HANDKE MATERIAL ON THE WEB: [the American Scholar caused controversy about Handke, reviews, detailed of Coury/ Pilipp's THE WORKS OF PETER HANDKE, the psycho-bio

Thursday, October 28, 2010


- Liebe Drs.Stocker & Raubacher & Mikl & Aichinger, et al,

Ich möchte mich bei Ihnen erkundigen ob die Möglichkeit besteht ein Handke's Symposium in der USA zu unterstützen,und zwar so dass es wahrlich des Dichters und seinem jetzt hinkenden Empfang in der Englischsprachigen Welt entsprechend groß aufgezogen wird, also nicht nur in den kleinkariertenBereichen der Germanistik verbleibt [vide Fußnote].

Ich kenne den Burschen seit seinem Auftritt in Princeton in 1066, das Werk ist groß, wie bei uns allen hinkt es manchmal
an der Person an dem mehr als allzu Affenhaften!
Nachdem ich für Handke seinen Amerikanischen Verlag gefunden und ihn übersetze kam es so, dass er michdann wirklich zu interessieren anfing als ich mich psychoanalytisch in Los Angeles schulte... und sein groesstes
Werk UEBER DIE DOERFER unter ganz besonders stuermischen Umstaenden uebersetz hatte... und jetzt habe ich Verbindung mit vielen Handke

What makes Handke's work important for me and raises it out of the above-mentioned confines is thatit renovates the great tradition of prose writing,Goethe, Stifer, Eichendorf in the German realm, Flaubert, Robbe-Grillet, in English Hardy, Virginia Woolfe, the Joyce of Dubliners, and introduces the filmic element as only a progressive genius could who needed to make contact in that fashion, writing in dream syntax, the grammar of the primary system to put it in Freudian/ Lacanian terms...
and to do so as a virtuous ... as though he was Franz Lizt... I sure didn't think my fifth Beatle was that much of a genius. Handke interest the once Brechtian me because he has completed Brecht's work of creating an anti-Aristotelian catharsis, subliminally, sleight of hand man that he is, in works such as THE RIDE ACROSS LAKE CONSTANCE and THE HOUR WE KNEW NOTHING ABOUT EACH OTHER... thus such a symposium might have one of his great
as yet unpremiered in English plays - THE ART OF ASKING,[whose translation needs serious revision], or Scott Abbott's first rate translation of VOYAGE BY DUGOUT:
THE PLAY ABOUT THE FILM ABOUT THE WAR as a central focus, or, since to organize such an event takes a few years, perhaps his it appears marvelous STILL STORM will have found the proper translator by then.

Zeljko Djukic did a first rate performance of HOUR at his Tutato Theater in Chicago - he is aware of the expense of hiring actors adequate for THE ART OF ASKING. Steve Pearson
did a first rate HOUR at the University of Washington's  School of Drama in the mid 90s; he is now in charge of the theater program at the University of South Carolina.

Seattle and its University would not be a good venue for such a symposium I am afraid. As a visiting scholar for ten years I was unable to drum up interest, even from someone who claimed
to be a Stifter specialist; Herbert Blau who was associated with Jules Irving when RIDE ACROSS LAKE CONSTANCE premiered at Lincoln Center in 1971 had not interest in discussing with
me my rakes progress. When I tried to organize a Handke theater festival toward the late 90s with some left over Handke theater people from the now defunct EMPTY SPACE THEATER, and the
Austrians promised to support this venture to a very considerable hilt, the still chair of the theater department, Sarah Nash Gates,
behind our backs, killed the project - provincialism and philistinism and all its
pettinesses prevail among the local banana slugs. Kurt Beattie now head of A CONTEMPORARY THEATER here, Seattle's own Kaspar, at EMPTY SPACE, made a lot of promises and overtures - these  have come to nothing; so did Richard White's promise at Cornish to seriously consider VOYAGE BY DUGOUT - HE was too busy giving away arts funds for matters that are never heard or seen outside these precincts.

Thus Chicago might be an interesting venue. Yale did Handke'sTHEY ARE DYING OUT in 1979 but have not worked their way into doing far greater work since.

A symposium such as this will also produce an interesting volume of essays that someone might want to publish.
Lots of marvelous Handke's things have not been done by his mediocre US publisher, Farrar, Straus and Giroux -
which actually is now owned by Holzbrinck!

Wenn Sie mein Resümee betrachten erscheine ich Ihnen vielleicht als Wahloestreicher -  weil ich einige Jahre in  einem alten Kloster in Vornbach am Inn in wahrlich Stifterischen Witikow Zuständen versteckt überlebte
- 1942-1944 - während die Eltern als Wiederstaendler
mit der Gestapo zu tun hatten]

Hoping for serious consideration and the start of a conversation
I remain very truly yours, 



> Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society

> This LYNX will LEAP you to my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS
>  The Hubs, the Navel to Todos Handke!

Monday, October 25, 2010


Dear Jonathan Galassi,

To summarize my findings on the publication
history of Handke in this country,
as I am winding down my 25 year + Handke project.

The idea of a Handke Reader, to make up for the mediocre way he has been published, has found all around approval.
Suggested introducers have been made.

If you seriously entertain such a project
I suggest you also consult first rate Handke scholars whom I cc herewith:
Fabjan Haffner, also in charge of Musil Institute in Klagenfurt, and author of a wonderful book on Handke's, how shall I put it, "Dalmatian" side; Karl Wagner in Zurich whose collection of writings on Handke have just been published; Hans Hoeller [whose marvelous piece on Handke's THE CUCKOOS OF VELICE HOCA I will send you]; Georg Pichler whose piece on Goethe and Handke  I have on the scholar site. That way you will be in very sound hands. David Coury, Frank Pillip who edited a volume of essays on Handke's work
for Ariadne Press are not complete idiots.

I reiterate my extreme unhappiness with your decision to pass on Handke' KALI [The Saltworks] on the basis of Krishna Winston's
ignorant and megalomaniac advice. Krishna came in on the death of Ralph Mannheim with the translation of the third of the THREE
ASSAYINGS [as I call them], she did not know of Handke as of Adam until then, and has not troubled to read what came before; even
if she had, her opinion that in KALI Handke is repeating himself, is utterly off the wall. First of all, Handke NEVER repeats himself,
it is one of his pride of prides! And KALI is one of his MOST DIFFERENT prose works - if only in that it has TWO CHARACTERS, that is, it is not a book in which he devises a personae  for his consciousness, or if he does in a very different fashion; artistically it is a kind of filmed opera,and in its exploration of the salt mine it is fascinating on that level; and is also a great act of narration.
 Thus, to take recourse to a translator albeit a professor of German for an evaluation of a text such as this, far more perfect formally than MORAWIAN NIGHT, smacks of the same old
amateur time that prevailed when I set out at FSG in 1966, very green behind the ears, no more now. And Krishna wants some time off from translating... and meanwhile thinks she
is the only one. Alas.

Something else that occurs is that a Paris Review interview with Handke on his prose would certainly bring the so severely dropped ball a bit back up in an area where Handke needs to be
discussed. I suggest James Woods for this, in tandem with perhaps the Handke friend and translator Scott Abbot, who is a professor
at Utah, and adventurously inclined to have re-walked Handke's  tour in THE REPETITION, and along on one of those famous Yugoslav
jaunts of Handke's and close friend with his Serbian translator.
Two interviewers as in two detectives etc. are better, and I noticed that Klaus Kastberger & Elisabeth Schwaegerle did a better job
than usual in their interview for the Klastberger edited volume of essay and primary material FREIHEIT DES SCHREIBENS, devoted to Handke, that Zsolnay put out this year. Another possibility is also the fine novelist James Krusoe, who knows Handke's work and has a drift on how and why it works.

Such an interview, focusing on Handke's achievements and innovations in prose is worth doing, if only since prose writers on the order
of Goethe, Stifter, Flaubert do not come around all that often.

Let us all recall Roger Straus' early letter to Siegfried Unseld where he says he has a problem called Handke. That was after Handke had been
collected into Two and Three by Handke and done by Avon and Collier Books, after the New Yorker had run THE LEFT HANDED WOMAN in its entirety, and a huge edited excerpt from THE REPETITION....but FSG waited about 10 years before publishing the successor novel A SLOW HOME COMING, and in tandem with two autobiographical text, confusing the'
reception and readers, say like that heavy headed mind, Kunkel.

And passed on the centrally important WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES and all the other great plays, far greater and more or at least equally important than what had come before, KASPAR AND OTHER PLAYS, [Steve Wasserman, who then was in charge of Hill & Wang/ Noonday Books shares some of the blame, or is it the quarterly return to whose ravages...] went through a couple of dozen editions; RIDE ACROSS LAKE CONSTANCE + OTHER PLAYS sold out, not reprinted. Despite the success of WEIGHT OF THE WORLD, FSG passed on its successor volume THE HISTORY OF THE PENCIL that might have alerted Handke's audience and the occasional half awake reviewer how Handke worked and planned as an artist. Meanwhile Scott Abbott's first rate translation of VOYAGE BY DUGOUT: THE PLAY ABOUT THE FILM ABOUT THE WAR still has not a publisher in this country; nor have I been able to find a university press to do a fairly
complete edition of Handke's "Dalmatian" texts - so that that long episode can be taken out of the rumor mill of this forever dark age. Seagull/U. of Chicago is doing Handke's  UNTIL THE DAY US PART, his parallel text to Beckett's KRAPP'S LAST TAPE, meanwhile all the money mongering and all the uglinessess that prevail among humans are still with us.
Anyhow, I have had my say and that is all I can do.Hoping that you had a successful Frankfurt Book Fair.
Truly yours


Sunday, October 3, 2010

Easing out of, Winding down the 25 year plus year engagement with Handke's work.

Easing out of,
Winding down
the 25 year plus year young Handke Project…a saga nearing its end…a round-up of sorts… musings… ruminations… a final ramble!

For Karl Heinz Braun, Marie Colbin, myself, and I imagine for Klaus Peyman, too, now… and les autres……

Names  cited in this communication: Marie Colbin, in extenso, Erich Wolfgang Skwara =in extenso , Hans Hoeller, Karl Wagner, Raimund Fellinger, Peter Hamm, Michael DiCapua=in extenso, Roger Straus, Steve Wasserman, Edmund Caldwell, H.M. Enzensberger= in extenso, Günter Grass, Uwe Johnson, Peter Weiss, Hans Werner Richter, Jürgen Becker, Lothar Struck= =in extenso , Sophie Semin, Libgart Schwartz, J.,  Fredi Kolleritch, Fabjan Haffner, Elisabeth Schwaegerle, Klaus Kastberger,   Tom Barry, Scott Abbot, J. Brokhoff , Heinrich Detering, David Coury, Frank Pillip, Donald Daviau, Neil Gordon= in extenso, William Gass, Robert Silvers, Oh Tannenbaum, Jim Krusoe, Dennis "The Mutton" Dutton, Robert Wilson [editor of American Scholar], Michael McDonald,[of The Amurrican Interest], Krishna Winston, Siegrid Loeffler, J.l. Marcus, Hubert Burda, Siegfried Unseld,  Mr. and Mrs. Milosevic, etc.

“The world is discoverer.” WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES, Peter Handke

What would I have done without Handke’s work, Handke my “tit-bird,” my passerine, the past 20 some years it occurs to me as I try to summarize the involvement in such a huge body of work? To some extent with the author himself. Traveling the Handke high and byways… from trembling heights to the most horrific, gold leaf… and dung beetles reviewers… [ ";mais une marée de merde en bat les murs, à la faire crouler."]
Little could I have imagined, even if I’d thought in those terms, that in May 1966, in Princeton, I would behold a kid looking like a fifth Beatle destined to become an Austrian postage stamp in his life time:
The now count von und zu Griffen whom I encountered while trying, successfully I might say, to get out of those reaches, except of course linguistically where the more the better, both high and low.
And now easing out of a twenty some year involvement in writing about it, championing it, criticizing it too, decimating swinish reviewers, linking up with some wonderful scholars, with at least one more play to read and the recent Nachtbuch [jottings of the first thoughts as you wake up at night, one finger still in the forever dream dialogue world:

[„Am Ende werde ich etwas sagen, ein bißchen“
[At the end I’ll say something, a bit.]

Manchmal, wenn man redet, redet man immer weiter“ [Sometimes when one talks one goes on talking.]

„Die Woche über spielen sie Ping-Pong, am Samstag spielen sie Pong-Ping.“ – „Ja, die Wespen leben in Ketten“
[During the week they play ping-pong, on Saturda the play ping pong. 
‘Yes, the wasps live as a series of chains.]

„Sind Sie der, der hinter der grauen Holzhütte mir ein Gedicht vorgetragen hat?“
[Are you the person who recited a poem to me behind the grey wooden hut.]

