as I would like on my proposition of a HANDE READER. Below you will find
a table of content - divisions and foci and raison d'être for same.
Meanwhile it is worth dwelling on who ought to do the introducing,
not just overall, but to individual sections.
Overall what is needed for the USA and the UK I expect, I think,
is someone who not has some real understanding of Handke, but
someone who is not in Germanics studies [who currently have
no one I know as Victor Lange could be said to have had the
range beyond those particular confines]
that is a critic with range, an Edmund Wilson type,
a Henry James... what is the closest we get to an Adorno,
a Leavis, Walter Benjamin, Ernst Bloch, Georgy Lukacs,
Ernst Curtius, Auerbach... Harold Bloom comes to mind,
Frank Kermode, Dennis Donahue, William Gass, Michael Wood,
David Bromwich, and I expect I am leaving out others,
I do not read as much criticism as I used to.
Some of these gentlemen are not exactly spring chicken -
though I ran a six minute mile this summer past,
nor am I... and so can be said to have lost only a minute
and a half since my best time ever - which was the last time of that?
1980 on the beach on St. Simons Island on the Georgia
Goldcoast, the Marshes of Glynn, and met "Lucky Thompson"
a sweet Sax player who struck me also as harmlessly loony.
There is a lot of Handke, and about 7 different phases!
That can be divided into 7 year periods, so far!
The fellow prides himself on non-repetition even though
he titled one novel THE REPETITION which indeed retrieves
and rewalks a lot! And one diary excerpt "Phantasies of Repetition".
My own approach to Handke in some sense is as a composer,
and if you look what the guy was like as a kid -
practicing writing as of an early age like someone
possessed by the piano, you get a hint of why the
fellow is such a virtuoso. And he still wears his hair long!
[Makes him suspect like Liszt, don't want to leave your
daughter in his presence too long unattended!]
A bit better kempt than during his Sturm period,
that's about all! There is a different dress mode
for each stage of your career on the world stage.
Since the fellow also needs to write nearly all the
time to stay halfway sane and since he loves writing
more than any muse he has ever encountered
[see the end of Del Gredos for this],
well, if you are like that and also have some
genius and attend to Greek and Latin early on...
and are autistically sensitive as to be nauseated
by other bodies and thus need to take even your
closest friends out of the house to go mushroom picking...
you actually have a lot of time to kill and get somewhere
especially if you are as ambitious as Napoleon who wants
to be # Uno on the parade ground!
Names that come to mind for the general introduction,
are William Gass I got to know a bit after his first
rate piece on MY YEAR IN THE NO-MAN'S BAY.
James Wood endeared himself to my trembling heart
when he agreed with every word of my letter to the NY Times
on the occasion of Neil Gordon's abomination in the
NY Times Book Review on the occasion of CROSSING THE SIERRA DEL GREDOS.
keep writing to Neil Gordon and the New School and ask them
how it is that someone like that is in charge of their writing
program who clearly does not know how to read! And has the character
of a hired assassin, hired by Sam Tanenhaus the Book Review editor,
who from the few things of his I have read [most recently on
the psychotic narcissistic rager at Biology at the Department
at some University in Georgia is a dunce too.
Frank Kermode did a fine early response in the NYRB...
A friend is approaching Denis Donahue for me...
whose work I certainly think first rate,
whether he knows Handke remains to be revealed.
And since my attempts to breathe life into the ghost of
Henry James are succeeding only fitfully if anyone knows
how fiction works and where it can take you...
and what your exposure to it can do your state of mind, so that...
Since Greil Marcus did such a fine job with the
introduction to to the new edition of SHORT LETTER...
perhaps he would be willing to address some of Handke's knottinesses...
I'm afraid I don't see anyone in post-menstrualist studies
whose Tampax has enough moisture... Although Barthes could have
written wonderfully about Handke.
Since I regard Handke also as a kind of activist Wittgenstein...
someone from those regions perhaps?
There have been some texts in Handke studies that have been
invaluable to my own understanding, especially the book length
interview that Herbert Gamper conducted with Handke in the mid-80, But I live exclusively from the Threshhods/ the Inbetween as Ich lebe doch nur von den Zwischenräumen might be called;
also the book tracing how other writers work has entered Handke,
I forget the fine scholar's name right now,
I met him back around 1990 at one of the Austrian shindig at U.C. Riverside.
