Sunday, October 27, 2019
SUNDAY REVIEW / THE DARKNESS OF BEING PETER HANDKE
The writing of Peter Handke, all eight of his novels, is a journey akin to having great seats at a soccer match that never ends. Or, being lost in another man’s personal and political woods on a winter’s eve. One hopes to escape the bleakness of Handke’s bog lands by hurrying to finish the book before hands rise from the pages and strangle the reader. That’s why there are so few readers of Peter Handke. But, if you wish to delve into the world of Yugoslav Wars [1991-2001]from a right-wing ethnic cleansing point of view then, by all means, he’s a champion.
Handke was born in 1942 in Austria and lives in France.
Novels by Peter Handke, Austrian Writer.
--Crossing the Sierra de Gredos, a 2002 novel by the Austrian writer Peter Handke. It tells the story of a successful female banker who makes a journey through the Sierra de Gredos mountain range in Spain to meet a famous author in La Mancha who will write her biography. On the way she makes stops where she is confronted with the unheroic and commercialised world she wishes to escape.
--The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick is a 1970 short novel by the Austrian Nobel prize-winning writer Peter Handke. It was adapted into 1972 a film with the same title, directed by Wim Wenders.
A goalkeeper is sent off during a game for dissent. He spends the night with a cinema cashier, whom he afterward kills. Although a type of detective film, it is more slow-moving and contemplative than other films of the genre.
It explores the monotony of the murderer's existence and, like many of Wenders' films, the overwhelming cultural influence of America in post-war West Germany. Late in the movie, the goalkeeper and a traveling salesman attend a football game and witness a penalty kick. The goalkeeper describes what it is like to face a penalty: should he dive to one side, and if he does will the kicker aim for the other? It is a psychological confrontation in which each tries to outfox the other. In parallel with this, the goalkeeper, rather than go on the run, has returned to his home town and is living in plain sight. He doesn't know if the police are looking for him in particular, and the police are not necessarily looking for someone who isn't trying to hide.
--A Moment of True Feeling. Gregor Keuschnig works for the Embassy of Austria in Paris. One day he wakes up from a dream where he murdered a woman. From this moment his life seems pointless and the world around him distant. He goes through his daily routine and interacts with his colleagues, his mistress, and his family, but feels lost and out of balance. He observes everything around him in search of a sensation that feels genuine.
--The Moravian Night is a 2008 novel by the Austrian writer Peter Handke. It tells the story of a retired writer who talks about a recent journey and the state of Europe in front of a small crowd on his houseboat, while anchored outside the village Porodin on the river Morava in Serbia.
--My Year in the No-Man's-Bay (German: Mein Jahr in der Niemandsbucht) is a 1994 novel by the Austrian writer Peter Handke. It follows a writer's attempt to describe a metamorphosis he went through two decades earlier when he stopped being confrontative and instead became a passive observer. The task proves to be difficult and most of the book is instead concerned with the lives of the narrator, his family and the people in the Paris suburb where he lives. The book is 1066 pages long in its original German. It was published in English in 1998, translated by Krishna Winston.
--Repetition is a 1986 novel by the Austrian writer Peter Handke. It tells the story of an Austrian of mixed German and Slovenian heritage, who goes to communist Yugoslavia in a search for identity. David Pryce-Jones of The New York Times wrote "The intention is to shatter Austrian complacency, utterly to reject the national conspiracy of silence and evasion, so that the Austrian at last can be his own man. Admirable as this would be, Mr. Handke is not the writer for it. To some extent, the alienation of this novel is attributable to the deliberate distancing of its style." Pryce-Jones continued: "More crucially, Repetition reveals one man set so implacably against his fellows that he can do nothing but pity himself and hate them. Surrender to these reactions serves to extend the Nazi legacy rather than to destroy it. New beginnings without humanity are not new beginnings at all."
--Short Letter, Long Farewell is a 1972 novel by the Austrian writer Peter Handke. It tells the story of a young Austrian writer who travels across the United States in search of his wife from whom he is estranged. The film director John Ford appears as a character who brings resolution at the end of the road on the coast of California. His film Young Mr. Lincoln also serves as a point of reference and an antidote to the alienation experienced by the stranger crossing the States. The novel shares many themes and motifs with the film Alice in the Cities from 1974, directed by Handke's frequent collaborator Wim Wenders; the film can be seen as a response to the book.
--A Sorrow Beyond Dreams is a 1972 semi-autobiographical novella by the Austrian writer Peter Handke. It is based on the life of Handke's mother.
Thomas Curwen of the Los Angeles Times wrote in 2003: "Mental illness is a phrase you won't find in Handke's account of his mother's death, yet it surely waits in the wings. ... While the pleasure, if this is the word, of reading Handke comes from the existential assumptions of his story, it is important to realize that suicide -- the reality, as opposed to the idea (which Camus seemed to savor) -- is not an existential dilemma. It is the final, tragic outcome of a psychiatric illness. Yet how prepared are we for this knowledge?"