„Der Papst weiß sicher, daß er verdammt ist“ [The Pope must know that he is damned.“
„Die Kinder haben sich über ihn lustig gemacht, aber nicht zu sehr“ [The children made fun of him, but not too much.]
„P. H. im Neunten Land?“ – „Neunmal kennt er das Land nicht“ [P.H. in the Ninth Land?“
„He does’t know the land mine times.] The reference is to Handke’s book “Farewell to the Dream of the Ninth Land” – the land of peace – his reaction to Slovenia’s becoming an independent country.

an enterprise it must take considerable grandiosity to peddle, excerpts from the dialog forever on-going interiorarity, albeit here the foam of the unconscious, and do so without elaborating the fantasy or dream underlying.  I.e. from the excerpt that Jung & Jung has posted as a teaser it does not appear that our genius spouts genius brilliances as the first thing on waking. Reading 500 of them may of course reveal a pattern. 50 dreams of Handke’s would have been a lot more interesting! And analyzed by the man who can write in dream syntax and images if need be! Lothar Struck who has gone a bit soft in the noodle [see the end for an elaboration of this statement] reading so much Handke has an appreciative review of this trivia at Glanz & Elend which I have also put on the page devoted to the Nachtbuch at:

And no doubt there will at least be one other narrative of whatever order of difficulty – the 25 k Don Juan, the Handke book most recently published in the United States, as they say, “hat es in sich,” which means it got only stupid reviews… and I have one more ramble to write, on Handke’s poetics. Handke is no esthete but he certainly has an aesthetic. In the Kastberger/ Schwägerle interview in the Kastberger edited collection of mostly first rate essays and fascinating primary material Freiheit des Schreibens [Zsolnay, 2110] Handke says he does not have a poetics. He articulates his poetics in their sufficiency in the 1981 Walk About the Villages. Perhaps Handke forgot, Handke is quite good at forgetting, just the way he is at turning guilt feelings off, or perhaps he was waiting whether the interviewers might remember Villages as I haven’t come on a one scholar that notes its influence on the work that follows… as far and recently as the 2003 Del Gredos. I am not planning to check to what degree if any Handke hoes to these poetics, but am interested in the change in narrative procedure from 1964 Hornissen to the present, perhaps I will come up with something. But that would seem to be it, yes there will also be an assaying on what I call “the psychoanalysis of reading,” which would be inconceivable without having looked closely at Handke’s prose, its entrancing capacities… and then to go on  servicing the blogs and the scriptmania sites:

having one page devoted to each title at the
and to each play at the
and the endless trivia which pours from the star’s publicity machine:

I have the load of another life-time’s work left… am being granted only half of one even though I am just growing another set of teeth.  

Let me say right off that I could not have imagined that Handke might write anything as magnificent as some of the prose works, both short and long, and the plays he did after his richest work, the last of which of his I had the fortune to translate [no matter that Villages then became a most interesting kind of Albatross and all around heart test, failures nearly all around], the 1981 WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES… which also mattered a lot to Handke so that the correspondence over that piece, and the way Handke made suggestions to my wrestling match with the text also proves the only interesting part of our correspondence [see the postscript to the Ariadne Books edition which quotes the relevant passages]. I had thought one might stop with that… I certainly hoped that it would be my “swan song” to translating, but then some things were offered that I liked, say the work of Josef Winkler.
Among the works subsequent to Villages, each masterly in its own way, but none as rich sometimes so in a different way, I number The Repetition [1986], The Afternoon of a Writer [1987], the 1988 Absence film as novel as film rewrite of Parsifal that introduced the filmic element into prose writing - an underlying filmic feature which again becomes prominently experiencable by the good, that is a reader in the 2003 Crossing the Sierra Del Gredos [the protagonist, bankieress, like her author, constantly sees herself as actress in a film] thus enabling the kind of manifest precision between reader and text that occasionally transpires in the dream screen dyad analyst analysand, fantasies meshing, in a to and fro; and the 1984 novel that set me off on this trek, Der Chinese des Schmerzens which ever so unfortunately is titled Across in English, instead of, say, The Chinese of the Water Torture. That Handke would write not only in dream images [Afternoon of a Writer] but in dream syntax in the 1995 One Dark Night I left my Silent House… [Edmond Caldwell also has an interesting note on what he, in analogy, calls “the Handke effect” at:
is perhaps not all that surprising coming on the heels of brilliant innerworld outerworld projection screen beginnings and knowledge of how deep syntax works [1]. One way or the other, Handke remains a verbally, textually activist author. It would be quite something to organize a year  long course just around Handke’s work, going back to Thucydides, Euripides, Aeschylus and working your way up the present in hopscotch back and forth kind of way.

Anyhoo, these kinds of writerly communicative matters I have mulled since my early days as a kind of Joycean Jamesian who still thinks James’ prefaces to his novels are the best things that have ever been written on that subject…
and it is for these innovations, for the sake of the logos and what Handke has contributed to it that he deserves the Nobel, the availing of new utensils, the ability to communicate inner states, spell the reader into reading. Virginia Wool I imagine might not commit suicide if she had those means at her disposal. As a person, scarcely. Unfortunately. You’d have to extirpate the “Bruno Handke” part, that metempsychosis that possesses him, too.

Subsequent the just cited achievements comes a more serious change than the prior actually rather gradual one from works such as Der Hausierer 1967 [“The Panhandler,” as it might be called in English, it exists in some Romance languages], Short Letter long Farewell 1971, Goalie’s Anxiety 1969 and A Moment of True Feeling [1971] to Left-Handed Woman 1974 and A Slow Homecoming [1978], the latter two belonging very much together in their mood of withdrawal and direct turn toward the mytho-poeic. As I just wrote Karl Wagner: “aber ich lass mir doch nicht das ‚Sein’ noch ‚die Natur’ von Heidegger verderben.“ Ernst Bloch said something similar about the Left’s leaving nature to the Nazis.
 One of Handke’s published notebook excerpts, Fantasien der Wiederholung, 1988 – Wiederholung does not just mean to repeat but to retrieve – announces this more important change, departure; and with respect of these kind of pronunciamentos Handke can be trusted not to be too fickle. [Udderwise, the fellow who berates “facts people”   on the occasion of Suhrkamp Verlag’s – his chief publisher’s - move there from Frankfurt, proclaimed, just the other month in Berlin, “facts win!” Handke wins, it’s a fact!
First results from this change from over-reliance on impressionist phenomenological serial notation and extremely well-crafted prose - to different narrative procedures – if Across [1984] and The Repetition [1986, the counter-part to the 1972 Sorrow beyond Dreams] aren’t already way signs toward that change - are the late 80s early 90s assayings of Tiredness, the Juke Box and The Day that Went Well: circling and interrogating his subjects, incorporating the settings where they are composed [something done incidentally by many writers is here as a compositional principle]. Getting his feet wet in a new mode, Handke quickly mastered it to his usual virtuoso capacities: Day. “The line of beauty” – isn’t it really the line of the breast? The new tack eventuates in that great weaving of the six sides of his artistry on the canvas-ground on which he then lived in the Chaville woods outside Paris, My Year in the No-Man’s-Bay [1993]. [After all, from the beginning Handke has created conscious literary works of art, the “as if” of fantasy realized as text or play, a little too real for comfort at times.] There follows the somewhat mixed bag One Dark Night I Left My Silent House [1994] – I say “mixed bag” because aside its many marvels I could well do without Handke’s recit’s on “the modern” woman or that narcissism means that at least you love yourself! Wow! Whoopeedooda! If you know your Handke texts you read of his affinity for idiots, and sometimes the autist truly is daft and not just in the Greek “everyman” sense of the word.
Unique, too, are Crossing the Sierra Del Gredos [2001], Don Juan [as told by himself] a juicy, taut rope that holds the strains of an aging conflicted sneaky Eros, both dark and light, with an easy and very playful left wishfulfilment hand [2004], and the somewhat Wagnerian – so it strikes me - Kali [2007] a kind of operatic film, that I need to reread once more, it is so strange, so different from anything that has gone before; the reportage The Cuckoos of Velica Hoca [2008] where Handke shows that he has that stuff, too, - read Hans Hoeller’s essay on Velica in Freiheit - after a lot of superfices along those lines  – that is one of the great pleasures of reading Handke, he neither bores himself nor his readers by repeating himself, he explores the formal possibilities of a way of doing things, develops -   altogether, the whelming distinctive works prove a consternation to no end of lazy moron reviewers who cannot even describe a book as they try to peg it for their pittances.   
Some of the most extraordinary writing Handke has done is in the 2005 novel Moravian Nights – at a few moments, around its tunnel section, this seismograph felt the earth tremble within the act of reading classical prose, a first for me, a book that yet I find both formally and morally dubious [See “Tough Love for Peter Handke”
morally dreadful for its lying way to dispose of Marie Colbin’s charge that has been facing him all these years [2], formally since, overall, it does not live up to his own previously demonstrated abilities, and I am someone who is quite willing to assess Handke within his own terms, unless to be sort of Larry Rivers sketchy on such a big canvas is something he had in mind: I find no evidence of such an idea, which doesn’t mean that I am not missing something. Moravian is basically a big hotch-potch loosely held together; a kind of ramble such as this; if it weaves it does so by happenstance; some sections such as the defense for beating the bejesus out of Marie Colbin or one the Congress on Noise are formalized to the fare-the-well, others are paltry, one in Cordula/ Split, where Handke wrote his first novel, in 1964, Die Hornissen/ Los Avispones/ The Hornets t’would be in English] and where it appears he abandoned his first girl friend, and with child, creating a bastard as his own father did creating him, who however took care to stay in touch with the mother Maria Sivec, which old G.F now haunts him, an old crone, this section is stupendously well rendered, realized, visually, dramatically… past and present merging, very filmic too… El Greco, Dostoyevsky come to mind… The section of a trip to the Kosovo and the bus driver’s fury in the form of his iterating the song Apache and you become part of the throb of deep dark fury.  – But, as I wrote one of his two editors, Raimund Fellinger, at Suhrkamp Verlag, the other is the critic Peter Hamm, it wouldn’t be such a bad thing if the model in the novel for the house-boat hotel, the hotel boat “Luna” on the Morawa River in deepest darkest south-east Serbia, on which Morawian Nights is allegedly told, if the “Hotel Luna/ Morawa” unloosed during a Spring flood from amongst the reeds where it is tethered and washed into the Danube and down into the Black Sea – ample time to bring a few sections and the whole up to Handke’s usual snuff – and we can have Marie Colbin running alongside on the shore and have her get stuck in a moor! - But what an overall continuous performance! Since early on! As an analyst I would posit since earliest bed time days in Berlin early winter 1944 !

And then there are the plays: The Hour We knew Nothing of Each Other, the summa of every aspect of his early dramatic work [I know I am right in thinking of Handke as a kind of Schubert who found himself in the world of words], the second time – the first is Ride Across Lake Constance, the ultimate inversion of a boulevard piece - that he cleans out an audience’s clock and makes them see the world anew as does his verbal magicking in the Sierra del Gredos novel; 

the great 1987 Art of Asking not yet done - I nearly say of course - in that desert the Unites States of self-involved Philistines and clothes horses and miserable artistic directors, that disneyfied garbage pit, what would Joyce put into Leopold Blooms stream of consciousness these days is a thought I have entertained; biggest island on the earth no matter all that globalization. The 1991 Voyage by Dugout: The Play about the Film about the War, which finally exists in a fine translation by Scott Abbott, too, is crying for a performance;  the 2008 Till the Day that Parts Us is about to be published by Seagull/ University of Chicago Press. Not that some of the less successful work, say The Essay on Tiredness or the play Preparations for Immortality - it starts off like gangbusters but its formalism quickly and oddly turns hollow, like Phillip Glass - or the plays Traces of the Lost, which strikes me, who has only read it several times, as a redo of Hour, or the 2004 Subday Blues - I find it a monotonous read no matter how perfectly and incrementally-timed formally [and I find monotony in this instance of little use] - which appears to “play” well, I may be wrong because of having got used to Handke writing “Lese Dramen,” [dramas just to be read], these would be stellar works by others who do not set their own expectations as high as our versatile pro, Peter Handke.

I am leaving out the cumulation of diary volumes, [its inception is the 1974 Weight of the World - “for those to whom it matters” is its epigraph, and boy would it ever prove found meat for this analytic wolf! - and the 1983 Geschichte des Bleistifts, the 1988 Am Felsfenster Morgens, the 1988 Fantasien der Wiederholung, the 2001 Gestern Unterwegs, the 2100 Nachtbuch as well as the forthcoming Unterwäsche {Verbrecher Verlag, 2111] is a body of self-involved self-exhibitionism and self-discovery – with little consequence but for the work – that, if this trove can be judged at all, only in the forthcoming many years when they are compared with the now archived notebooks [whence they were sold for five hundred thousand Euros each to a German and an Austrian archive, whence these edited selections derive; by the time of the second German edition, Gewicht/ Weight had been edited down, t’was a little too much nakedness after all of the frequently hideous self, some beauty marks allowed but not the entire horror show. At any event: Scholar mice, get on your marks!
Ullrich von Buelow has a fine introduction to this material in Kastberger’s Freiheit.  

