Wednesday, July 28, 2010

OUTLINE REVIEW OF freiheit des schreibens ZSOLNAY VERLAG, Kasterberger, edito


Profile 16, Peter Handke
Freiheit des Schreibens - Ordnung der Schrift – herausgegeben von Klaus Kastberger
Erscheinungsdatum: 07.09.2009
Flexibler Einband, 352 Seiten
Preis: 21.50 € (D) / 37.50 sFR (CH) / 22.10 € (A)
ISBN 978-3-552-05476-9

[Ausgangspunkt des Bandes ist die betonte Eigenständigkeit der Literatur von Peter Handke. Eine Art zu schreiben, die oft quer zur veröffentlichten Meinung steht und sich planvoll gegen äußere Vorgaben zur Wehr setzt. Legendär sind Handkes Auftritte vor der Gruppe 47 ebenso wie seine Theaterstücke und Bücher - von der "Publikumsbeschimpfung" über "Wunschloses Unglück" bis zur "Morawischen Nacht". Beflügelt von frühen Erfolgen vermochte sich der Autor in einer jahrzehntelang weiterentwickelten Schreibarbeit als autonomer Dichter zu etablieren. Auch die vieldiskutierten Aufsätze über Jugoslawien zeigen: Aus dem alltäglichen Schreiben und den konkreten Ausformungen der Schrift gewinnt er die dazu notwendige poetische Kraft. Ein fundierter Beitrag zur neueren deutschen Literaturwissenschaft mit zahlreichen Faksimiles aus dem Vorlass des Autors am Österreichischen Literaturarchiv und aus anderen Sammlungen.]

FREIHEIT [for short], is a large-size, elegantly produced, paperback of 350 pages, appr. 500 word per printed page; and, overall, is a first collection of essays about various aspects of Handke's work. What makes it essential are the seventy pages  - p.31-72 + 157-182 - of documentary material from the Austrian national Handke Archive, and fascinating indeed it is to see Handke’s diaries on which he draws in his very own way for his books, manuscripts and galley corrections and photos, drawings, etc. etc, and photos of the salt works that provide the background for his operatic novel KALI. Nearly worth the reasonable price of admission itself. The Austrian National Archive and the German collection in Marbach got their moneys worth - two payments of E 500,000 the reports say and our upstart can continue to haunt five star hotels. Moreover, Ullrich von Buelow, a medium distant relative, provides an excellent lead-in into the archival material.

Broadly speaking, the content addresses various works of Handke’s going back to his 1980-1987 Salzburg period and earlier, to the then most recently published [2007/8] MORAWISCHE NACHT and DIE KUCKUCKE VON VELICA HOCA, and certain interesting aspects of his work, GOETHE/HANDKE, MUSIL/HANDKE… the subject of Stifter crops up frequently but no single essay addresses itself to the subject STIFTER/ HANDKE, [which I compared recently in my long piece on DEL GREDOS by taking a close look, and translating passages from WITIKOV]...

...or, say, to that of Handke/and the Grilled Seal [Robbe-Grillet] something that of course has been done earlier on... or for that matter address the development  of this driven virtuoso genius phenomenologist from his early work - from 1964/5 to the current work.

Most of these essays are first rate, Hans Hoeller’s on VELICA HOCA a standout – even though I read KUCKUCKE twice Hoeller proved an eye-opener; as are Fabjan Haffner and Elisabeth Schwaegerle’s on Handke and translation which are on line PICASSA ALBUM WEB PAGES via links at respective pages at the and at
Georg Pichler’s on HANDKE/ GOETHE has been on the scriptmania site long prior to publication of FREIHEIT and so is Karl Wagner’s on MUSIL/ HANDKE now, essayings which can be found at:

as well as at threspective pages of the:

and its links to their Picassa web albums.

Ditto for Katharina Pektor's piece on CHINESE DES SCHMERZENS  [ACROSS is its idiotic American title] - very useful that provided the jump-off points, its denials did, for me to take a depth psychological perspective at our author; from Ms. Pektor's piece and the documentation we get a notion how Handke manages to project himself into his texts that then so powerfully hold the real reader.