Peter Strasser's Freudenstoff I care for since it indicates
the immense joy via some of Handke's mother Maria Sivec's
love for her little bastard is transmitted reaches us -
but that I imagine sounds a bit mystical to you.
Since Handke as dramatist is a chip off the Shakespeare and
Aeschylus block... a section devoted to that aspect is needed.
Richard Gilman is no longer with us. Besides, he never saw the plays
before he wrote the first long essay on the early Handke plays.
And to really attend to them you have to describe the EXPERIENCES
they create. I have a monograph on the dramas nearly completed,
and aside a lot of tidying up have plans for only two more essays
on Handke, on his poetics and on his development - oh boy!!! - as prose writer,
from the early virtuoso things in Begrüssung des Aufsichtsrats
[Welcoming the Board of Directors and Die Hornissen
[The Hornets] and Der Hausierer [The Panhandler]
which both exist in the Romance languages, whose audience
has been more receptive to him, especially Spain and Portugal,
to the 2008 Moravian Night...
Division into periodicities thus would be easy and also appropriate,
but it requires certain foci, such as on the prose development,
the change in poetics, on the aspect of Handke as "assayer"
as I think of is different kinds of essays
[John D'Agata is a natural to address that],
say Singular and Plural from Innerworld
[where I once demonstrated how by writing Handke conquers fear!
now if that isn't something to give the "new Kafka" a swollen head!]
plus what I regard as the high point of that assaying approach,
now combined with rediscovered narrative, Don Juan.
I am just now starting to write a piece on that
and will share it anon. The second section would address itself to what I call
Handke's Paris crisis [1971-78] the lay-a-broad
left high and dry both by his mom and his wife,
and like many a lay-abroad before him... couldn't handle it,
started to fugue, but wrote some first rate things about
his then state of mind. And didn't learn the lesson
that you have to treat a woman right, or they will split
no matter how famous or a great artist you are!
Not many French saints about! Fewer and fewer by the year
who want to live with a frigid Salamander who hits and bites!
Via John D'Agata's great collection "The Origin of the Essay"
that contains a Handke text from Innerworld I have fallen
in love with a Sumerian text that talks about biting bitches
to be avoided on those streets, the concubines tossed
out by the high and mighty. Oh how old the corruption of the
Then we have the Salzburg period 1979 to 1986, another 7 year stint,
at which point we fled back to Paris,
we'd gotten ourselves into trouble with a wench!
who is haunting and hunting him even now as I write.
Erinyes like that exist! No fury has hell...
There are all those wonderful texts that
describe wanderings in Yugoslavia, the Provence, Spain...
There ought to be one section that focuses very closely
on technical innovations... dreams writing,
what Edmond Caldwell calls "the Handke effect",
writing in dream syntax, certain sections from Moravian [which I regard
as Handke's most problematic text, for a host of reasons,
even though it contains some of his most astonishing writing ever.
How he does his making the world magical again! Del Gredos
in particular for that, excerpts.
Perhaps a section devoted to excepts from his four diary volumes??
How does one deal with the Yugoslavia involvement?
I think I mentioned initially that such a reader represents
a wonderful opportunity to make up where his main US Publisher
Farrar, Straus has been remiss over the years. The Cuckoos of Velica Hoca  see this page devoted to it at
handkeprose2.scriptmania site [link to all matters mentioned here
via the link below] Velica Hoca is certainly by far the best text on that subject
and demonstrates what a great reporter Handke can be
who normally showers obloquy on these critters.
With an essay by Scott Abbot on Handke's involvement in Yugoslavia
where I only fault Handke for then copping out when it came to
being an "expert witness" for Milosevic at Scheveningen.
I myself have written a small books worth of pieces on the subject
and did so to make it comprehensible to myself. That is how I work.