Also left out from this list is the handful of texts occasioned by Handke’s involvement in the disintegration of the 2nd Yugoslav federation. Though I obviously regard the 1999 play Voyage by Dugout and the 2008 reportage Velica Hoca among Handke’s premier works, and much like the non-travel Abschied vom Neunten Land [written on the occasion of Slovenia becoming independent in 1991, “Leavetaking from the 9th Land”] no matter in disagreeing with its perverse contra-factual argument, and find lots to like in the three travel books the 1993 Justice for Serbia, the 1994 Sommerlicher Nachtrag [A Summer’s Postscript] and the 1997 Unter Tränen Fragend [Questioning in Tears], I find wretchedly arrogant and sloppy the 2003 Rund um das Tribunal [Circling the Tribunal – in Scheveningen/ DeHague, the Yugoslav war crimes trials] and especially the 2004 Die Tablas des Damiel [The Ponds of Damiel, in southern Spain, drying out, analogously, to the now no longer federated mutually fructifying Yugoslav states] especially so coming from someone who nearly completed his Dr. Jus. in 1964 because the sought-after sinecure of Austrian cultural attaché had been obviated, Handke felt so confident as a writer after his first novel had been accepted by Suhrkamp Verlag. Not that Tribunal and Daimiel are devoid of all merit, or of interest and of all kinds of gems; the worst of course is that you realize: here is someone who made himself notorious in an odd kind of defense of the Serbians against an idiotic mass media attack – indeed the world made it so easy that he actually ought to have taken the trouble to speak the language of political economy and the psychology of identity, say, have become a Michel Chossudovsky ]
-      Handke visits Milosevic in jail, has been a friend of the family for years, has had his plays done in Belgrade, including Voyage, as he has been keeping the company of the powerful since his earliest days, from actual princes to the Caesars of Industry like Hubert Burda, Handke becomes even more infamous by attending and displaying himself at the funeral and playing mourner to the hilt as only someone who is now an actor who mouths the requisite obscenities in the Quodlibet of the World Stage can, and as someone who purports to be an expert on the disintegration of Yugoslavia [and Voyage convinces the reader that he is quite expert indeed] then refuses to testify as an expert witness for the defense, nay, even to write a simple letter!  For reasons of personal experience to which I will come, I was not all that surprised at my ultimate exhibitionist prima donna’s copping out on that score, ugh, a witness at such a trial is pretty well boxed in, he cannot come and go as he pleases; he is in the cross fire; that would be a bit too much of the sought after lime light, it would singe the wings of the fink.  As Erich Wolfgang Skwara [the “Don Juan” who appears “with the same woman” in No-Man’s-Bay], a wonderful tattle-tale, once said to me, in the early 90s, while we both expressed our confidence that the genius would bring off that great weaving performance: “Let’s see what he’s up to now.” – It was walking arm in arm with Umberto Ecco at the Frankfurt Bookfair on publication of that wonderful book. - Something you can count on is Handke popping off to the media, whose darling for copy he has been since his earliest days, when a possible competitor for the limelight is in the news. The latest of this, as of this writing, September 2010, our careerist calls fellow Austrian novelist Grstein… “a careerist.” I actually am no longer all that annoyed, but like a patient dog owner who laughs or shrugs at a spouse’s tick. Moreover, these proclamation are made, as of old, under a righteous aegis, no matter that Handke in Die Tablas des Daimiel even makes fun of how in the court of night conscience he manages no matter to come out ahead, and uses Ivo Andric’s: Mistakes by others that highlight equivalent errors of our own precipitate a moral disappointment that permits us to assume the strict and noble stance of both judge and victim and gives rise to an inner state of moral euphoria. This euphoria distances us swiftly and surely from the process of personal moral perfection and makes of us terrible and merciless and even bloodthirsty judges. Signs by the Wayside as an epitaph to Voyage by  Dugout, but subsequent to writing Daimiel quickly berated Günter Grass for allowing himself to be inducted into the Waffen SS at age 17 [a well known matter already in the 60s, may the day come that your volunteering for the Marines or the Special Forces of all kind acquire that kind of iconic obloquy] because “everyone knew what the Waffen SS” was, to which I once said and will say again: “and at age 30 one knows not to smack one’s two year old crying daughter’s head if one is in irritated rage because there is a flood in the basement and she is bawling, rape one’s supposed friend’s girl friends and keep beating up women.” When Handke, asked about Enzensberger’s position on the Kosovo war, replies: “Hans Magnus Enzensberger redet wie ein Politiker und moechte die UÇK bewaffnen. Der weiss immer, wo’s lang geht, ein grinsender hoehnischer Zuschauer, der menschgewordene Hohn. Der islamische Sufi Djalâl-ud-Dîn Rûmî sagt: „Sie tragen bedruckte Seiden nicht als Ornament, sondern um ihre Schoenheit zu bewahren.  Enzensbergers Sachen sind das Gegenteil, Ornament zur Verhoehnung der Schoenheit. [Hans Magnus Enzensberger talks like a politician and would like to arm the UÇK. He is someone who always knows what side to take, a grinning, derisive observer, derision in human form. The Islamic Sufu Djalâl-ud-Dîn Rûmî says: “They wear printed silk not as an ornament but to retain their beauty.” Enzensberger’s stuff are the opposite, ornamentation to deride beauty.” then Handke, in this instance, not only manifests his extraordinary envy of a Suhrkamp compadre who displaces a bit of the limelight and is indeed an enviable essayist, but also ever so unfortunately it seems to me, a certain extreme hatred of his own compulsion to dress up like a beauteous Modepuppe since his appearance on the world stage, and who certainly has adjusted himself with the changing times; that is, such  extrojective projections smack of self-hatred, a narcisstic conflict on the deepest level [it is always good to re-read the end of The Afternoon of a Writer [1987], if you seek first hand evidence of the split, the conflict that is so productive, it manifest itself in these projections which are entirely lacking in truth-content of any other kind; and in that sense are quite naïfly, unself-consciously uttered, is my guess. Or perhaps there is even malice aforethought as in the well-prepared knife for H. M. E. As predictable as the midnight hooting of my pair of great horned owls, not as pleasant. That description of Enzensberger, however, must have been lying rehearsed on the tip of the tongue for years, it indicates a conflict within Handke about his own narcissism, and points to the grievous narcissistic wound [s] he suffered as a child. See:
for the full of this. Such projections only tell you something about the projector! Alas!

However, the public Handke is not only a better self advertiser than most others in that field; after all, there really is something to advertize, to show off, compared to say two American mama’s boys like Alan Ginsberg or Norman Mailer, by the compensatorily competitive exhibitionist, or to sulk and not show off if something has made him petulant. One very funny instance occurred a few years back when Handke had a Croatian magazine and T.V. crew to his place in Chaville. Normally Handke now takes even the closest friends immediately for a walk mushroom hunting or at least out in his garden. Without my dwelling on Handke’s plethora of symptoms I am still more than uncertain why he cannot bear to have, especially men, in a room with him, especially his room, for any length of time, whether this is due to the persistence of nausea at other bodies that he says he experienced first at the Tanzenberg seminary, or nausea in combination with other determinants. However, once a camera is present the nausea apparently is overcome by the love of self-display, and he cooked up a wonderful meal for the crew. This was also the instance where, rather touchingly he refused to believe that Dubrovnik/ Ragusa had been shelled during the wars, a matter that a quick look at You-tube will confirm. - The legions of others who are so euphoric, in Ivo Andric’s terms, stretches across the political spectrum and what a horror it was to behold, and still is, what the disintegration of Yugoslavia elicited along those lines. Lice and bedbugs with pony tails. The more ignorant the more media possessed the more righteous the more euphoric. Handke felt that the 68ters really always wanted to have a fight. My guess at the near unanimity of righteousness among a port a prêter  intellectual class that might have informed itself was the relief in not having to confront its own immense criminal glass house in which they live more or less comfortably.  

Handke’s involvement in the disintegration and my trying to sort out the reasons for it, and then the reasons of why the way that Yugoslav cookie crumbled as it did, altogether took up about a year of my life, and although I would have rather devoted it to other matters, and other matters Handkean, I must say that ultimately I am glad I did. Had it not been for his involvement I might have gone along with the media generated consensus - after all what can I or could I have done about any of it, that must be one reason why the millions tune out, that sense of over-whelming impotence - and not taken the time to really sort out why the Hutsies and the Tutsies savaged each other, and I might say with Hennery the K. of Wurstburg on the Hudson “Let them kill each other.” One question that bugs me is that if the media is allowed to be as entirely sloppy and righteous in finding devils in this dark age for the pool of hatred to attach to, why must Handke be perfect in each and every instance, why is it dangerous – to whom – if he might be a bit parti pris? The unending low level skirmishes in that area: e.g. Professor Brokhoff and the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung’s recent attempt to tie Handke to Srbrenice at the anniversary of that massacre that put that town on the map. For all this see
During the course of my puzzling out Handke’s involvement and following that parallel war “Handke versus the Media” [my first attempt at on-line nearly “real time” pursuit of a story] I had my friend, the physician Franz Angst, send Handke my first ruminations on the subject that you can now find on line at the site that collects a lot of material relating to it:

I made it a point to change one citation from Handke’s texts to make it appear as though he were taking sides against one of the tribes, to test whether he had actually read the text. Surprisingly he liked it, found my misinterpretation, nonetheless if my effort didn’t elicit one of Handke’s usual insults! Yup, I’d caught the guy, and he can’ handle being caught out, the man who said that as soon as he is caught he lies, honest in that respect at least.
Nonetheless, I continue to be puzzled: in 1987 I was appreciating the immense effort Handke had made to install his Slovenian grandfather as a father figure, to acquire a Slovenian identity to displace the hated German Bruno Handke Stepfather experienced as father, the preparation of his own Slovenian-German dictionary, learning the language well enough to be able to translate from it, and I am someone who can really appreciate the great intra-psychic effort that that entails, laboraverimus! And what if he had done so while also being with a good enough psycho-analyst? After all, the trouble with most analyzands seems to be that they do not work. They either remain attached and passive or go from shrink to shrink, and many turn into bullshit artists of the worst kind, or believers in one or the other father or mother figures of the discipline, disciples, the earliest disciples really were useful, Freud’s, but no more are are needed.
 “Travailler come un bête!” However, within the last decade Handke has become a Serbian nationalist, with a piece of Serbian land, is awarded the Kosovo’s St. Lazarus prize! Is holding hands with the ultra-nationalist candidate for president, says that “if I who have never voted were allowed to vote in this election I would vote for Nikolaic.” With all the other prizes and the many showy trips to that region and to the Kosovo we then did not have the time to receive that particular one in person. I was really looking forward to that photo – Handke holding the Cross of St. Lazarus with a blackbird perched on top of it! Perhaps it’s just orneriness. You can take the kid of Carinthia, but you can’t get the Carinthian out of him?


Had Handke not gotten off in London on his trip to Scotland in 1987 thus missing the continuation of the flight, been one of the dead of Lockerbie, is a reminder of what such a life cut short would have meant, let us also bethink Walter Benjamin’s 1941 suicide and the death of all those talents whose lives were snuffed by the Nazis and Stalin and their everywhere successors. In the event of Handke being mourned as one of the victims of Lockerbie I would certainly have written the several essays on what became involved in translating his early plays and how much of myself became involved in translating Walk About the Villages during critical, heightened circumstances in the early 80s. See
for that and for some great essays by Fabjan Haffner and Elisabeth Schwägerle on that wonderful subject - and I would certainly have written my “case history” of Handke since, as timing would have it, I was reading the 1984 Chinese des Schmerzens [Across, 1987], the year of its American publication, and I would have been alerted to Handke’s “caseness” as he describes its protagonist ‘Loser’, “a case” – how great or interesting and complicated and unusual a “Wounded Love Child” case I could not have imagined

what an education tracking down his profusion of symptoms provided!, a plethora, to explore: the after -effects of the long term exposure to violent primal scenes; a few weeks on what might produce Handke’s occasional color blindness; all his nausea’s including of the eye balls; eventually an exploration of the whole spectrum of autism; all this in combination with being his depressive mother’s love child: perhaps writing all the time is the chief symptom??? That would be incredible: a symptom seeking to cure itself? Actually that makes sense! Since he is the master of his realm then, moreover writing has calmed his anxiety from early on, it worked until his panic attacks subsequent to being left by his wife; thereafter, he also needed valium, everything that is regarded as “die Wende”, the big change can be attributed perhaps valerian?
Tilman Moser in his essay on Handke’s 1973 A Moment of True Feeling in Romane Als Krankheitsgeschichten [Novels as Case Histories – 1975] certainly failed to tease out the origins of Handke’s problematics, didn’t even discover why the protagonist Keuschnig was so distraught, remains puzzled, wants to help, much less delved into Handke’s past to at least speculate on possible connections or avail himself of the “process notes” as which Handke’s spontaneous notations in the 1974 Weight of the World can be regarded. Doing so myself for that monograph I found sufficient reasons for my deep ambivalence about Handke as a person, it didn’t really require Wim Wenders’s telling me that Handke invariably hurts those closest to him, reading Weight of the World suffices:[Amina Handke appears at the father’s side and wants to go potty: Handke notes that he then merely waited for what would happen then. Which might be what? Certainly it was utterly predictable to the father that she would soil herself and feel hideous!] You must have seen how intimidated that child was by age 6 to appreciate the wages of such fatherly mothering. A three month old Amina Handke was first shown to me in Spring 1969 or 1970 in Berlin, and I thought it was perfectly normal for a father to show his translator his daughter before we headed out from his dank newspaper piles filled  Prince’s apartment on the Uhland Strasse to the Ku-Dam to discuss the translation, subsequently you are then glad not to have been one of the revolutionaries who came calling on Handke who lacked the interest to look at a child [See: A Child’s Story]. I can look and go gaga  with babies for hours on end! Women who berate Handke for his educational methods are derided! And this is the man who then in another half dozen years or so will compose the “Song of the Child” “When the child was a child” that exists in several dozen languages now; and a link to which my Google spiders bring me at least once sometimes twice a day. “Der hat gut schreiben!” It must have been in 1974 that Handke gave me Als das Wuenschen noch geholfen hat, the book that contains the three long fugueing poems in the American Nonsense and Happiness. I started to scratch away at a translation at the Luxembourg airport, I was flying Air Icelandic, and not only because it was the cheapest flight, and doing so got an inkling of a troubled being, but did not conceptualize what troubled Handke in all the books of that period until I became seriously interested in psychoanalysis.