Leopold Federmaiers piece on the Kunjunktiva in Handke's developing epic style is utterly pertinent; so is Thomas Deichmann's piece on traveling with Handke in Yugoslavia and amplifies what we already know about from these matters from Handke himself and Scott Abbott on these matters. Deichman emphasizes the autobiographic nature of Handke's work, without addressing the more interesting question of how this Cezanne of the word manages to create a different view of Mont St. Victoire every time he sets out - after all, Handke does not repeat himself. That is, Deichmann as well as the other contributors fail to address the question of form, or why Handke's are as graceful as they are, why most of them describe that "line" - the line of a shapely breast! As seen from the side!

Raimund Fellinger on the development of MY YEAR IN THE NO-MANS-BAY makes someone like me who read the book five times and then wrote at length about it, want to run to the site where the galleys and versions are kept to see what's been cut, etc.
The over-all editor Klaus Kasteberger is in a position to indulge himself in his essay on KALI     in dwelling at length on my adolescent favorite, Stendhal’s  ON LOVE, in connection with the KALI's love theme,  and discussing the significance of salt, before admitting that it really is of little pertinence - that is, he avoids the artistic and formal and thematic issues that that again extraordinary book raises.

I discuss it only briefly so far on the page devoted to KALI at: 

 Surprisingly, the volume, which has the crème de la crème of Austrian Germanistik and Handke studies as contributors [Fellinger and travel companion Thomas Deichmann, I think, are the only non-Austrians in the volume] lacks anything by Handke’s first reader/ out of house editor Peter Hamm. Perhaps he is all written out on the subject, as I am not quite.

 The one rather disappointing piece is on Handke’s later plays. Since I translated all the plays up to and including WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES, I recall wondering how that ultimate anti-boulevard boulevard play THE RIDE ACROSS LAKE CONSTANCE would actually play – I had directed the other early one or participated in rehearsals, and so had an idea of what effect they produced, and was then astounded that RIDE left me entirely addicted to the STATE OF MIND – refreshed, mind wiped clean, that RIDE produced at its American premiere in 1971 at Lincoln Center. And during its five week run would go for just a ten minute hit! Better than the best cocaine any day! HOUR has the same effect and does so without juggling words, it is just a series of images and a movement when you see it – and in fact it leaves you reborn. As far as I am concerned, Handke achieves what Brecht set out to do: a non-Aristotelian catharsis – that, too, I imagine my neurological scalp cap could ascertain – the health of the group depends on the health of the minds of its members. I am uncertain whether the 3-D spectacles in movie houses perform the same necessary trick.

Leopold Federmair contributes a useful reading of how Handke roots his work in
localities, as is of course evident to anyone who has read the THREE ASSAYINGS or the novels.

The volume also contains a good, not great, interview with Handke who continues to give good interview in serious times, or have his coy fun with folks like Andreas Mueller. However, if the book length Gamper/ Handke interview of 1986 ICH LEBE DOCH NUR VON DEN ZWISCHENRAEUMEN sets the standard for an important Handke interview the current Kastberger/ Schwaegerle - comes in as a B. It fails to follow up on certain most important matters that Gamper addressed or which Handke offered there of his own free will. It is too deferential: when Handke baldly states "I don't have a poetics"  no one seems to recall the poetics as expressed in a wonderful passage in WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES.

I miss something on the several matters that interest me:

A] the experience of reading Handke – how via what he does with language, no matter that he changes over the years, reading Handke constitutes a very particular experience – which, say in DEL GREDOS, conveys the writers love of writing in such a way as to put me – I don’t think and I know it is just nutty me – into a finely agape state of mind. THE READER in NO-MAN’S-BAY and also in MORAWIAN NIGHT is one side of Handke’s artistic self – and being not just psychoanalytically half-well trained but also paying the proper deference to the ever neurological interface of our mind am planning to try to get one of my friends in that field to put an electronic cap on my brain to see how the brain changes while reading Handke! Handke as better medicine than anti-depressants – which I have never taken, and which is surprising since Handke absorbed his mother’s depression intra-uterine and is a depressive who for a considerable time during his prolonged adolescence suffered from suicidal impulses. Yet utterly self-confidente prima primadonna initially. The conqueror of fear, writing, now, conveys his love of existence. Still a primadonna though! The book lacks a biographical essay, and as is customary in the instances of these collections of essays about Handke, anything critical, he didn’t use to permit it, perhaps here, too.

