert Silvers, and of a letter to the American scholar, etc. Susan Sontag - who had helped me put Handke over at Farrar, Straus - then saying "Handke is finished" after the publication of his JUSTICE FOR SERBIA set the tone for the intellectual pack. I imagine if Handke had gone about it the way Juergen Habermas - in philosophical political legal economic sociological terms - and not been so passionately engaged... however, that is the way the Mississippi of language discourses, from Habermas to the insidious David Brooks.

Another reasons for the drop-off in interest in Handke is his publisher Farrar Straus interrupting what had been the initial as instantaneous publication of his work in translation subsequent to LEFT HANDED WOMAN, by seven years, and then the mis-publication of A SLOW HOME COMING jointly with the memoir A CHILD'S STORY and the travelogue change in artistic programme THE LESSON OF ST. VICTOIRE. LHW had still been published in entirety in the New Yorker, as might the first two chapters of the fragmentary A SLOW HOME COMING. By                   1986 the world had changed, as had editors at the New Yorker, even though FSG had done very well with my two volume of Handke plays, they passed on WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES and subsequent plays and that interrupted the succession in that field. The New Yorker still did a condensation of a section from THE REPETITION a few year's later, but that was it. Subsequent to its own mis-publication of Handke, who realized the lack of interest in his work, Roger Straus then wrote his famous letter to Siegfried Unseld saying that he had a Handke problem, as compared to Unseld who realized he had a genius if an occasionally difficult one, Roger Straus turned out to be someone who would have been better off selling galoshes. A true culture vulture cherry picker says a once picked and screwed cherry. You wouldn't think as much with a firm sporting the likes of Wilson, Lowell, Malamud - but Robert Giroux was their editor. No end of Nobel Prizes would ennoble Roger Straus, and Robert Giroux could never write a                   history of the firm because it reminded him of Roger. What a close vested banker the editor of T.S. Eliot turned out to be. 
 Also, Handke must have had nearly a dozen different editors there after I left in 1970 - perfectly fine ones but for the unfortunate period of the mid-80s when Michael DiCapua was editor in chief, who ruined any number of projects of mine. Handke wrote me several times that he felt FSG was not really interested in his work at that time. I don't know what I could have done about it, but I did suggest to Knopf                   at one point that maybe they wanted to do Handke. And had plenty of trouble of my own kind as co-publisher of Urizen Books.
2) Krishna Winston knows better than to say that Ralph Mannheim translated nearly everything of Handke's prior to her doing the prose, which proves to me once again that she is both petty and not on top of the subject, as she actually nicely admits in the company of folk whom she calls Handke experts but evidently not to others. There are not only my dozen play translations including what Handke called the best translation he ever saw, of WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES, and two volumes of poetry and GOALIE, but there are also Scott Abbott's translations of JUSTICE FOR SERBIA and VOYAGE BY DUGOUT, as well as Mike Mitchell's of TILL THE DAY, GittaHonegger's of HOUR and THE ART OF ASKING, and I forgot whose of ONCE MORE FOR THUCYDIDES, for New Directions. Perhaps Ms. Winston had just a bad day, I hope the kind of errors she committed will not start to infest her wonderful Handke translations that indeed  find the rhythm and sound of the original in a new medium. But a 1993 novel such as MEIN JAHR IN DER NIEMANDSBUCHT was scarcely intended as a "millenial" , for the year 2000, although Handke himself may have been amused at writing a book that was stretched to the kind of 1000 page monstrum he himself once claimed he would never write since they tended to become cadaverous albatrosses such as Musil's MAN WITHOUT QUALITIES... and for which he wanted his publisher to charge the public 120 DM I think it still was at the time. Siegfried Unseld suggested DM 58. They compromised at 78 I think, and Handke, who turns out to be a really good capitalist bargainer got an advance of DM 300,000 - not bad for one year's work.

 Also, Ms Winston translated IN ONE DARK NIGHT I WALKED OUT OF MY QUIET HOUSE subsequent to NOMANSBAY!!!! since it is the book announced in NOMANSBAY and thus cannot have been written prior.  Ms. Winson  also seems entirely ignorant  of Handke's impact on the American theater which was extraordinary at the time, although it has abated, for reasons of Handke's theater coinciding with and being formalized happenings that complete some of Brecht's endeavors. See my lectures on the subject.
As to Handke writing a book a year or "so much" - 
NOMANSBAY has it that it's author
writing in nature, in a tree hollow too, whether that is part of the explanation for Handke's ctd. productivity?
Possibelamente. I can think of half a dozen further reasons. Handke has heart problems of a psychosomatic
kind, walking helps to keep the vistas wide and the brain cleaner. However, to be able to write up to a thousand words a day of marvelous prose is really
not that unusual, although few can do it. If you enjoy doing it as much as Handke and have some positive response to conveying that joy - perhaps willy nilly and via the commodius vicus ofrecirculation
we have re-entered Maria Sivec's realm of Kraft durch  Freude. Ms. Winston seems not to reflect on what she translates so well. But my chief quarrel derives from her advising FSG not to publish KALI - because this was not new Handke. It appears Ms. Winston does not appreciateHandke's pride in not repeating himself, but, as a formalist, to explore a formal problem to the limits - and then write a kind of summa, say THE HOUR WE KNEW NOTHING OF EACH OTHER being that of all the early musically formed                           plays. Or TRACES OF THE LOST as a variant of HOUR. Thus, translate Baby, otherwise keep you hands off, advice that fits quite a few                           translators.

3) Klaus Kastberger is quite right. Suddenly Handke can't buy himself an unfavorable review, the opposite of just a few years back.                           Even Hubert Spiegel has come around. On the udder hand, Weinzierl who runs the WeltFeuilliton is a heavily indebted Handke friend, Breitenstein's invariable positive reviews in the NZZ read canned. Things have got so bad that someone named Lothar Struck has assumed the online identity of one of Handke's major literary personae, GregorKeuschnig and no matter that Handke has said that "I am not the one" - as he is not except as a literary artist when he writes -
pays obeyance to Handke's naked feet as he is gardening in Chaville, to see if they smell of                           mushroom picking expeditions. Chaville itself is being turned into  Nachlass zur Lebenszeit Museum and friends bring visitors to traipse in an out. The preparations for immortality are well along the way, and I will sorrow deeply if I don't get my annual Handke fix. What would the past 25 years have been like without it. However, the traumas of Handke's childhood cannot be accounted for to his exposure to the Brummers in the sky over Berlin in the mid-40s, but rather of the intrusion of the violent drunken Bruno Handke into his night life and the inevitable identification with this horror as                           his father. See my attempt at an explanation of Handke's dark side.

I apologize, this was meant as just a brief note.

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MICHAEL ROLOFF http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html