German reviewers meanwhile - Weinzierl, Kastberger, Detering
who come out of Germanistik - have become utterly deferential,
now that Handke is about to win the Nobel, has sold his notebooks
and manuscript for a total of about one million Euro to two institutions
that buy that kind of stuff, keeps the company of princes of industry
and presidents....but Handke has always been his own best critic. The German
reviewer rabble is as hideous as here, and some of them have jobs
at major papers! Aren't merely occasional idiots but convey their
idiocy into print day and week in and out. Hubert Spiegel at the FAZ,
a couple of folks at Die Zeit. One fellow who usually has a cool head, Lothar
Struck has become prematurely Apfelmus over Moravian, in Glanz und Elend. One of those on-line review organs that give you hope as there are increasing
numbers in all languages!!
[I] The Playful Avant Gardist
When I was 15 [to be found in an early anthology
by Eckehard Kronenberg] Welcoming the Board of Directors
I am an Inhabitant of the Ivory Tower
Half a dozen texts from Innerworld
[because it demonstrates how Handke
plays with fear, and it disappears]
Perhaps My Foot My Tutor
instead because it also manifests his
serial procedure with such utter clarity?
Problematics [1971-78] You can't get away without the mistitled Sorrow Beyond Dreams and need to annotate it from the perspective
of imagining what life was like for Maria
Sivec's firstborn under those circumstances.
This section affords the opportunity
for a good biographical essay.
Perhaps one of the progressively more fugueing poems in Nonsense & Happiness [but since there ought to be a separate
short section on Handke's poem...]
A section from Moment of True Feeling
perhaps not the suicidal parts but the one of that
Salzburg As an example of the fellow's state
of mind The Afternoon of the Writer, which differs
not that much from "Loser", the case,
the once again murderously minded,
in Across [Chinese des Schmerzens] 1984,
but also as an example of one of Handke's
short novels, a la Left-Handed Woman...
Escriture Pure This is the central section on prose writing
NAMING: Chapter I from A Slow Homecoming THE KING OF SLOWNESS: A section from The Repetition to show how you are slowed down by reading a text
SYNTAX: The opening of Goalie as an example how
syntax can involve your state of mind in that
of a paranoid-schizophrenic... The Hour we knew Nothing of each Other in its entirety because the text takes you
by the scruff of your syntax and doesn't let
go until the end. A better translation than
the Honegger one, perhaps the one that was done for the performance at The National in London
two years ago??? Dream Metaphor: the section from Afternoon of the Writer where the writer is injured by the Salzburg
gossips and feels like a hit and run victim in a ditch
THE HANDKE EFFECT: The section that Edmund Caldwell
picked in One Dark Night I Left my Silent House where textual doubt is demonstrated most successfully
DREAM SYNTAX: From the same book, after the "Pharmacist"
gets bumped on the head...
PROSE experienced AS FILM: Either the opening of Absence
or of the 2007 novel Kali where the text
is not only experienced as such but
also as opera to adumbrate the reading experience...
Handke the operatic, his knowledge as a dramatist
enters in unexpected ways...
RE-MAGICKING THE WORLD: A section from Del Gredos PROSE PURE: A few sections from Moravian Night
Poems A wonderful edition of Handke's complete poems
was published recently by Bartelsby in Madrisdd,
it contains all of Innerworld, all the long poems from Nonsense and Happiness, the incidental poems
as they appear in the four published notebook volumes
and the wonderful as yet untranslated, into English, Das Gedicht an die Dauer
["Poem to Lasting Things," as it might be called] Vivir sin Poesia is the title of the Bartleby Edition.
Drama Since the Reader already contains a number of
texts along that line: either Radio Play or My Foot My Tutor from the first sections, The Hour and a couple of filmic and
operatic sections in Escriture Pure, I would put in the
opening from Preparations for Immortality to show what
Fifth Symphony type openings Handke can write,
and put in one of the two plays that he wrote
in French, my favorite being, La Cuisine, written for the Serbian director Materic.
and celebrating, wouldn't you know, Serbian ham!
And a really good essay on his development
which certainly has left American theater and
its miserable directors and artistic directors
in the dust... don't let me get started on that
subject and my prime example, the Nordic
Provinciality of Seattle. John Lahr knew
the early Handke, I dropped him a note
the other day after I read his wonderful
piece on ex-author Sam Shepard in The New Yorker.
I await your feedback..