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Friday, March 16, 2018


“You may fancy an artist’s work as much as Foie Gras  despite the chance that if you meet that artist in person it will be the goose.” Freely, after Arthur Koestler.800-364-3039






HANDKE’S DIE OBSTDIEBIN / ALEXIA, THE FRUIT THIEF – a verbally and narratively marvelous portmanteau of a wandering Handke book –  
translation of whose deceptive German sub-title



“An Ordinary Trip to the…Heartland”

would do the title trick, too,

    in ONE respect____
could not be a simpler book:

A NO-MAN’S BAY author sets out in high summer August days

"This story began on one of those midsummer days on which if you walk barefoot in the grass you will get the first bee sting of the year. At least that is what kept happening to me, though meanwhile I know that the days of the first and often unique annual bee sting usually coincide with the white clover starting to bloom, at ground level, where the bees, half-hidden,  scurry about.”

on an expedition into the Picardie, a picturesque region north of Paris where the likes of Van Gogh, too, have found visual inspiration, and first acquaints us with the goings on in his immediate surround – fans of the great NO-MAN’S BAY

may be interested how those environs have fared - and in Chaville; then takes a trip to Paris and further, highly observant, to the initial stop destination, Clergy-Pointoise – that is the first fourth of the book at which point he substitutes Alexia, the incidental Fruit Filcher, a rural religiously inflected flaneur vagabond in her mid-twenties, most adventurously explores in three days the 60 kilometer stretch from Clergy-Pointoise via Chars to Chaumont sur Oesne along the river Voisne and on the Vexin Plateau.

Here, the links to visuals of these locales/

Images of the river Oise:

To Chaumont &  the river Troesne

which – as he - the Austro-German-Slovenian author – states - in FRUIT THIEF as well as in NO-MAN’S-BAY - has been an immigrant haven for a long time.

Those who have read the book and then check out the links will be smitten by the potency of Handke’s powers of description.


ALEXIA, FRUIT THIEF, thus, could function as the most delightful guide book to this stretch of the Picardie, or as an idiosyncratic compliment or conjunction to the more official boring kind to an area, meanwhile rife with touristy inns!

As we find out from Handke’s longtime - occasionally Handke-fired but reinstated - Suhrkamp editor Raimund Fellinger

ALEXIA, THE FRUIT THIEF – a book of 150 k + was written - by hand in pencil - between the months of September and December 2016, and thence, in galleys, underwent Handke’s now customary emendations.
   It might go without saying though the saying in this instance becomes quite interesting: the reason why ALEXIA necessarily underwent considerable preparation [though probably not in further exploration of NO-MAN’S-BAY environs that Handke must know as he does the back of his hand], but of the Picardie, for that stretch of land to be portrayed in such ravishing detail –  for an author to know each minor hamlet in the area even a genius fast perceiver like Handke requires time and footwork - explanations for which close acquaintance is I would think that Handke and his second wife Sophie Semin have bought themselves a rural abode in the region, the second out of Paris home for Sophie who - see MORAWIAN NIGHT – escaped the “cold salamander” NO-MAN’S-BAY abode that is reserved for “cold salamander” preparations of veritable manu-scripts, where Sophie – note the abundance of books - failed to transform herself into a book. [1]

ALEXIA, FRUUIT THIEF might, thus, also be fruitfully read in conjunction with the NO-MAN’S BAY author’s other recent expedition, the one to Paris - THE GREAT FALL - which ALEXIA references so acutely toward the end during a stretch when she suffers what might be called “a soul’s dark day in bright sunlight” – i.e. the parallel state of mind between the two books in that respect – and yet the soul, though it seems to want to, does not quite inhabit St. Teresa of Avila or vice vera.
THE GREAT FALL is finally being published, this 2018 Spring, by Seagull via U. of Chicago Press, and provides the other side of this NO-MAN’S-BAY dweller’s existence. [I regard FALL a kind of successor to THE AFTERNOON OF A WRITER, and equally troubling except of course for the writing.]

Here the link to THE GREAT FALL


and to Scott Abbott’s and my discussion of it & to the customary collection of reviews.