Or: he is one great copy writer! Handke not only deserves the Nobel Prize but also the United Copy Writers of the World Association Prize! In the later seventies he wrote me a few things that have stuck in the mind: “I am nothing but a writer.” – And: “I am capable of achieving any effect I want as a writer.” Coming from a composer whom you know to be a genius such statements would be comparatively unexceptional, coming from such a one who is a writer they are more memorable, put the watchman on the alert.
In the early 90s I hear from Erich Skwara that Handke is berating himself for the treatment of his first daughter, writing after all was easy, meanwhile he had had a second daughter, instead of the wished for son, but for once psychological-minded, foretell in No-Man’s-Bay how grievously Oedipal that relation would have been.
The timing is about right: in about 20 years certain matters dawn on Peter Handke who is not known as a Trottel. In the early 80s I receive a letter saying “thank you thank you thank you” … for the work I did in the 60s introducing his work into the US against opposition within the firm that took him on, on the part of one little stiletto man by the name of Michael DiCapua, meanwhile [then] I’ve pretty well forgotten all about these labors and also about Handke’s utterly boorish behavior when he and his buddy Kolleritsch and wife to be about disparu Libgart Schwartz appeared in New York in 1971 as a piece of Austrian cultured representatives on a 21 cities in 28 days tour [that Handke had thought he might be fit to be a cultural attaché has always been one of the more amusing fantasies], all around tachycardia but for Handke who at once went to nearby Rizzolis to check whether any photo of his had appeared in a German magazine. In a way it is nicer to be thanked that late after the effect, so this becomes the one time I recall being thanked, it strikes me as so odd and touching and amusing. Actually, it also the only time, by any of these authors, German or American! The fine once St. Martin’s Press and University of Chicago Press editor Michael Denhenny had it right when he wrote me a few year’s back: “What we do is written on water.”
In the 2005 directly semi-autobiographical ficciones – aren’t we ever coy! – we allow our runaway second married wife to call us “cold as a salamander” “mama’s boy.” Self-understanding zilch a New Yorker would say. Personal experience of all kinds sufficed at that point in the late 90s in Seattle for Wim not to need to make his observation. The bastard son of a bastard of a stepfather, Bruno Handke, witnessing that violence prone rapist, regarded as his father figure for many years, from the age of 2 until Handke left for boarding school at age 12. See Sorrow beyond Dreams and read it closely, slowly, and for its details, the dirty tails will come alive, and on a superficial reading you would never guess that Handke followed in his stepfather’s footsteps, you would assume that he’d be a chief feminist, rather than the opposite  -  that Handke was not an entirely damaged person, if you wanted reasons, I told myself that I found those in his having been his mother’s love child, already intra-uterine, albeit suffused by her depressive state [Thanks again, Dr. Werner Schimmelbusch for that heads-up!]. However, Handke’s tragedy is that he had Bruno Handke for stepfather, for a father model whose behavior as a man towards women imprinted itself on his step-son, and at night [also take a look a the Essay on Tiredness and note how irritated, infuriated and tired Handke becomes when subjected to the cat on the hot tin roof behavior adjacent his student quarters in Graz; no doubt Baby Peter was also enraged at his mother abandoning him after he had been the exclusive lover child while she carried him to term and during his first two years extra-uterine; one manifestation of possessiveness is that he cannot bear  when one of our would-be pasha’s extra-marital lovers has another lover; how all the adolescent fatigados are traceable to over-powering anger], evidently it was Marie Sivec’s tragedy more directly, and that of Handke’s two half siblings that Bruno fathered with Maria. On the basis of Sorrow, unless your read closely, you would be astonished to find out that Handke, too, beats up women… and if further proof is needed that hating your German stepfather, as Handke ultimately acknowledged was also a form of self-hatred, that that kind of hating is in every respect useless, will not dispossess, exorcise, this would seem to be classic proof of that proposition. Although the search for father figures appeared to reach a kind of closure with the incorporation of the grandfather in The Repetition [1968] the search for literary fathers, their accumulation has certainly proved fruitful, ultimately finding grandfather ancestral figures in that realm as well – Goethe, Stifter, Flaubert, Cervantes, Dostoevsky, Grillparzer, Eichendorf, Hermann Lenz – but the envy-driven hatred of most contemporary near greats or near contemporary greats such as Grass, Enzensberger, Bert Brecht, Thomas Mann persists. Handke had the opportunity during his somewhat breakdown in Paris to avert, in the early 70s, when he saw a therapeutician [see W.O.W.] We are not responsible for having been traumatized but perhaps for not perpetuating them by subjecting those closest to us to the same traumas. Psychoanalytic trauma theory and PTS treatment are in excellent shape. Ah, the stories, the dramas I could I tell thee about myself! The children of WW II… each family with its own disintegration [s]. Fortunately, together with a kind of ineradicable nonchalance, I also inherited my grandfather’s sense of humor who was laughing again two weeks after he had been liberated from his fourth concentration camp. Old man Sivec unfortunately did not bequeath anything like that to his grandchild Peter Handke, but a stellar ability to cuss or to re-inforce the autist’s Tourettish proclivities, or Handke and I could have laughed our heads off about the time that I, on reading Across, set out on this odd venture; friends as never friends have been. Thus my ambivalence about Handke as a person became more deeply anchored and articulated. However, the genius work scarcely ever falters, the 250 k words No-Man’s Bay has a few beauty spots, and there are some dead stretches in the even longer 350 k Del Gredos, but its sustained Berg and Tal ending is worth the occasional slog and its three topes [speed bumps] or it does at least for me and a few other folks I know. What a payoff! Yes, the world is the discoverer all right, not just of swine as reviewers but of real readers along the roadside. At that ending I realized how utterly Handke loved to write, I can’t say I ever came on anything proximate in the nearly 70 years I have been reading. Lucky fellow, if he’d not been able to write in that masterly a fashion – if he’d not been able to, long prison terms for sure, for the fellow is also a Josef Bloch and the Bankieress’s terrorist brother, with three nearly epileptic fits a day and near ready to run amok at any moment; and if you read, say, Walk About the Villages, halfway closely, and are halfway awake, or perhaps know that Handke’s works are also projections of his Yoknapatawpha-sized Self, there are stretches, at least during his writing, that he seems very much aware of the dark sides of the moon - representationally if not conceptually. And I have become, occasionally, “the dark sister” to his faults and follies.


Aside the experience that the translation of Walk About the Villages provided, I cannot forget that with the 1978 Alaska Chapter of the title novel of the American volume entitled A Slow Homecoming Handke proved to be, at least for me, a totally unexpected medium of my experience of the totality of having been for nine months in the fairly pristine interior of that region, along the Yukon, working in the Brooks and Alaska ranges, the immensity of that, from which I returned with hands full of anecdotes, and a latent sense that the immensity of the whole might be articulated, but not by me, and then the Handke seismograph appeared to have done so, after just a couple visits of a few weeks each – the Handke seismograph as good as Virginia Woolf’s that knows the state of mind your are in from every letter. I could account for a lot of things and, as compared to Handke, loved to ask “when and how and why, etc.” and am fascinated by the mechanisms of the spirit, and in making such accountings, had slithered absolutely deliciously on answers for years starting in the mid-80s [“Travailler come un bête!”], but have not been able account for that whelming re-experiencing - that remained, remains mysterious, inarticulatable. - I had had that wonderful experience of a complete regression to birth in my analysis and had shed all [?] the many modes of denial, ah how wonderful: “all defenses down” [with some really interesting consequences], and knew what the appearance of a “new canvas” in a dream signified: still, Handke as seismograph via that first chapter, I, this analytically now fairly well trained critter, keeps scratching his head; that experience dates back to 1980, Vienna, I was on my way back from four weeks in Bulgaria and visited Handke on the Mönchsberg:
Perhaps it was the rich air from the rich alluvial soil, the loam that the Danube had deposited in that region, near Plodviev.  

In the St. Monica Mts. in the later 80s, I too was becoming a “king of slowness” as I walked the dusty paths in the chaparral and tread the heart of a book on Handke out of my being the way a baby cat treads on its mother teats… slowly, and grown up cats will continue to re-experience that pleasure when they think you might be their mother cat as they use your chest as a tread way, and for Handke it appears writing is the greatest pleasure, the pleasure of the paws, not only in tearing prey apart, and I fell under the influence of the rhythms, not only of the slowly pounding, long intervals – such long intervals - surf of the Pacific on the south-facing beach in Ma-li-bu [ “loud pounding surf” in Cochimi] all the way from the storms near the Antarctic, the south Pacific, and indeed felt closer to being than I had… for a long time… but of the rhythms of The Repetition, and part of the original heart of the undertaking was then accommodated in a long piece on Himmel ueber Berlin for Jim Krusoe at the St. Monica Review, whom I allowed to tamp down some of the very long periods in which I was then writing, although we then agreed, after people had such difficulty accommodating to them, that he might as well have spared himself that effort.- Thus I continue to be in some awe of Handke as a writer, how his being communicates itself to you, how he alters states of mind, of his well honed genius, the person he is when he writes, since I now know a considerable amount about the threshold state he is in and what he draws on, and how laboraverimus he is, what a virtuoso he trained himself to be as of his childhood, a terror of the whole family, L’Idiot de Griffen! Less awed by the fellow who “scratches himself at the same spots,” no not merely less so, aspects of the man as a person make me wretch. See anon unless you have already gathered enough wool.
At that time in the late 80s when I began this work, now winding down - a few plays still to consider, at least one more  prose work I expect - on reading the 1984 Chinese des Schmerzens [Across, 1987], I was surprised that though Handke appeared to have become a far better writer than in the 1973 A Moment of True Feeling, or at least a very different one, the sentences were more carefully anchored in images, better joined, carpented, he seemed to have pretty much the same unhappy consciousness, to put it into “phenomenological” terms… of the Keuschnig of the 1973 novel, murderously inclined, no longer suicidal. In sections of Across toward the end, when the protagonist-lens-personae now called Loser is in a bad way, the writing is very much in the same manner as the poems in “Nonsense & Happiness”, which I translated with great pleasure – “Life without Poetry,” after all, could be rendered most poetically! – in that section the  narrative method is not all that different from A Moment of true Feeling, and the true feeling here would seem to be the act of murder, but where it does not differ at all is when it takes recourse to the same dissociated state of mind phenomenology as in “Life without Poetry”
 As a boy when a feeling of the world overcame me I only felt the desire to WRITE something
now a poetic desire for the world usually
only occurs when I write something)…

“This fall time passed nearly without me
and my life stood as still as then
when I had felt so low
I wanted to learn to type
and waited evenings in the windowless ante-room
for the course to begin
The neon-tubes roared
and at the end of the hour
the plastic covers were pulled back over the type-writers.
I came and went and
would have not been able to say anything about myself.
I took myself so seriously that I noticed it,
I was not in despair merely discontent.
From Life without Poetry
[October/November 1972, Kronberg]

the fugeing poems of the stormy period that followed the death of his mother and being left by a highly neglected and multiply insulted wife, Libgart Schwartz, what he said was the worst thing that ever happened to him, panic attacks, hospitalization, valerian then did the trick.  Alas. “Poor baby” you might say to such a one – the once lay-abroad laid low with one fell swoop and all those broads waiting to get laid again! But would miss what understanding affords. Some folks learn their lesson from such an experience, some don’t and are merely even angrier and punish the next broad; or vice versa. Handke would have wife and live-in partner troubles forever. I am so glad I spent some time with the Touhamares later. What analysis had made clear was really driven home there.
I am just now re-reading Across, going back to the beginning of the project and I notice not only the resemblances to the distraught period of the early 70s, ten years prior, and it occurs to me if the work is “meant to be the death mask of the experience” [Walter Benjamin] why we need a second death mask, albeit one written in a less suicidal state of mind, and more carefully in the way it builds from its violent beginnings… A murderous state of mind instead of a suicidal one, quelle difference? And the “moment of true feeling” is a murderous one! However, it occurred to me on first reading already that one purpose of the book was to memorialize, patiently, the surround of Salzburg, and that certainly is well done, as Stifter would have, and it occurred to me to think when I was alerted to Handke’s taking the Stifterian turn – probably way back in 1973 when he completed They Are Dying Out and monopolist Quitt has his factotum Hans – perhaps also meant as a wonderful riff on Puntilla and his Servant Matti - read a section from Stifter’s Bergkristalle and then emotes how it would be to live in that world. Thus back to “restoration Hardware” Austrian style. And eventually the beater of women is to write: “
An den morgen
aufgewacht von dem morgenhellen Himmel
über den noch dunklen Dächern
treib aus den den Kaminen schon langsamer Rauch
Die Vögel: sine fine dicentes
Und all Liebe leben.“

Dissociation! Defense! Handke is a master of it! is I posit since early childhood days! A necessity too! Artistically this differs not at all form Stephen Deadalus using Rembrandt’s painting of an old woman paring her fingernails; dissociation, too, has a deep affinity with “the scientific method.” Analysts become trained in it, at the same time as they are to focus their empathy in a laser like manner. Handke is so good at dissociation he can string the observations into musical arrangement, after all, he is a composer at heart. At empathy not. That is what his analyst told him in Paris and he happened to agree that he was dissociated from his feelings. Then he became instead of “too cold” “too hot,” at least for a while. Across has one of Handke’s great beginnings, which book does not, “Close your eyes and…” Scotomization here we come – eventually, say by the time of Del Gredos he has realized that structural re-arrangements a la Cezanne do not suffice for his kind of realism, that the world can be made magical again at least in words. Reading the prose of Del Gredos you realize what magical realism is - old time pot heads and mushroom eaters might think that the guy had to be high to write that: they cannot imagine what coldness and love it takes the word chemist to write in a fashion that they are made high and perhaps re-experience the world as a child does. Nor is the chemist in the lab who mixes their meds on any kind of high.

Loser is an imagined character I quite realize, and I quite realize that the problem really starts when Handke tells Herbert Gamper in their mid 80s book-length interview that these books can all be unraveled [aufgerollt] from an autobiographical perspective, that the author all along has been his own material. Perhaps the problem is just one of thinking in stupid one to one identity relations, and failing to account for the transformative, compressing act [s] of the imagination. At any event, the hankering, the naïf belief in the truth of the autobiographical speaks more to the loss of a sense of reality, which may indeed have to do with the all around dissociation engendered by the “scientific attitude” and commodification and monetarization of everything.  It appears to have escaped reviewers notice what a fine Marxist the Bankieress of Del Gredos is, the Handke of They Are Dying Out who followed the sometimes very sophisticated Marxists arguments of the 60 and 70s is alive and well.