In light of the foregoing suggestion that FRUIT THIEF can also be read as a guide to a particular stretch in the Picardie I image that Handke  could have easily have just done a variant of one of his travel accounts, condensations 

and not bothered with the exertion of inventing his surrogate, Alexia, and on the train already is on the lookout for her who then turns the exploration of the Picardie into an adventure story that I read with the same excitement that I as a kid used to read Karl May - not an experience I ever thought I would have with a Handke book.
  Via Handke’s doppelganger Alexia, the fruit thief’s wanderings become the subject of the narration which becomes ever more playful and adventurous, with a host of side essays, anv vignettes, quite a bit more alacritous {my favorite word these days that I am no longer so meself1] as Handke, now in his 70s, might be himself – getting all wrapped up in a blackberry thicket? - at least physically. It is in this fashion that FRUIT THIEF becomes an agglomeration with all kinds of asides – a real Handke book – impure – agglomeration being a term that the book itself uses when describing [in such great detail!] the Picardie town of Clergy-Pointoise which French rationalization has assembled and made weird after WW II - and Handke uses agglomeration as the French have and with I would think entirely unintentional irony, unaware I expect that the term might also be used to describe the FRUIT THIEF portmanteau whose “modern” features may or may not be intended by an author proudly conservative in many ways.

Not only does Handke seem to have a lot of fun with the monologues and other digressions - the dramalets - integration of his abilities as a dramatist [more on that aspect anon -  and on
some individual brief essay-like passages - that break but, surprisingly I must say, never slow the underlying narrative drive once the adventure into the Picardie is underway after Alexia’s one night at Clergy-Pontoise, and it is a strong narrative drive I never expected from Handke who usually manages to slow things down - but I guess it just goes to show that a claim he wrote me at the time he completed A MOMENT OF TRUE FEELING that he had reached a stage where he was “capable of doing everything in his writing”, that he had the kind of command if you are in charge of all the instruments in a symphony orchestra.  
Subsequent to translating WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES and ever after, especially with HOUR WE KNEW NOTHING OF EACH OTHER, I have had no reason to doubt his claim.- And it is the sort of thing that ought to make you shiver it is so spooky!
Handke is an exhibitionist with something to exhibit. Each of his exhibitions is a “look Ma’, no hands,”, a Seiltanz, and though a few of his works and acts were scandals - his initial public appearance in Princeton in 1966, the premiere of PUBLIKUMSBESCHIMPFUNR/ OFFENDING THE AUDIENCE, and JOURNEY TO THE RIVERS

his appearance at the funeral of Slawomir Milosevic’s is the only instance in which he made the world at large – and the world is no Backfisch – blush.
However, the adventure as a whole, Alexia’s, is not any old adventure – it has stages, it has an ordeal, Alexia acquires a male follower, a Pizza delivery boy who attaches himself to her, but whom she does not tell to go away as she delightfully addresses a dog that won’t stop following her. For a stretch she turns into Hamletina, there is an amazing act of salvation – of a moribund cat! And perhaps in that sense Alexia’s journey is analogous to a kind of passion. However,
Handke has said a number of times, as well as in ALEXIA, FRUIT THIEF itself [towards the end] that his idea of epic narration is modeled or inspired by Wolfram von Eschenbach, the 13th century author of Parzifal and of Wolfram’s Willehalm. And he also states that no story of his can tell itself – it requires the intrusion of the narrator and he does here any number of times saying “that’s how the story want
‘s it”.  
FRUIT THIEF mentions the name of Wolfram a few times and refers directly to Willehalm at the end and FRUIT THIEF also sprinkles in some French, but in fact that’s   pretty much the only matters that these two so entirely different epics have in common.

Its [Willehalm’s] account of conflict between Christian and Muslim cultures, centering on the warrior-saint Willehalm and his wife Gyburc, a convert from Islam, challenges the ideology of the Crusades. It celebrates the heroism, faith, and family solidarity of the Christians, but also displays the suffering of both sides in the war and questions the justification of all killing. Gyburc, whose abandonment of her Muslim family and conversion to Christianity are the immediate cause of the war, bears a double burden of sorrow, and it is from her that springs a vision of humanity transcending religious differences that is truly remarkable for its time. In Gyburc's heathen brother Rennewart and his love for the French king's daughter, Wolfram also develops a richly comic strand in the narrative, with the outcome left tantalizingly open by the work's probably unfinished conclusion. .. Wolfram's supreme qualities as a story-teller.” 

Handke, who -  early on - noticed how his equal as artificer James Joyce had managed to assure himself of continued scholarly attention and, thus, of one feasible continued life for his work, pulls the wool over the eyes of current scholars, leads them down the garden path, sie gehen ihm auf den Leim, they invariably seem to fall into the trap and buy his red herrings, most grievously here the professor reviewer for LITERATUR KRITIK who falls for Handke’s suggestion hook line and sinker!

 Pal and admired scholar Scott Abbott fell for the suggesting that MORAWIAN is a book about narration – as though Handke required a tome of 500 + pages for that purpose!? - these dear people miss that Handke wrote an earlier version of Moravian called SAMARA

that was already typeset at which point the author discovered opportunities to elaborate; and since he is the publisher’s star author he is indulged and the first setting is junked but ends up with the Austrian handke.online research site.
MORAWIAN has the kind of open-ended set-up that would allow Handke to add any number of further chapters once he’d got a drift of how or whether to present them with equal metaphoric dramatic aplomb and painterly force; that is the Morawa, the boat on which these “A Thousand Night” tales are told, could be set adrift down the Morawa River into the Danube and end up in the Black Sea.
MORAWIAN NIGHT features not only quite a bit of walking and all over the map, especially but not exclusively in the Balkans, and has its share of Handke’s wonderfully described bus rides, too, and is rich in the kind of Handke raisins that will keep the scholars busy busy busy.
Oh yes, Wolfram provides the appropriate – to high summer weather that pervades the entire book - opening epigraph:
   Man gesach den lichten summer
in so maniger varve nie
[Never have you seen high summer in such many-splendored colors!]

Filip Kobal’s focused wanderings in THE REPETITION had a Parsifal-like quality. Yet Handke’s five epic novels – THE REPETITION, MY YEAR IN THE NO-MAN’S BAY, BILDVERLUST, ACROSS THE SIERRA DEL GREDOS, MORAVIAN NIGHT, and the current FRUIT THIEF are all very different kinds of epics

FRUIT THIEF [2017] is Handke’s fifth epic of a kind of “monstrum” he once promised he would never commit [thinking they would remain incomplete, e.g. like Musil’s, who died prematurely in exile in Switzerland of a heart attack in 1942].
Each of Handke’s major oeuvre of the epic kind – not including the one would-be monstrum that Handke left the way he had feared he might – are major exertions and have specific wandering locales and no matter how different from each other narratively – it is typical for Handke not to repeat himself or as little as possible - and what a nuisance for reviewers and the like – these epics are wandering walking novels – written by an author who noted in WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES that

“It has become hard to walk on the earth,” as indeed it has with the impediments to human and to animal locomotion that the Autobahn builders have put in their way, as they have in the Picardie as well.
   Many shorter works, too, e.g. the novel ONE DARK NIGHT and the assayings ON THE JUKE BOX & ON FATIGUE contain amazing descriptions of walking’s  pleasures and difficulties.   

1] Langsame Heimkehr / A SLOW HOMECOMING [the novel part of that American edition which includes CHILD STORY & ST. VICTOIRE]

 is the one incomplete Handke work, which I believe was meant to have epic proportion - Handke referred to his plans as a “Staatsroman” – a kind of official undertaking!? the size of a state? – at any event, something grand that perhaps was meant to demonstrate explore a continuity of large geologic forms?; its protagonist Sorger, a geological surveyor, the novel’s inception in a fairly pristine Alaska – it is dedicated “to the snow” [!]- hints at epic ambitions of that kind…
It was I who pointed Handke to Alaska around 1970 when he wrote asking what American winters were like, though he seemed to have forgotten all about the suggestion by the time he returned from Alaska in 1978 - as he did other matters - to NY to write the book.
 SLOW HOMECOMING’S opening Alaska chapter had a profound effect on me for my having spent nine months in that vastness - fighting forest fires and as a surveyor - see