Toward the mid-80s, having a good drift on my own problematics and some ways of dealing with their consequences, the great writer did not just become his own “case” but also my great case that I then examined as is possible with someone who has been a life long pretty much “compleat exhibitionist,” a competitive compensatory one at that, since early childhood. What a profusion of denials riddles Across! That’s what got me going. Mystifications! On the basis of A Slow Homecoming and Walk about the Villages I had anticipated a changed being. He only adopts different personae, no matter that the couture, the fabric has improved! Better coloring, more solidly grounded. Handke as a writer is also a great couturier, the person remains pretty much the same, in later writing you keep running into frequent longings for a second metamorphosis, a second moment of “true feeling” perhaps… Analysts also practice gerontology is the only suggestion along that line that I have. Judging by the evidence of Moravian Night calling yourself or having an ex calling you “cold as a salamander” and “mama’s boy” is not too promising of self-understanding coming from an author now well into his 60s.
    How might matters proceed Chez Handke after we have dragged the pretty one home after we have met her on the bridge from “A Touch of Evil” or she has appeared of her own accord out of the nowhere of our daydreams, for a while we are still quite in love and even write love letters, but soon enough we are back at work, involved in our love of what we love most, another great writing project that demands utter concentration, the beloved is neglected in every which way, we emotionally withdraw, the beloved becomes confused, enraged. Moreover, on our walks and trips we encounter no end of pretty ones who can’t wait to be bedded by the famous poets,  some even become serious squeezes, meanwhile the beloved is only useful representationally, a kind of accessory. Given the first good opportunity the trophy runs away or has an affair of her own… or as in the case of Marie Colbin, starts to make scenes. Handke’s friend and the recipient of Handke’s Buechner Preis money and now editor of Die Welt’s literary pages, and quite good at that and a good writer himself, Herr Heinrich Weinzierl in reviewing Moravian Nights in its pages, alluded briefly to the there admission of having… not just beaten the shit out of but – a la la- actually having wanted to kill the pretty beasty, an admission, long in coming, about ten years that albatross has been dangling, that is then followed by the most hideous thing Handke has ever written, a formalist fare-thee-well on the why he had wanted to kill Marie Colbin, she did not leave him alone for a single second anywhere… it appears the Widrich residence in Salzburg where Handke was staying lacked housekeys? – nay, she pursues him in that book as a previous great love pursued the “German writer” did in A SHORT LETTER LONG FAREWELL, where the physical representation of pursuit is of an emotional longing. And one reason Handke certainly fled Salzburg in 1987 was Ms. Colbin who, after she had been beaten up, would show up at all his venues so that, like the writer in THE AFTERNOON OF A WRITER, the writer had to head out town a ways to a comfy pub with a good juke box and some Serbian buddies. Weinzierl’s review passes over this entire section dealing with the beating and the super-formalist compleat lie with word to the effect, a former girlfriend who interfered with his narcissistic preoccupation, whereas this is one of the main entry points into that book which, after all, as do quite a few other works of the last decade hint at a rapprochement of the wounded love child with the feminine [the end of SUBDAY BLUES, even the BEAR SKIN WOMAN in VOYAGE BY DUGOUT, most certainly the 2007 UNTIL THE DAY US PART and the end of MORAWIAN NIGHT, although  it isn’t clear whether that woman isn’t just the kind of good cook and obedient servant such as Lothar Struck would be; after all, if you really feel that women present such a danger to your work, as Morawian makes utterly clear once again especially in the section where Handke’s great predecessor dramatist Ferdinand Raimund appears and they contemplate that problem, why keep getting yourself entangled and into no end of trouble over them? The truly great short novel DON JUAN of course gives Handke’s complicated answer to the conundrum “prisoner of sex.” However, if anything has made me wretch it is when Handke is like Bruno Handke, when he beats up women and lies and is upwardly mobile. Not someone I would take into the maquis with me, although he might indeed write a good play on that theme; we shall see what the self-celebratory Still Storm [Immer Noch Sturm, 2010, Suhrkamp Verlag, to be premiered at the Salzburg Festival in 2011] and its discourse on Slovenian minority Carinthian Partisanen activities – talking about late-comers! - amounts to. A bit more on that and Handke’s abrogation of the original plans for the premier, anon.


I went back to Handke’s birth and retraced the first few times I had seen and talked to the fellow. Amazing how much material is available about a living person, thank you Herr Haslinger for writing Jugend eines Schrifstellers. At Princeton, in May 1966, sitting next to the journalist Erick Kuby, whom I had met in Hamburg in 1964 [3], it was Kuby who knew the name of the upstart who made as I would find out typical wholesale, rabble-journalist-rousing condemnation – in this instance of the texts that had been read at that meeting of the Gruppe 47. [“Why did you leave the Verlag der Autoren?” I once asked, referring to the authors’ collective, one useful offspring of all those leftist activities of the 60s. “They are fascists!” Alas. Handke did not want to be just a primus inter pares, but # Uno, and Siegfried Unseld could make him such a one.] At Princeton, on leaving the auditorium, I noticed the kind of look fleet over Handke’s face that tells you – without needing psychoanalytic training – here is someone who will “über Leichen gehen”, that kind of ambition, a recollection that is connected with the name of Max Frisch, either the figure of that Frog Prince or a book of his lying on a table. It was a look I’d seen maybe once before, and recently too then in literary quarters where shark’s blood flows freely, and it too would be confirmed, and later I would have one such as a partner in Calcutta on the Hudson, the city of thieves, whose beard and a certain fawning initially concealed his voraciousness. This recollection receded, as the one of Handke’s sadism of which I had got a good whiff at a party in New York receded, but once you have the smell down it sticks if only way in back of the nasal passages. Friend Ted Ziolkovsky [a Hesse expert], who had met Handke at Princeton, then mentioned that the fellow said, as he would also announce to the German media, that “he was the new Kafka” – never mind that K. never announced anything of the kind, but difficult to combine with this schnippisch, happy go lucky image of the Beatelish Rockstar images that the photogenically so generous exhibitionist has left behind of his 60s and 70s days: 


Let us take a look at two prize related events to check on the development of the publicity machine. About 15 years ago, after Handke had returned the Büchner to that Committee because of German support for NATO during the disintegration of Yugoslavia [as though that committee was in any way responsible] but apparently not the money [which he had given to his friend the fine Austrian writer Weinzierl], Handke said he would accept no further prizes. Meanwhile he has accepted another half dozen and turned down a half dozen. I want to focus on just two prizes, one the Thomas Mann Preis that is given by the Bavarian Academy, the other the Heine Preis of the City of Düsseldorf. A few years earlier Handke had called Thomas Mann a "really lousy writer" on the occasion of reading Mann's "A Man and his Dog" - not a book on which Mann's reputation rises or falls; along the lines of Steinbeck's "Travels with Charley." First Handke doesn't want to accept that prize, then he does and gives the money back to the academy to give to someone else. Shortly after he calls the Thomas Mann "a shit prize." The point is that each and every step of the way is widely reported, publicity that might just be worth more than the prize. Returning the money makes you look even better.

The speech and the photo-op at the Milosevic funeral turns into the most extraordinary saga of them all:
Doesn't Handke ever play "mourner" to the hilt!
As a consequence a true bozo, Bozonett of the Comedie Française cancels a truly great Handke play, The Art of Asking, Handke gets an apology from the French minister of culture, but 99 out of 100 Frogs support Bozonnet's decision not to have anything to do with a monster who attends the funeral of a monster. Handke wins a lawsuit against Liberacion or L'Observateur for defamation of character. My disgust with French intellectuals nearly tears out my intestines. Siegried Loeffler, the then still editor of Literaturen, and something of a literary power persuades {?}, the Düsseldorf jury to award Handke that city's "Heinrich Heine Preis" - Handke is not exactly a name that you would associate with Heine, but anyhow the name Handke is such that in the meanwhile it burnishes any prize awarded him. The prize is worth Euro 50,000 - and it turns out Handke actually needs the money, not for himself, but so that he can invite all the translators of his pretty great 350 K novel Crossing the Sierra del Gredos to go mountain climbing with him and the other mountain goats in self-same Spanish mountain range. There is the to be expected public outcry, the city council won't release the money, Handke very publicly withdraws his name; his partner in publicity making machine, Peymann, who runs the Berliner Ensemble, established a “Berlin Heine Prize” and it is awarded to Handke. Handke and Peymann travel to the Kosovo and award the 50 k Euros with great T.V. coverage, note the photos marked “Kosovo Enclave” at: ]
to a Serbian enclave there. Eventually Handke gets serious and writes the first rate The Cuckoos of Velica Hoca,  which may have one or the other pro-Serbian accent, but  is not a piece of work that either falls or rises with that accent, but on the merits of its powers of observation, empathy and condensation and representation [look at Hans Hoeller’s suberb essay in Klaus Kastberger’s Freiheit] Can't think of an American writer who might be capable of anything of the kind. That is, you can have your cake and eat it too and show it off and do good work at the same time! However, Handke’s sense of extraordinary self-entitlement only seems to grow with time, most recently evidenced in the breach of his agreement with Klaus Peymann to premiere his latest play IMMER NOCH STURM {Still Storm} at the Burg Theater in Vienna and then transfer the production to the Berliner Ensemble’s home turf; he thinks it should play longer in Austria… but no, the  opportunity to have the play star in the lime light at the Salzburg Festival next year obviates all such agreements or sentimentalities about long affiliation, or, what might have been the proper venue for a play that entertains some Slovenian partisan activity in the frontera of Slovenia and Carinthia, say Klagenfurt or Graz. All that counts for this star is to shine in its own reflection at the most polished mirror. - And at the same time one of my Google spiders occasionally brings me a report that "the so withdrawn hermit-like author Peter Handke has deigned, gone out of his way to visit someone or shown some village the honor to show his face!" “Play the game!” it says in Walk About the Villages – Handke plays it better than most and has something to show for it. However, lots of other writers get short shrift – who is the “space displacer” I feel like asking the author of the wonderful characters by that name in “The Art of Asking”. Ms. Loeffler’s interceding indicates the corruption of the German/ Austrian literary establishment. The kid keeps getting his way, no matter what.

If you looked at the early work, looked at it closely, that is if you experienced a book as you read it, and what transpired during its writing you would see not only anxiety but that the writer by writing succeeded in conquering it, toyed with it, Handke has retained a certain coquettish quality all along, a very special economics that, which might just be an additional fillip to overcoming fear: I once found a perfect example of it in the poem Singular and Plural:
and tried to demonstrate fear being overcome.

Being your mother’s love child during the first two years of your life; I would venture that having such a

beautiful mother delight in your being alive also assures a forever search of the line of beauty in the curvatures and not only of Mt. St. Victoire, and being able to conquer anxiety through writing certainly helped give you an even more swollen head! Besides, you knew your stuff, were a virtuoso in some respects.

At the party that Jakov Lind, Pannah Grady and I gave for Gruppe 47 members and American writers to congregate at Pannah’s splendid so benignly lighted apartment in the Dakota, Handke mentioned that he had eye problems as an explanation for wearing the kind of dark glasses in the evening that you associated, then, with gangsters at that time of night; and, possessing well tuned peripheral vision, and being aware of what my periphery gleaned, noticed, at one point, that the kid had a good shot of village sadism in him.  That his behavior would not just be boorish but that of an idiot savant who suffered from autistic episodes with tads of Tourettism thrown in for good measure were experiences, and a lot of others, that stood very much in the offing! I hadn’t the faintest that here was someone whose wife and I would have run away with each other during their visit to NY in 1971, Handke seemed married to Fredi Kolleritsch just as in Short Letter Long Farewell, our only lacking money and opportunity; or someone who would rape a girlfriend and say to me the following week that he had not had any “women aventuras” for a long time, perhaps it wasn’t even an adventure, but a routine; nonetheless, it sort of took my breath away; and the girlfriend who had been something rarer than a great passion, but a “great fondness”, that turned out to be yet another moment in my “Midsummer Night’s Dream”; as did Mr. Handke’s thinking I was yet his friend; a lot of women love to be taken hard, a matter about which I feel more equivocal than Mr. Handke… Darwin, another who explains everything, would agree. However, Handke had successfully goaded me, and I would keep my distance except from the work. Thereafter Handke spooked me, and I tried as quickly as possible not to be alone with him. The writer Michael Brodsky who had come to Urizen Books via Patricia Highsmith and Handke served that foil at those times.