from the last chapter of my Screen Memories] - traipsing and boating the length and breadth of that huge area as far north as the Brooks Range, inducing an experience of wholeness and immensity of a kind that is more than oceanic or otherly oceanic and that remained unresolved until I read Handke’s chapter… May you, too, have experiences of that kind to resolve!... Great San Francisco chapter, but then the text sort of “peters” out – perhaps the locale and time where and when Handke wrote these parts and then, exceptionally, ran out of words – he had been rehearsing its first sentence… “Sorger had outlived many of those who had become close to him; he had ceased to long for anything but often felt a selfless love of existence and at times a need for salvation so palpable it weighed on his eyelids,”… for years on end!  [FN

- in the Hotel Adams on East 86th Street in Manhattan in a room with a view of Central Park in a quiet very upper-class area. -
Perhaps adverse 1978/9 NY conditions are to blame, or over-eagerness to make the transition from less ambitious stuff - I know of no other uncompleted Handke prose work; a few plays expired in draft stage, and but for certain matters which I will address in a footnote I would have asked Handke to go with me when I stopped working around 10-11p.m at my Tribeca office and hit my downtown bars and music clubs CBGBS and MUDD and SCREECH where the pretty ones when they wanted you told you up front, love making became like breathing, and it happened to be the rare time that I had not a main squeeze, and Handke, if he had wanted, would at least have a bit of a good time to look back upon. That NY period then disabused him of his once explored idea - for him and his daughter Amina - to live in Manhattan or its suburbs.
Up until SLOW HOMECOMING Handke had written a handful of often ambitious and complex but also typically laconic condensed short books, [FN] and survived a major crisis upon the suicide of his mother, and the first wife going disparu to his director Klaus Peymann for about as good and valid cause as wife can have to leave a neglectful layabroad who only writes or wants to talk about writing – epic intention can be said to be perhaps hinted at in the immediately preceding LEFT-HANDED WOMAN – 1976 - or can be found retrospectively latent.
For WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGE, part IV of his ‘home coming’ cycle, however, Handke was prepared, prepared himself as you can read in the untranslated - into English - [its predecessor Weight of the World had done well] Geschichte des Bleistifts / History of the Pencil [FN].

At any event, it was nearly ten years before Handke then completed the first epic walking novel and what a book it is!
THE REPETIION rewalks a post-graduation trip and refigures SORROW BEYOND DREAMS and is certainly one of the most important Handke books for me who happened to read it while under the influence of the slow pounding surf of the Pacific, waves that roll in all the way from storms in the South Pacific and so was in a state of mind that I could respond to the book‘s pace and rhythm. And not only for me:

Of the invariable ludicrous reviews that the NY Times Book Review has bestowed

on Handke’s major efforts the most idiotic and impertinent was of THE REPETIION where David Price Jones inveighs against the protagonist – an 18-year old - for not lambasting Tito whose image appears during his perambulation through Slovenia and its Carso following the footsteps of a horticulturalist uncle to Ljubljana. The fellow who wrote this and the editor who published this review ought at the very least to have been flogged, if not shot; capital punishment in egregious cases of this kind might just do the trick of preventing the like of this kind of review. Jones is one of the four NY TIMES reviewers of the four NY Times reviewers of these major titles – others are Siegel, on NO-MAN’S BAY, a Neil Gordon of SIERA DEL GREDOS, and one Joshua Cohen/ MORAWIAN NIGHT [lets not forget the NYRB and the hacks that a tired Bob Silvers used, Adam Kirsch and the Marcus]

 who can regard themselves as fortunate not to have run into me while I was in the Chihuahua and carrying side arms as I rode out and made sure that the overhead vultures accompanying me were well-fed!  
Take a look at the Guardian review for compare:

2] One Year in the No-Man’s Bay 1994

walks not something approximate a straight line but CIRCLES - about half a dozen times - while exploring the half dozen sides of an artist, a circling that is prefigured in the preparatory assaying THE ESSAY ON THE DAY THAT WENT WELL which circles Paris ever more rapidly, among other matters it accomplishes.    Handke, now well prepared for the marathon, wrote the 250 k opus in one year and by pencil – first and final draft but for some work in galleys - his congratulatory publisher, the Gauner Siegfried Unseld, finding  an m.s. of this kind unacceptable a typist was found; and Handke has been rewriting and adding in galleys ever since. - Note my report about how good reading this book five times in one year made me feel – testimony to Peter Strasser’s  Handke, ein Freudenstoff  / Handke’s joy-producing Stuff

not that anyone but the fewest of the few in this godforsaken nerve-dead country seems to have been so affected. I account for this effect on me – who might have reasons not to be so affected by matters Handke – by Handke even intra-uterine having been a mother’s ultra love-child, surrogate for the love of beautiful Maria Sivec’s life, and then just look at the photos of her and baby Peter, how their eyes are in love with each other

   As mama’s boy Handke who with all that autobiographical writing might be a bit more aware than he seems at times yet eventually realizes he received a bit too much of a good thing, and that surfeit has entered what he loves most and then spills over to a good reader like meself – now  you go falsify that claim of mine!
Siegel’s review in the New York Times needs to be compared with William Gass’s to show why fraud Siegel ought to have been strung up ages ago.

3] Across the Sierra del Gredos [Bildverlust] 2004

memorializes Handke’s travels and walking tours in a particular region – the la Mancha - Spain and uses an impersonation of a BANKIERESS for the same reason that he uses Alexia in FRUIT THIEF: to free himself from his notebook and to be imaginative and playful and suggest alternatives, though the Banker side of Handke is less appealing than that of the almsgiving Stair-dweller Saint! But since those trips to Spain were in the company of ultra-wealthy magazine publisher Burda the ultra-competitive pasha - that too is Handke - may have invented the Bankieress for that purpose; or she incorporates some Burda sides, who knows? – However, Neil Gordon the NY Times reviewer has not been much heard of since I took exception to his travesty - turns out once oldest and dearest friend Frank Conroy, then at the Iowa Writing Workshop, told the ass to head East. Frank unfortunately wasn’t around anymore for me to complain!

4] Moravian Night 2011  \

fellow Handke translator and aficionado if not venerator Scott Abbott and I discussed at length and came to loggerheads on an egg or chicken question. Scott felt that book’s subject was “narration”, as the book at one instance claims, I maintain that Handke devised his own “Thousand and One Night Scheherazade” to accommodate a host of auto-biographical matters and does so in a few instances in the most supreme poetic way, and could have gone on forever with the kind of Handke tales that amuse me and Mari Colbin who and I nearly got married because we would never get bored telling each other Handke stories – see her review of Malte Herwig’s Handke biography

which that sad case Herwig managed to get an Austrian news service to withdraw with a threat of suing for a huge sum which of course it would have taken a huge sum to defend.
No suit against me or darling Mari! the sixth Handke wench I have come to know; and - as Freud mentioned a few times - there is no better way of getting to know a person than to know their sexuality in the bedroom.
   To summarize: Handke has been writing, compulsively as of necessity, more or less formally imaginatively inflected auto-biography since the beginning. [FN]

Handke will be known as one of the great Catholic novelists –  say, Bernanos and Walker Percy –  a writer and dramatist who - though touchingly anti-modern in some respects - malgre luis his allegiance to the logos has had little choice but to be a forever innovator; so that the greater his fathoming of the past the more playful and profound his innovations. 



At what point while thinking of memorializing his perambulations in the Picardie did the idea of using Alexia as a medium occur to Handke? For, initially, during the first quarter of the book -  set in the NO-MAN’S BAY environs - there is no mention of her.
The author sets out on a fine bee-sting high summer day but there is no mention that he will be looking for Alexia the Fruit Thief. Only on the train to Clergy-Pointoise