At the completion of the intense onslaughts with which I translated Walk About the Villages around 1983 Handke felt that it was better than any translation he could ever have conceived. He also noted the “cutting” tone it had acquired, and, most astonishingly, seemed to forget, at least for a while, that without his original text nothing of the sort could have been translated. I might have my dreams, but nothing both that grand and intimate and rich could ever even have been conceived by them. Thus the original author remained the only one, by and large, the great exception is Scott Abbot, who has a notion of how good that work is and whence smithy it was fashioned. Yes, Kurt Beattie, who played Kaspar here in Seattle, sensed its richness, and I imagine that first rate director M. Burke Walker did too, in one of whose classes I once discussed it; oh yes, let me not forget Zeljko Djukic of the Tutatoo Theater in Chicago, but that would seem to be it. The J. of Handke’s and my mutual acquaintance merely admired the line “hefty taxes”, so much for heart on that score. It appears also to have been too rich for the vast majority of the German reading public. 
    If you regard the second volume of Handke’s published diary excerpts, Geschichte des Bleistifts, you will note how carefully Handke prepared himself for that work. Indeed, I was very much in a cutting mood, if you haven’t, read Kohut’s great essay on Narcissistic Rage. As fate would have it, my nemesis at Farrar, Straus, a spanieling stiletto faggot, Michael diCapua, had become editor in chief for his lying master, he had already tried but failed to sabotage the Handke project of mine back in the late 60s as he did so many others – a man not noted for a single author of import save Woiwode if you accord Woiwode that status. I might have told Handke that my persistence was laying the grounds for a law suit since Roger Straus had made certain promises but also managed to screw me out of half my royalties on the Hesse millions I had brought him. See my homepage for my unhappy adventures in that skin trade:

In winter 1985, with the promise from another publisher, P.A.J. Press, I left New York for the city that has the bridge with that “touch of evil” to Ciudad Juarez, but all I lost was some street urchins stealing my hat, and another wife and we first spent three months in those two cities, then a year way up in Lincoln National Forest, a fix me up hunting lodge, I reverted to hunting and riding ways and M. and I also did a lot of traveling in the llano estacado all the way to Big Bend National Forest, all along the Rio Grande and across the frontera into the Carmen range, the right kind of wife for that, and, knowing that “nature was his measure,” kept writing Handke little postcards with nature scenes from every hamlet along the way. On returning to New York about a year and a half later the NY publisher who had committed themselves to Villages reneged on their promise, and I - no longer in a rage but back in hunting mode after that year in the wild, wrote them a fine drop dead letter, with copies to the PEN club and to Handke. That finally elicited a response from Handke, I hadn’t heard from him in about 18 months, to the effect that “It was nice to hear from me again” and that such a letter as I had written to P.A.J. was something “one could not do to him.” First thing that puzzled me was this “nice to hear from you again” – might he not have received any of the postcards and letters in the interim? Then I tried to imagine what it might be that was being done to him? What I was doing was for our mutual work. I imagine now that he must have been referring to his precious self-image – of course he took care of that himself a few years later during his intercession in behalf of the Serbians.
Handke’s letter ended with the threat to abrogate our friendship. If you wanted to get my back up, all you needed was to threaten me, especially during that period, and so I made sure my retour postcards [it was a few] to a man who was not my friend, possible friendship had been averted already in the mid-70s, but of whose work I was more than a friend, were legibly typed on my brand new electronic Brother typewriter, the first with a bit of computer memory and plastic spool ribbon, and sent back something to the effect of: “Aren’t we lucky that L. and I in Spring of 1971, she sure would have suited me fine, and you and J. hasn’t interfered with this friendship.” And that was that, Handke might have laughed and we’d really be friends then, I myself had forgotten all about the injury during the translation of Walk About the Villages, had even been grateful for having ruined the relationship with the “great fondness” who had revealed herself to be a schmooze and a macher, no need for me to be a Leonard to her Virginia, as I forget his wretched, I call it his “Bruno Handke side” when reading or being under the influence of the best of him, his work. But no, unfortunately Handke remained true to form and as “humorless as death,” and my W.A.T.V. being the best translation he had ever seen did not keep him from going to Ralph Mannheim and having a second one made. Alas poor Handke is all I can say. However, the appearance of the Mannheim translation, prior to mine, for once totally infuriated me. You find a distorted [the usual distorted I would say of matters of this kind] aspect of part of these events in The Afternoon as a Writer about the alleged former friend who is traveling from one sierra to the other as he goes mad. Humorless as death, Handke appears not to have known, hated being caught, lied, and thus ever so regretfully I must concur with Marie Colbin’s every single point on the estimate of Handke’s character [2], except  that he was “just a narcissistic writer” as she evidently herself does no longer as she keeps performing his work, now no longer fails to appreciate what it takes to become that great a couturier of the language he is to whom self-image yet seems to matter more than anything, how he appears on stage, and whose self-image is so wounded and tetchy; and except, hearing and seeing her perform Handke texts, she certainly is still pretty, but how Handke could have stood her presence for even one night without putting duct tape over her mouth is beyond my ears, who knows perhaps he did but she won’t tell us about having been a victim in a sick relationship for some years:

I imagine the part of my derisive reply to Handke’s threat that got to him was the bit of L. and I having run off together, a reminder of the “worst thing that ever happened” to him. I had yet to appreciate the devastation that that act wrought by looking closely at the works of the period 1971 to 1976, Sorrow Beyond Dreams, Nonsense & Happiness, A Moment of True Feeling, Weight of the World and how Handke imaginatively writes his way out of his injury by several acts of withdrawal, Left-Handed Woman and A Slow Homecoming. And if I had appreciated the devastation then, I might have left out that part of my reply, I would certainly have been a bit more thoughtful than on automatic fury. Handke commented on my poems in my Headshots that I still seemed to be in a fighting mood, I imagine he didn’t think I might fight him, too. At any event, I was now free of the relationship to the person, of course not to the texts, to marry those is fine. Lucky me in that respect, in many ways. I was in a position to remain a getreuer Korreptitor to his texts, sell our correspondence when I needed to, which would fetch far more now I imagine, be a tough on idiot critics as I liked, etc.
Villages was eventually published by Ariadne Press, but is now out of print. That stellar firm managed to sell 500 copies in about 15 years, little Urizen and Continuum Books sold about 5,000 copies of Innerworld and Nonsence & Happiness in a few years, of course we submitted galleys to Publisher’s Weekly and Library Journal so the world might know of the existence of these books instead of the cellars in which Ariadne Press’s books molder. There was only one more brief letter from Handke indicating that he had nothing against the publication of the translation being published, to the word and the text we are true, to not much else. When it devolved that no one seemed to be or want to translate the great 1999 VOYAGE BY DUGOUT:  THE PLAY ABOUT THE FILM ABOUT THE WAR I contacted Dr. Hardt at Suhrkamp, who is in charge of foreign rights, and indicated that I would be willing to translate the text at no charge, and prepare a translation and a playing version, since I felt that the text a whole would overwhelm the attention span of my local gnats. Via Hardt Handke communicated that “I should accept” – little did he seem to know that the last thing I needed was yet another albatross to shlepp. If we had not been on the outs this getreue Korreptitor would have gone on translating all the plays:
got a few of them published and only a single one of the late great plays performed in English, The Hour we knew nothing about each other, which works so well because it is, on one level, as unchallenging as dance theater, and no one really understands it and its movement, or grace – can’t say that I’ve run into a single review that comments on that line of beauty that most Handke texts have.
However, unbeknownst at least to Dr. Hardt, Scott Abbott, the translator of JOURNEYS TO THE RIVERS [JUSTICE FOR SERBIA] not yet the friend he is now, was already translating VOYAGE, Conjunctions was even going to run an excerpt until the J.L. Marcus crime appeared in the NYRB, a task he completed a few years ago, first rate work, and neither his or my after all fairly connected attempts to get it staged show any results so far in this garbage heap culture. Here in Seattle I had initially found interest in Richard White at Cornish,  who then never got back to me for a second date – he was too busy giving away money from the local arts fund, to matters that never never never will get beyond the borders of these philistine surrounds. Ditto for all the ones who once claimed “Oh Handke I love his work.” Bullshit artists, lazy bones, it’s not the system, a better system with these people would re-create the same culture. I.e. matters are entirely hope-less. The few are far too few.


One instance of Handke appearing and I availing myself of Michael Brodsky as a foil is the worm hole to matters becoming novelistic and truly worm eaten. The year must be 1977. Handke did not have Amina along as he once did as well, and I decided to go to my, one of the two watering holes in our downtown then urban pioneering idyll, Barnabus Rex, which was on the north side of that very short block of Captain Duane Street between Hudson Street and West Broadway, two blocks north of Chamber, half a dozen of the then still erect WTC, the other was Puffy’s at Jay and Hudson, with author Jim Stratton as part owner. At Barnabus that night the head bartender of that shoebox of a bar that had a bar pool-table and a famous juke box and a postage stamp to dance on, was “Ace”, Andreas Nowa, and I will always recall the way Ace’s face opened gradually into the most welcoming broad happy smile – Ace had studied directing but found that directing the extraordinary goings on at B-Rex, then Mickey’s and ultimately “The Raccoon Lodge,” quite slaked his directorial thirst – when I introduced Handke to him, whose work he knew of his own accord. Handke and Brodsky talked, I played pool and danced a bit, I noticed that the two of them made attempts in that direction, awkward shuffles. The evening was notable for two matters, one that Laurie Spiegel, with whom I had taken a loft and lived in Duane Park for two years appeared at the threshold and promptly fainted at the sight of me happily with friends instead of being two-by-four tossed by her after I had moved out from her harridans fifth floor , the strapping Aussie sheep farmer’s son the Maoist Tim Burns carried her home; and Handke whispering to me out of the nowhere that if I needed $ 10,000 for Urizen Books I should call on him. [5] An observation of Handke’s from that evening has made it into Die Geschichte des Bleistift’s to the effect that he had seen someone who was both playful and serious.  Certainly those were the qualities that had also attracted me to his work initially, who would eventually call himself, accurately, “the melancholy player.” If Handke had one actress after another because he said actresses were “lighter” [I would say the company of a pretty actress make Handke look better is the reason, and if he feels better he feels less depressed], all my marriages and marriage-like living arrangements were with artists, two painters, two writers, one dancer, one daughter of a painter on the way to becoming a painter herself, and Laurie, the composer, music touched me most deeply of all, and love of Spiegel Musik, their work exceeded love of their fleshly presence. From such delusions many a “La Bohéme” is born. Even now I can fall in love with a poetess just reading a fine translation of a poem, thank you for laughing Basheva. The fatalities of sons of beautiful mothers.

Let us now fast forward to the early 90s and UC Riverside where I met “sie sind bei Erich Wolfgang Skwara” is how his answering machine greets you who had met Handke at Martin Walser’s place at the Bodensee, which I had once visited in 1969. He needed someone to bring the translation of his wonderful Don Juan novel THE PLAGUE OF SIENA up to snuff and it sure was a pleasure to do so. Udderwise, as became quickly clear, Skwara was a decadent, which did not faze me except that he, too, seemed to be one of those Don Juans who were intent on injuring women. An interesting relationship might ensue, not a close one ever, I was a bit more awake. In a conversation between Skwara and Handke which this absolutely wonderful tattle tale gossip reported Handke explained that his and mine relationship was on the rocks because I had not repaid the 10 K loan he had made to Urizen Books. Well no, it was because I had insulted him with my letter, and I recounted Handke’s proclivities with the fairer sex, roughness of which Skwara himself had gotten good wind off, and Skwara mentioned that he would take care not to afford Handke the opportunity to have any of his women! Men! Just like me: in the later 70s I had a really precocious girlfriend who was studying in Paris and who it turned out was a double for the young Marie Colbin, who was only in Handke’s future then, I had made it a point never to take Rachel to visit Handke, who had moved out of the dark, nicely mysterious extensive semi-basement on the Rue Montmorency to a small Gründerzeit castle in Meudon, the very one where Left Handed Woman was filmed, but only to the man who became my favorite author ever, the aging United Front War reporter Wilfred Burchett and his Bulgarian very peasant sturdy wife, in Clamart, the quartiér one over from Meudon.
    When the firm, Urizen Books, had gone down and I started on what seemed like a god-send, the translation of WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES, in the course of that correspondence, Handke had brought up the subject of the outstanding loan and wrote that at the time he had made good on the promise this was a considerable sum for him  - and in retrospect I thought if I had known that I would not have called on it, and he also wrote that it did not seem to be enough, indeed it was not, $ 500,000 would have been [see FN # 5], but I wondered whether Handke had any idea of the finances involved in that curious business of book publishing where you pay advances it can take many years to recoup, have to pay salaries and printers and buy paper and afford book sellers credit… If my father’s example as an extraordinarily capable but pathos drenched businessman had not made business of any kind such an unattractive proposition I might even have decided to get myself trained in all aspect of that business in my 20s, opportunities certainly afforded themselves, and not learned the trade by the seat of my pants and, but for the hideous partner ship, business was both fun and surprisingly clean: one bookshop once did not pay up at all during those seven years, one typesetter once held me up and demanded twice the agreed on price on final galleys for Sam Shepard’s Pulitzer Prize play Buried Child, the mob stole the first ten boxes of self-named play from a loading dock and a “used” book shop downtown had copies before I did. By and large, I could not even complain about reviewers as I now do about the treatment Handke has been receiving the past 25 years in this country. Sure, there were these curious events when a marvelous book such as Dolf Sternberger’s Panorama of the 19th Century or Gavino Ledda’s Padre Padrone fell entirely through the cracks, no matter what you as the midwife had done, and you then scratched your head.