– nearly a quarter way into the book - he mistakes a young woman all bundled-up for Alexia, and that is how we find out that he is looking for her, and he finds her and with her, sometimes through her eyes and ears, we first of all explore and dissertate on the agglomeration Clergy-Pointoise… and - but for interesting authorial descriptions, much later in the book, of what he the NO-MAN’S BAY writer is up to, narrating in the first person singular or, later, for a while the plural  - Alexia remains his medium for the expedition from Clergy via Chars always along the river Voisne to Claumond sur Oesne – a 60 kilometer hike that feels like a  it took a month – it is so rich in observed detail and thought.
 . Clergy-Pointoise itself is explored for not quite one day - one afternoon and night and early morning - and I felt I really really knew the place and how to get around it – testimony to Handke’s power as a writer to inscribe details into my mind – but I can see no particular reason why Handke needed surrogate Alexia to narrate his acquaintance with Clergy-Pointoise or to spend an amazing night in a house in mourning or to describe the few old village parts that rationalist modernization have spared, not consumed in this agglomeration: great stuff! And narrated at diary easy-going pace. - Or Alexia being quite unable to get back out of town as the hedged-in sub-urban circular developments keep interposing themselves – you and I know them well from the US of A.
   Anyhoo, who is this Alexia that Handke needs her, to tell his Picardie story in the form of an adventure?   - First of all to make his acquaintance with the region, acquired over a number of years, interesting and the pace certainly picks up once Alexia hits… not the road but the river Viosne valley!

Generally speaking, Alexia, methinks, is yet another of Handke’s surrogates, Josef Bloch, Keuschnig, Sorger, Loser, Filip Kobal, etc., etc.

She is Handke’s dissociated medium which points to his ability – manifested most manifestly in GOALIE, where Bloch is presented as a paranoid schizophrenic, and via grammatical sleight of hand puts the reader in that state of mind – which means that Handke as a person is the very opposite of anything of the kind since he seems, at least when writing, to be able to dissociate a medium surrogate and, thus, has that rare ability also at other times – spooky, to understand a schizophrenic state of mind – and I think at least the equal if not of a higher order than Stephen Daedalus using the image of paring of fingernails on a Rembrandt painting to describe the objectifying writing process [FN]

In that respect each of these mediums surrogates are cut from the cloth of their author, amusingly as in the case of „Keuschnig” of A MOMENT OF TRUE FEELNG & NO-MAN’S BAY – someone who dwells in an Austrian peasant’s hut and is „keusch” – chaste, which Handke  - though he used to need to make serious attempts in that direction certainly was anything but for decades, and which is the sort of thing that can get a layabroad into all kinds of trouble and have consequences – the fear of  that girl in the reeds in MORAVIAN NIGHT that is ready to assassinate, and similar paranoia in NO-MAN’S BAY are entirely justified, Erinyes all.
   Sorger and Loser, too, indicate qualities of their creator, the Bankieress presents me with identificatory problems but perhaps she is Handke’s capitalist side to which he admitted to Mueller in one of his interviews; that Taxham fellow who is used to write in dream grammar in ONE DARK NIGHT is most interesting, and Alexia, St. Alexius twin, is being used here most imaginatively and perhaps wishfully as the kind of youthful adventurer the author is not quite anymore now in his 70s.

More specifically, Alexia is said to be the daughter of the Bankieress from Crossing the Sierra del Gredos, irrelevantly since this is just a novelistic touch which adds nothing and which Handke could have spared himself. Chiefly, Alexia strikes me as the younger sister of the Lefthanded Woman. [FN] She is chaste – not withdrawn from a husband yet she has the chastest of dreams, a sixteen year old’s dream it reminded me of – and this is the sole section that gives the reader an idea of who she is, as does her behavior of not hooking up with her companion -
The dream allows the possibility of a future husband, and though not entirely non-carnal, I find it hard to tell whether Alexia – who earlier on suffers an amusing episode as Hamletina – might not be on the opposite way to the kind of nunnery that Hamlet tells Ophelia to get to – or even to assume the soul of St. Teresa of Avila who is mentioned in the context.  Alexia, the twin sister of St. Alexius under the Stairs

does not have her name because Handke is courting the Amazon.com M Windows’ helpmate ‘Alexa!’

Come the day that Handke makes his peace with the Internet even though the Austrian state’s literature department has created a site for the material that he sold them for a hefty sum.

How  truly wissenschaftlich / scholarly  and scientific we are going to be remains to be seen.

Alexia is presented as a vagabond who has been all over the world – to lots of the same places that Peter Handke has been: Alaska, Detroit, Spain’s Sierra del Gredos and is said to have just returned from… has Handke been? … Siberia! However, associations with these places are not even a bare minimum and don’t add anything much. Are part of what strikes me as a rater desultory attempt to satisfy certain not altogether pleasurable novelistic requirements. Sketchy and contradictory-- About as much as the disconcerting refrain that Alexia, a haute bourgeois French dropout, is a fan of Eminem, no mention of French contemporary chansonniers.
Alexia also does quite a few things that Handke does in other “walking” books – such as walk backwards prior to getting underway in a forward direction! She and thresholds share the thresholders apprehensions in that respect.
She seems to be in her mid-twenties - but as you get to know her she is a twenty-something who does not hook up with young  Valter - the pizza delivery boy who - as compared the dog that is so amusingly told to split in one of the book's wonderful theatrical passages - follows her like a human dog - and they spend a night in separate rooms in the Auberge Dieppe and she has that fascinating chaste dream - our Fruit Thief is said to have tramped all over the world and gone half a year to the university in Pointoise but is entirely atypical of such world travelers and of contemporary young women and does not seem to be Laocadie, Handke’s 2nd daughter, though Handke might have consulted Laocadie in some matters relating to young French women if he had had real interest in rendering such.
I have this hunch that Alexia only occurred to him about a quarter of the ways into a book that might also have remained just a detailed account of one of his expeditions with the Picardie, which would have been a well-developed but far less interesting travel diary that would have been devoid these numerous essayistic passages that indicate an author of some experience with existence and are not penned by Alexia and have little if any bearing on her..
 Alexia  or an  adventurer like her might have been there at the bee-sting start, as traveling companion who, e.g. regards the NO-MAN’S BAY with fresh eyes? - Why this cumbersome way of suddenly looking for her and finding her? Not elegant at all. Within the context of a lot of verbal razzmatazz Handke performs a few mis-steps and does so in the way he describes the [his] analog - that he cites on page  x the star midfielder of PSG [Paris-St. Germain] who makes the world’s most astonishing shots - a supreme genius - but is then awkward beyond belief! -“tollpatchig” a deceased German critic who gave Handke the hardest of time, called it, a supreme genius who can be bit of an idiot – idiots with whom Handke feels such affinity as you read his texts! A bit like the KASPAR of a play of his.  

Alexia is said to be the daughter of the Bankieress from Sierra del Gredos – a matter that adds nothing, one aspect of ‘novelizing’ that Handke in rather ordinary and desultory badly edited fashion exercises here; as little as finding out in MORAWIAN NIGHT that Filip Kobal the protagonist of THE REPETION now writes film scripts – the only time that this “in-ness” of  being in a Handke-world worked for me was when Josef Bloch, the paranoid-schizophrenic murderer of GOALIE’S ANXIETY AT THE PENALTY KICK who is arrested at the moment that the soccer ball, to his immense surprise, hits his midriff, resurfaces in WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES as one of the worker-clowns and mucks around the woods frightening the natives.- Handke, once upon the time of A Slow Homecoming, said he would never be novelistic in this fashion, and this way of being “in” was something that used to annoy him in Thomas Mann. Alexia the vagabond can wander anywhere she likes and does not need the obvious motivation of a not overly exciting family get together as an excuse, we hear nothing about it until the end as it is about to transpire. “That is how the tale wants it, the way the tale tells it.” is a frequent imprecation by an author who admits at the end that he, a dweller of the NO-MAN’S-BAY, is writing the book. He could easily have come out and said, “It’s me Peter Handke, I am writing a Peter Handke Book, and using Alexia will be a lot more fun, allows my imagination and playfulness to roam as I can’t just do in a notebook or a travel account.” And no one would mind – certainly not this late in the game.
Alexia’s expedition becomes s so rich in adventurous richly detailed events that I felt I had been underway for weeks – not just the three days for the 60 kilometers from Clergy to Chaumond - a distortion of my sense of time which might be yet one more of Handke’s customary head games – defamiliarization - that he has been playing, differently each time, since OFFENDING, especially in The Ride Across Lake Constance [fn] and THE REPETITION –
As her creator’s magnificently observant eyes and ears during his exploration of a stretch of the French country side, Alexia only rarely engages in incidental filching of fruit her three day trek - once she takes over for Handke the NO-MAN’S-BAY narrator - familiarizes the reader so intimately with the Picardie – the three towns Clergy-Pointoise, Char and Chaumond and the river Voisne and the Vexin plateau that I suspect future admirers will want to retrace these footsteps - just as current admirers have followed Filip Kobal’s itinerary as he traverses the Karst/Caro in Austro-Slovenian The Repetition./