At the time, in the early 80s, I replied to Handke that I had an inheritance, as I then did, and my will would mention the debt and consigned the sum to him or to Amina whoever happened to be alive. Later, when it devolved that Suhrkamp owed me $ 10 K from my representation work for them from 1969 to 1971, I also wrote him that since Unseld – as usual I might say – did not honor agreements with the “small people” might put an extra 10 K on Handke’s Suhrkamp issued American Express card: Indeed if you are an A-list Suhrkamp author, at least at that time, you got your own Suhrkamp American Express card and your quarterly royalty statements were accounted in that fashion; i.e. since you could as it were draw ahead, these statements were meaningless. Siegfried Unseld basically was a holdup artist, who if he had done what he did on a street, would have spent time in jail; since he, however, only did it to a fellow publisher, Roger Straus – I want a larger share of the mass paperback rights for Hesse – we are talking hundred of thousands dollars – or we will not permit any other such sales, moreover we will not sign the second ten book contract – you get away with it, since you need to continue to be in business with each other, and the only not very serious consequence is that the agency, Lantz-Donadio and I will stop repping you. I was touched to read in the recently published Unseld-Bernhardt correspondence how Bernhardt seemed to know the vulture and held him up the way an artist can a besotted vulture, I could sympathize with poor Siegfried’s merciless addiction to genius and culture. Again see my home page
for the depth of criminality in that field. I would not drift into it again, but follow my childhood love of flora and fauna and try to work as much as possible in the field.
Since I had translated WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES for Handke, at his request, I might have brought that up. What amounted to six months intense work over a three year period eventually earned me $ 650.00. $ 500 from the publisher Ariadne Press, $ 150.00 from Partisan Review, and a fine bottle of California Red from Jim Krusoe at the St. Monica Review, who also published an excerpt, minus hundreds of dollars in postage and Xerox to find a publisher. In other words, Handke was lying to Skwara about the cause for his and mine being personally on the outs. What might a real man have said? [a] “When I told him that I didn’t like the way he was going about finding a publisher for the work he insulted him.” Would have been close enough to the truth. Or [b] I screwed his girlfriend back in the 70s, it never seemed to bother him then, now he brings it up and claims he and Libgart would have run away. I and my work don’t need it.”
Lie only when your existince seems to depend on it, something I have had to do only once.  Handke appears to have learned lying early in life, he even claims that as soon as he is caught he lies like the dickens, perhaps it is a part of his general feeling of overall entitlement. In an amazing interview with Rene Mueller, Handke at one point voices the opinion that he’d like to be a real “Schuft” at some point in the future, and Mueller, rather wittily, replies that there is certainly ample time left for that – who as an investigative reporter interviewer seems to leave something to be desired as he places another Handke interview in the pages of a feuilliton. Thus poor Marie Colbin could not be more right about Handke’s character, wrong about his being exclusively a narcissistic writer; and since Handke is such a split being, his lousy character does not effect his work too often, not at all when he is as honest as he is in, say, WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES or DON JUAN; in a mixed bag such as MORAWIAN NIGHTS, severely. As to Kultchur, don’t necessarily reach for your side arm on hearing the word, but do keep one in your holster when dealing with the vultures.
End Excursus

After Princeton and the party in New York in 1966, you might conclude that the fellow had made an impression, that you would read his first novel and look at his plays, Unseld was certainly happy that a young author had risen to the occasion, in the background would remain these hints of darkness. That the dark would manifest itself then also in the work and in the way the person lived his life might have come as an unhappy realization, but what of course came as ultimately by far greater a surprise was the range of the talent and what it could elicit in me and that there was that much love in the fellow, that he could also be a sweetheart of a guy, and generous, and helpful, and that he turned out to be a genius, and a hardworking, well trained one – that came as one of the more pleasant surprises in my life which would be a far emptier than it is without that encounter; and I am speaking not just for myself. And that he then afforded me the opportunity to get off the Handke bus and merely report on what I had experienced and sell our correspondence of maybe 75 letters for far less than they would fetch now.
In 1966 I certainly had not the faintest that Handke was someone whose work I might want to translate, personally he was not someone I was attracted to spend time with. As fate or whatever would have it, a few years later with a job at FSG I persuaded the powers that be, with Susan Sontag’s endorsement, to take on a novel of his and the early plays; playing with translating the plays to see who might be the right translator – some pages of Self-Accusation - found it a lot of fun. Thus you became involved, not finding anyone to produce the plays… you [I] became involved more deeply.

I eventually realized that I was one of those someones for whom Pound seemed to have said in his ABC of Reading that one needed only to know a few things really well. The first instance of that was becoming a Joycean during my senior year in high school [thank you Yoshira Sonbanmatsu!], although, as I think back, I had also been one of those German kids who then read each and every 50+ book by the German writer of adventures set in the Middle East, Central America and the United States Indian country, and retained a lot of its pretty good geography and knowledge of the flora and fauna of those regions – although evidently not well enough not to pursue a big black and white bushy- tailed what I thought cat when, newly arrived, I found myself living at the edge of the woods in West Orange, New Jersey in 1950, with unpleasant consequences as the cat raised its tail and sprayed. Joyce was succeeded, the idea of spending time with Joyceans did not appeal to me, by a year’s complete involvement with Faulkner, then a year of Kafka and Co., the idea of becoming a Kafka nut did not prove attractive either, although Kafka scholars are a nicely variegated lot and he certainly had great initial responders in Walter Benjamin and Theodor W. Adorno. Then came Brecht and Lukacs, Brechtians for a long time either smoked cigars and wore their hair the way Brecht did, but again: a variegated lot. Goethe scholars I have found to be the humanely richest and congenial of that kind, starting with Harry Pfund at Haverford; and Pound, the idea of being a Poundian was even less attractive then being a Joycean, he seemed to attract the genuinely mad and fanatical or soft skulled, and I actually never ploughed through the Cantos in their entirety, or had the slightest desire to trek to St. Elizabeth, although certainly everything else was of real benefit I think, especially to my ear. Faulknerians I never met except for William Styron with whom I had the one really good conversation about Faulkner after my Freshman year, Conrad, Henry James, I ought to thank my stepfather, Colonel Richard Weber who must be getting out of limbo just about now, for having been an utter Shakespeare nut, one of several endearing qualities, which obviated any further Shakespeare nuts down the line and certainly helped avoid some serious gaffes translating Handke who is a kind of Shakespearean talent. Musil… has fine scholars quite a few of whom I admire greatly, sanity prevails. At any event I carried these affairs pretty well to the limit and then went on. Later would come Adorno, who must have the greatest pain-in-the-ass schoolmasterly followers; and eventually Freud whose complete works I read three times, and his disciples. What a wealth there! Handke scholarship, best as I can tell, has attracted some truly talented translators and scholars and fine minds – Scott Abbott, Karl Wagner, Fabjan Haffner, Hans Höller, Georg Pichler [the one who is at the University of Alcala in Madrid] Krishna Winston [despite her failure to read the early work and the idiot advice she gave to Farrar, Straus on KALI], Tom Barry, David Coury, Frank Pillip, Schmidt-Dengler and some of his students, to mention far too few of those who then make up for what the reception leaves to be desired…  Some scholars are now so indebted to Handke,
not just in my postage stamp, so much is invested in him,
that a differentiated assessment, that is an interesting
assessment, instead of the building hagiography... will be difficult, these are the pendulums... to come…
In the U.S. Handke has received a single review from a peer, William Gass, who then regretted that Steve Wasserman at the L.A. Book Review only afforded him half the space he wanted [see the handke-revista-review blog for the Gass’s piece on MY YEAR IN THE NO-MAN’S BAY.
I was going to make my decimation of Neil Gordon’s criminally incompetent NY Times Book Review of this round-up, you can find it at:
as you can the even more detailed job I did on J.L. Marcus equally stupid but far more damaging piece in the New York Review of Books. Then there are the sweet nothings that sweet thing say, the great exception, as mentioned before, was the apparent comprehension of ONE DARK NIGHT I LEFT MY SILENT HOUSE – J.L. Marcus, desperately looking for signs of pro-Serbian sentiment even there, missed Handke’s surrogate, the pharmacist’s nasty insert on some damaged NATO vehicles being pulled north along the Autobahn of the improbably named Taxham, a kind of Salzburg suburb. Among introductions, let me not fail to mention Greil Marcus’s fine one to the NYRB Books edition of SHORT LETTER LONG FAREWELL.

Then there are the Juergen Brockhoffs, I imagine that there
must be others of that ilk in the discipline, who feel as he does, not that all of them are for sale to the FAZ.

Heinrich Detering, someone whose specialty is the productive conflict of bi-sexual impulses, Handke might be a fit subject for his approach if he took the trouble to research what psychoanalysis avail in that respect, preferably doing one himself so as to be able to speak with some authority, has an oddly idyllic take on that wonderfully dark DON JUAN, which might just become, nay already has become my favorite Handke short novel, his piece can be found at:
and I have devoted a page to Don Juan at:

I had a similar experience to the Handke reception during my Freshman year in college in reading the swinishness to which Faulkner’s work was subjected prior to his winning the Nobel Prize and, optimistic fool I continue to be, did not think I would ever encounter anything along those lines again. Ah, but if there isn’t that super-swine J. L Marcus in the NYRB whose infamy I took the trouble to decimate point by point at:

Neil Gordon, who is even head of a writing program and who is mentioned individually only because he appears to have some power is decimated point by ugly stupid point at:
But it is not Gordon who is to be blamed, it is editors like Oh Tannenbaum, Bob Silvers, Robert Wilson of the alleged American Scholar who avail themselves of the likes of Gordon, J.L. Marcus and Michael McDonald, literary counsel to the American Interest, and I blame perpetuators such as Dennis “The Mutton” Dutton of “Artdaily” an adjunct of the Chronicle of Higher Education for such perpetuations to the exclusion of balancing counter-argument. Nay, after I complained to the Chronicle about his doing two Michael McDonald idiocies and nothing else, the sweet Mutton me know a few months down the line that he’d run into something positive but because I had complained would not do me the favor. And that poor sheep then complains when I call him petty, and what that has to do with me anyway, or the conveyance of halfway credible information

As to the Handke’s publishing career in the U.S., you can lay blame, and squarely at the graves of Roger Straus and Michael diCapua. Handke collections were in semi-mass paperback with Avon and Collier Books in the 70s, the New Yorker had devoted an entire issue to Left-Handed Woman and run a huge especially tailored except from The Repetition. The plays were done all the time in colleges. Then F.S.+G. waited approximately 10 years and brought out a collection of three very different book under the title of its lead novel A Slow Homecoming which three books might have been published in sequence, as they were written, subsequent to Left-Handed Woman. The transition to a somewhat changed Handke was lost; even though Weight of the World had done well FS&G did not follow up with Geschichte des Bleistifts [The History of the Pencil], and though Kaspar + other Plays went through no end of re-printings and Ride Across Lake Constance and Other Plays sold out, F.S.G. did not publish a single of his later greater plays. For that Steve Wasserman during his tenure as editor of the FSG subsidiaries Hill & Wang – where plays are published -  and Noonday Books deserves some of the blame, or blame the avariciousness of the quarterly statement. And then in the 90s Roger Straus writes Siegfried Unseld that he has a problem and its name is Handke! No, whatever circle of hell you dwell in Roger, the name and problem is Roger Straus, and that Handke must have had near a dozen editors at Farrar, Straus over the incremental now forty years. Currently F.S. & G. relies on his chief prose translator Krishna Winston as advisor on what Handke to publish and not. For reasons of wanting some time to herself and thinking that the truly very different novel Kali is like other Handke she turned it down. Not only is this evidence of translator’s megalomania, I can think of at least a half dozen translators from the German who could do a fine job with that book, but also of pretense, since Krishna, first rate translator, has not read any Handke prior to the time she came aboard around 1990 with the death of Ralph Mannheim, nay I have been trying to prevail on her for years to read Walk About the Villages. Alas and alas and alas, the wrong kind of amateurishness of U.S. trade publishing will never cease.


Thus, what came as mostly an unhappy experience as of a certain point were matters incidental to being involved in Handke’s work, the reception, his mediocre publisher who had dropped the ball already in the early 80s and still hasn’t really picked it back up, the controversies… literary intramural food fights… German reviewer lack nothing in incompetence over folks like, e.g. David Siegel, that Ulrich Greiner and Iris Radisch are / were chief reviewers for my aunt’s Die Zeit, or that there is an idiot like Hubert Spiegel writing for the Frankfurter Allgemeine… Oddly enough, the re-invented Neues Deutschland, once the organ of the East German S.E.D. [Unified i.e. forcibly joined socialist and communist parties of the Peoples Republic of Germany] does some of the best Handke reviews there! My guess is because now, no longer a party organ, they still revel in their independence and their heart continues to beat on the left, and are under the delusion that Handke, the capitalist, is still a socialist!

Handke of course has his devotees that unhappily can be as uncritical as Hesse fans used to be. [4] H.M. Enzensberger has a nasty line about both kinds in one of his poems “first she read Hesse then Handke” – anyhow, a devotee such as Lothar Struck is what Handke ought to have as a mother French saint of a wife Portuguese cleaning woman for whom her son can do no wrong, devoted and soft in the noodle he starts to sorrow that there will be no more books at a ficciones such as Morawian Nights, thinks that Handke has never written in as childlike a fashion before [no child writes such formalist tour de forces, Lothar! as Moravian has them] is willing to overlook that her son beats the shit out of women, is astounded by Handke calling Madelaine Allbright “Ganzhell” and that Handke has some of his own characters make brief appearances in the book! Alas, what befuddlement will do in our respective Midsummer Nights Dreams! meanwhile as only mothers can be. Since  there are so many that do wrong by Handke, why not someone who is besotted, like Lothar Struck the wife Handke never had! Yet his many reviews of Handke's work at his Begleitschreiben blog
and at the first rate German on-line Literary Mag
GLANZ UND ELEND contains many fine and valuable insights
 Struck thus  can be forgiven for losing his mind over MORAWIAN NIGHTS, sorrowing that this might be the master's last work, on the one hand reading autobiographically but then refusing to do so overall. Lothar is forgiven for this mental lapse, after all if I dwell on the mistakes in love I made for all the pretty girls, never never never in literature, if only the wenches had been books I would not have lost my mind and read some of them better and even loved some of them better...
Struck helps obviate some of junk perpetrated by German reviewers. It really is not those poor sods who ought to be blamed but the editors of these organs, one notable exception is the NZZ [Neue Zuricher Zeitung].

As noted at the beginning of what was meant to be only 5 k words long: Handke is nearly enshrined in Austria as a National Treasure despite or perhaps because he is such a unique Popanz; the National Archives there sprung for an equal amount to the German Marbach archives for their half of his manuscripts and notebooks; perhaps the Slovenian equivalent will get the future accumulation, and Handke’s leavings will then be distributed not to the winds but to the three countries in which he is rooted. Thus scholarship is taking a somewhat uncritical look at the treasure and making it ready to be exhibited as a marble statue. However, this photo, with which I will close, would seem most appropriate to his split nature. When Richard Grey that spectacular Kafka scholar asked me one day about an ambivalence he sensed in my feelings about my subject, I explained that you could hang up a lot of clothes on that clothes line, especially if you looked at all the different matters that you hung on it. But I can’t say that ambivalence has ever been like this, on the one hand the fellow elicits disgust on the other, next to my mother, I can’t say I love any one better.