Alexia at one point is said to be on her expedition looking for her mother – why the Bankieress of all people might be lost like that lost cat in these wilds is an issue that is never explained, it makes no sense. Alexia smells her perfume in the tiny chambre that she spends a saintly night in at the Auberge Dieppe, but then it turns out that the object of her expedition was a family get together at the end of her trip in Chaumont sur Oesne – no mention of anything of the kind throughout and why that arduous adventure preceding a family get together?
It seems to me that all this contradictory family material seems to have been made up along the way as Handke was writing and felt that Alexia needed some kind of novelistic architecture which I regard as entirely superfluous but for one instance where Alexia receives the kind of a paternal advice that Handke might have addressed to his own daughter and of which he is making fine fun here as a persiflage. A few times, then, Alexia references something her father said. But that is that.
Alexia is given a brother ten years her junior, she calls him a few time, it turns out he works at her final destination Chaumond sure Oesne as a carpenter’s  apprentice,  and his profession affords Handke the opportunity to once again sing that craft’s praises, which I - once upon graduation, and at Breadloaf Writers on the weekends and nights, worked as a union tile [Pollacks!] and {Wops] marble worker’s apprentice - entirely share. But there was absolutely no need in this wonderful epic jaunt through the Picardie to equip Handke’s surrogate eyes and ears with a family of any kind. Or to leave this material in badly and contradictory fashion lying around like woodcuttings at workbench that was not cleaned up. Was the book in that respect meant to be left a bit “dirty?” - For all I know that may be intentional – the book is an assemblage – not just an adventure story with some brilliantly recounted adventures, but all kinds of small essays .
Are his editors and first readers frightened of the fellow who I was appalled to read recently gave his old-time Austrian editor Jung a tongue lashing? [fn] - But I think I am wrong and Handke knows that the reviewers need a simple hook for their work, a simple motivation, most of them mention that the object is a family get-together or the search for the Bankieress mother - and not the “dark day of the soul” that Alexia suffers and its reference to Handke’s THE GREAT FALL, not that amazing near unending reprieve of the end of WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES with its even grimmer sayings such as “be enamored of your despair.” [When will someone write a great dissertation on the influence of that great play on Handke’s work for nigh forty years, how it keeps efflorescing?]
 End of some very minor caviling on a book that I am reading like a Peter Handke book - but where I praise as highly as I do here, and I know the fellow knows how to dissemble and play games and is self-indulgent as hell and I love nearly every minute of it.

The way the narrative is set up – “that’s the way the tale wants “-and with the author’s admission at the end that he cannot imagine a story where the story teller does not admit of his telling, that no story “tells itself” [but he would agree that dreams do I imagine?]-  he could have just said, say, after leaving Clergy-Pointoise “I am now going to use my medium Alexia, for 1 she is nimbler for such a long trek, and, secondly, that way I can write all kinds of little essays about what transpires.”  But I find it odd indeed that the two nights of her expedition are spent, interestingly in both cases, in different inns, and I wonder whether Handke ever sleeps - during his many country walks - say, under the Hawthorne tree on an August moon, whether at the Bering sea he slept in an igloo? – I note his many interestingly described hotel stays, including one in the Kosovo, but wonder how hardy a vagabond he is while conceding that the likes of Handke and the Norman Mailer of Why Are We in Vietnam, can absorb, say, the wildflowers in the Brooks Range, in a day that take me a week to incorporate.       
Alexia’s expedition becomes also a pilgrimage with ordeals and not so much resembles anything that Willehalm might have experienced but someone seeking sainthood. -  Alexia, the twin sister of our old familiar St. Alexius Under the Stairs 


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.

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MICHAEL ROLOFF http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name exMember 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