One day I arrived at Montmorency, 1974 I think, and an Austrian Backfisch Groupie was there. I sat around for a while thinking what might be going on, but did not stay long. Calling Handke or his calling me, he mentioned that he had then exposed himself and that the girl had blushed, precisely of course the reaction an exhibitionist wants to elicit, and Handke said he did this when he felt “a bit diabolical.” About ten years later in the make love not war and love-making is like breathing but for God’s sake don’t fall in love and into possessiveness of downtown Manhattan of the 70s into the 80s I might even have asked the girl: do you like making love to two men? It would have been perfectly normal in Tribeca then. Handke I suspect would have grinned his famous shit-eating grin. But it wasn’t until I pursued Handke’s childhood tragedy that I understood why exhibition in all its manifestations was one of the forces driving his art – not that his so very chaste art elicits embarrassed blushes from the word, only verbally he does and can, and in his unceasing need to exhibit himself so competitively and compensatorily and vocally. However, I recall an analyst saying to me after a performance of PUBLIC INSULT at the Goethe House in New York that the piece had been as good as a great communal session in making the audience entirely self-conscious about being in the world and about language.

Meanwhile my man lives as a restaurateur of the finest language salad in the Forêt de Chaville, and this “bower bird” in an even finer retreat on Pheasant lane in  a prairie by a lake:                            


[1] Early works: See:

[2-A] Colbin
Handke introduces his admission to having beaten a woman, tactical concession defense, as a belated response to former lover and Lebensgefährte, collaborator on a film now Erinye Marie Colbin’s going public, during the Handke/ Yugoslavia publicity wars in the 90s, first in Der Falter, which was picked up
with a description of how Handke had nearly killed her. ["Ich höre noch meinen Kopf auf den Steinboden knallen. Ich spüre noch den Bergschuh im Unterleib und auch die Faust im Gesicht...   Solange es Männer gibt auf dieser Welt - Männer wie Dich - einäugig, unnachgiebig, machthungrig und Ego-breit - wird es auch Waffen geben und somit Kriege... Wer bist Du denn, daß Du Dich so wichtig nimmst? Bist weder groß, noch edel oder gar bescheiden und aufrichtig. Ein eitler Schreiber bist Du, der sich sonnt in der Rolle des 'einsamen Rufers.'... Irgendwie wirst Du diesem Krieg dankbar sein, denn er befriedigt auf perverse Weise Dein unstillbares Verlangen nach öffentlicher Anerkennung." A translation of her statement reads: „I can still feel my head bang on the stone floor. I can still feel the mountain hiker boots hit my stomach and your fist in my face… As long as there are men in the world – men like you – one-eyed, unyielding, power-hungry and egomaniacal – there will be weapons and therefore war… Who are you, to think of yourself as so important. You are neither great, nor noble nor modest nor honest. A vain writer is what you are, who suns himself in the role of the solitary prophet… In some way you will be thankful for this war [The Yugoslav wars of 1994] because it will satisfy your insatiable longing for public acclaim.” –

I gives me little satisfaction [only some] to agree with most of Ms. Colbin’s assessment, who however herself would I think disavow her statement that he is just a vain writer – since she herself doesn’t seem to be able not to perform his work, that is let go. I cannot recall a single instance where Handke in what had been a 20 some year association where he expressed the slightest interest in who I might be, whence I came, my past, etc. Monomaniacal was fine with me once I got an inkling of what a genius he was. Yet what surprised me was that someone so quickly successful might yet be so lonely that he needed to ask me in the 70s to write to him – once I got a drift on how very different his autism made this idiot savant, I allowed that it was simply so, not that I necessarily understood all those equations. Colbin is of course more than right in finding that the Yugoslav wars afforded Handke a golden opportunity for self-display – yet some fine works, as detailed above, have resulted from it too. Perhaps we should just summarize it in your typical all purpose New York Times headline: “Some good, some bad.” !?

2 b- Colbin]

August 9, 2010

COLBIN READS HANDKE BACK AT HIM/ and i leave a six part commentar

"eine verschmitzte, herrlich sinnlose Lebenslust"- GENAU!

Festwochen Gmunden: Gedemütigte Frau und Richterin

  Marie ColbinMarie Colbin las Peter Handke im Gmundner MYTHOS.   

In Peter Handkes Salzburger Jahren Anfang der 80er war der Schriftsteller der Lebenspartner der Schauspielerin Marie Colbin. Bei den Festwochen Gmunden las Colbin am Samstag im MYTHOS Handkes Text „Bis dass der Tag euch scheidet oder eine Frage des Lichts“.

Das MYTHOS in der Badgasse ist ein Ort, an dem nicht über Qualität diskutiert werden muss. In dem kleinen Geschäft mit großem Anspruch stehen Film-Raritäten herum, erlesene Literatur und fantastische Vinyl-Platten. Wer hier Kunde ist, der lässt sich nicht vom Zeitgeist schrecken, der steht auf Dinge für die Ewigkeit. Mit diesem Anspruch reiste die in Salzburg lebende Marie Colbin nicht in ihre Heimatstadt. Für die Ewigkeit – was ist das schon, geht das denn? Sie wollte Peter Handkes im Oktober 2008 entstandenen Monolog bloß mehr Leben injizieren, als es die blutleere Uraufführung bei den Salzburger Festspielen im vergangenen Jahr zu Stande gebracht hat. Das gelingt ihr, mitunter sogar ein bisschen zu lebendig. Sie gibt sich hin, als sei ihr die Anklage der namenlosen Frau selbst aus der Feder geflossen. Handke reagiert mit seinem Text auf Samuel Becketts „Das letzte Band“ und dessen Figur Krapp. Handke bewertete Becketts Werk als die Endstation des Theaters, weil noch mehr Reduktion nicht zu schaffen sei.
Schweigen ohne Widerrede
„Mit deiner Art Schweigen wolltest du bestimmen über mich, wolltest du mir dein Gesetz aufzwingen, ein despotisches Gesetz, gegen das es keine Widerrede gab“, liest und lebt Colbin. Im Raum entsteht eine Ahnung davon, wie es sich zwischen ihr und Handke abgespielt haben könnte. Colbin ist kleines Mädchen, gedemütigte Frau und Richterin. Sie stampft, sie marschiert barfuß auf dem eigens ausgelegten roten Teppich, der sich wie eine Blutspur durch den Laden zieht. „Neiiiiiiiiin“, schreit sie gellend und wehrt sich gegen die Bilder, die in ihr aufsteigen, gegen seinen „formvollendeten Gram“ und gegen seine „Leichenbittermiene“, in der sie „eine verschmitzte, herrlich sinnlose Lebenslust“ zu erkennen glaubt. Colbin mutet sich ungebremst zu, und als Adressat ist Handke an diesem Abend nicht mehr aus dem Kopf zu bringen.
Marie Colbin steht kurz davor, ins Filmgeschäft zurückzukehren, im Herbst wird über die Finanzierung von zwei Projekten entschieden. Bis dahin hat sie noch einen kleinen Teil ihrer Welt zu retten: das Postamt in ihrem Salzburger Stadtteil Morzg, das zugesperrt werden soll. Ein Salzburger Freibad hat sie schon vor dem Abriss bewahrt und damit verhindert, dass anstelle der urbanen Idylle ein Hotel gebaut wurde. Colbin: „Mit dieser Post ist es genauso, sie ist ein kleines Kommunikationszentrum, vom Uhu bis zur DVD kriegt man alles, und es wäre eine Schande, wenn sie es schließen.“ 1400 Unterschriften hat sie schon gesammelt, die Protestliste wird sie den Zuständigen in Wien zustellen – freilich per Post.


[3-a] At one point I sat on the podium next to H.M. Enzensberger whom I had met in 1961 at Ruth Landshoff Yorck’s on Cornelia Street in Greenwich Village. H.M.E. seemed so bored he was teaching himself Chinese, which would take him probably less than a month. Aside from Enzensberger I knew a fair number of members of the Gruppe and their work, I had done long interviews with Uwe Johnson and Peter Weiss, unfortunately Günter Grass did not allow tape recorders, and I did not know stenography. The sergeant major of the group who made short shrift of Handke’s prohibited whole scale attack, only comments on individual texts were allowed, I had met in Berlin. If I had real personal affinity it was with Peter Weiss, but what a talented group of people had developed out of the ashes, and the East Germans were not represented, some Austrians, some Swiss. By Spring 1966 I had spent my Junior year at German Universities; had spent several years in Germanics in graduate school, which remained impervious to then current literature, had been a reader for a variety of U.S. publishers, had spent a year as a literary Scout in Germany with ample time to read, especially at an aunt’s bookshop in Berlin, even had become somewhat versed in the approved East German literature, typing was the one of the most useful thing I took away from high school, no one had mentioned stenography. Had befriended Jürgen Becker, Fritz Raddatz in Hamburg… had read most everything of the “Wiener Schule” and was developing a good dim sense of the lay of the different literary landscapes .

[4] I translated three fairly early Hesse novel in the 60s and it was a chore. I always admired Ralph Mannheim for bringing Hesse up to snuff in translation.

[5] At that time Urizen was in a bit of trouble, when was it not, started with $ 200,000 and what expertise I had and 25 books that I wanted to publish. At that time, 1977, I had just committed myself to contribute $ 50,000 in capital, but only had $ 20 k, ten from my father, and 10 that I had earned through some outside editing of the autobiography of a banker’s wife. Two friends, aside Handke, without being asked contributed the other twenty. I am still mystified how I might have emanated that need or been that well liked or at those expressions of confidence at a moment I was beginning to have some serious doubt about the firm, especially about the other active partner [the third, Leo Feldsberg, Oberon N.V. was by and large silent investor who ought to have and certainly had the funds to invest many a million or at least half a million and the firm could have established its backlist a bit more quickly and less arduously], Susan Sontag had just informed me that Wieland Schulz’s [the passport name]  moneys derived from his partnership with a Mafioso in a pornographic dubbing firm, Vicland Productions. I had assumed until then that Schulz’s working capital of $ 100,000 derived from the little social documentaries he was making for West German television. Moreover, Schulz also was beginning to behave just the way Handke himself had described on meeting him ever so briefly at the premiere of My Foot My Tutor and Self-Accusation at B.A.M. in Spring 1971. Schulz was showing that he was a shouting nervous dictator, he had already screwed the other partner out of his $ 50,000 commitment in a venture to make a Midsummer Night’s Dream film where Judith Thurman received $ 5,000 to write the screen play. For me it became a question who of the two partner’s was the greater embarrassment, and THIS threesome had founded what was meant to be a firm “that shared profits with its authors and was owned by its employees”. [Feldsberg’ residence in Kali, Colombia was on a hill looking at a hill opposite that the Catholics ascended on Easter on their knees with Leo cackling as the devout idiots did so. Leo had one of the great collections of recorded opera, son of a Viennese wine merchant he had become a rich man courtesy of a $ 25,000 loan from the Danish consul in the early 40s. Now he wanted to be the impresario that he had dreamed of being as a young man in Vienna. Leo couldn’t bear to lose a buck on the simplest of bets, that I guess is how you become and remain a millionaire in this world.]

 I did not see a way out of my predicament, but found ways of introducing moneys into the firm, and found several serious investors who took one look at Schulz and then passed. Here is the first of my two grievous errors that led to the demise to the firm. The second even more grievous and truly fatal one was when our sales manager Hyung Pak showed me that Schulz was using the firm to sluice money from his off-shore vehicle Princeton N.V. through Urizen, and that he was taking a salary even when he didn’t work, Schulz actually, clever [?] fellow, for an alleged investment of $ 100,000 managed to take out $ 300,000 from the firm during its approximate seven year existence. Not only that, he played Feldsberg and me off against each other, by telling our respective selves that the other wanted Schulz to run the firm, something that I didn’t find out until I met with Leo after the firm no longer even existed. At the end, Schulz sold the heart of the firm, its twelve most valuable titles, for $ 25,000 and kept that money for his Under the Volcano Venture, a project that he stole from my Spanish director friend Gonzalo de Herralde Grau one of whose films Schulz had produced out of the Urizen Office. It was that theft that finally made me see clearly and go into action, and it turned out that the crazy making Schulz was an utter coward, as evil so frequently is: served a subpoena he turned blue and fled and never even showed up in court, thus winning that suit turned out to be child’s play. Had Handke ever been right about how dark and also at least very German Schulz was, and discovered in what, five minutes, darkness it took me about half a dozen years to appreciate. No wonder you might say that I decided to see an analyst. During the course of the early years of Urizen Books a kind of sweet dumb and troubled fellow would occasionally show up at Urizen, progressively more distraught,  Victor Bertini, and he supplied the “Vic” in Vicland [its German pronunciation is the joke], Schulz’s and his porno-dubbing firm, and he was subjected to the same financial razzle dazzle that also gradually drove me crazy, so that when I look back I can see myself behaving like Victor, who was just a soldati, not some smart mobster at all, until the last moment as it were, but at the last moment Urizen was  a sick horse that had to be put out of its misery; thus it’s failure is entirely  my fault, the fault of my grandiosity in thinking that my magic could make it survive no matter what. Schulz eventually fled NY and has gone on to acquire judgments galore in the European film business, a long trail of destruction lies in his wake:
As someone who knows him observed: “He wants to be caught, and then he wants to do it again.” i.e. a miserable masochist, and where there is masochism there is sadism. However, I also felt obligated at the time, and since the fellow also added the dimension of social history to the firm, and doing it by myself felt too lonely… I failed to take action until it was too late. But such negligence and dithering and grandiosity has consequences. However, my failure at least was not as grave as my grandfather’s in not killing Hitler when he had the opportunity, as Schleicher’s go-between, and seemed to know what that man’s ambitions were. My grandmother said that she’s prefer not to have that gentleman in her house again, the same advice might be passed on to anyone contemplating having that charmer Wieland Schulz [Keil] over for lunch.



About Me

My photo
seattle, Washington, United States
MICHAEL ROLOFF Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website