B] No one seems interested in how these forms are conceived - or follows up on Handke's comment that he draws out the book for as long as possible, another version of
the 'Angel the longer the better."

1] “vom biograpischen aufgerollt” – since Handke projects himself re-imagined into his text, the naturalistic question of the autobiographical...?? interesting as this is when and if you write Handke’s biography, if anything shows the irrelevance of the biographical this might….unless you decide to explore what it means to be a genius who started to practice writing …. Thomas Deichman, the editor of NOVO, and traveling companion to Yugoslavia talks about that a bit. As I put it the other day to a Handke biographer: he might be goat with three heads, what counts is how she meckert! Thus the relationship between text and biography if one wishes to approach them in that manner needs to be carefully calibrated: in SHORT LETTER LONG FAREWELL we have the buddies “German Writer” “Austrian Dramaturg” and a wife who pursues… is that pursuit a physical representation of the neglected wife Libgart Schwartz’s longing, which is perceived as a threat, a very pronounced theme, once again, in MORAWIAN NIGHT, a threat to the solitary profession as a writer? His isolation? The fine analytic notion of “over-determination” and how each of these complicated locks can be unlocked, from one vault lock to the other…

2] “autistsiche Zusstaende” I would ask him to describe what he means and how he came to that formulation. Autists have been showing up in Handke’s recent work, idiots nearly from day one!

3] A closer probing of what those “threshold” inbetween-states consist of, or are comparable to in the case of someone as super ultra hypersensitive as Handke is.

4] Why Handke, while going to the Milosevic funeral and visiting him in jail and in general coming to the defense of the Serbians being made exclusively responsible for the disintegration and the atrocities [do you ever come on, except with me and Choussevsky, on the suggestion that economic warfare ought to be regarded as a crime on the order of war crimes?]… why Handke then did not follow the request of Milosevic and family to be an expert witness for the defense; after all, he offers no explanation in DIE TABLAS DES DAMIEL for his refusal, and didn’t even write the requested letter to the tribunal!!!???

5] What he meant when he said “I am writing out of my wound – has he configured its complicated nature, at least for himself?

6} Is he meanwhile aware that the list of matters that tired him as he recounts them in Essay on Tiredness all derive from intense rage?

7] Gamper’s observation about a certain naturalistic use of linguistic material on Handke’s part.

8] Re what I hint at above with his texts and the experience of his plays being fairly unique experiences – does he have an image of a reader and how he wishes that ideal reader to experience when he composes. I myself prefer to think of Handke as a composer.

9] are we to believe, from Morawian Night, that, as a young man, he left an illegitimate child behind in Cordula/ Krk?

10] and for good measure: does he still beat up his women and the like when they step out of line?

11] And perhaps, following up on a wish he expressed to Mueller, that he would like once in his life to "behave like a Schuft" - whether he feels that Mueller's idea that he had lots of time left to do that, whether he had managed to accomplish that too?


p. 5 MEINE FUELLFEDER [my pen] an essay written for school, 1956, aged fourteen.


p.31-72 WERK MATERIAL on: Kaspar,  Ride Across Lake Constance, They Are Dying Out, A Slow Homecoming, Austrian Poem, The History of the Pencil, Two Letters to Rene Char, Voyage by Dugout, Lamenting, in Tears; Del Gredos; Hanging around the Tribunal; the Milosevics Funeral Speech; a letter to the magazine FOCUS; Subday Blues; Morawian Night.

p. 73 Fabjan Hafner, on Handke as translator, on-line at the handke translation site and the handke-scholar blog via Picassa album here;

p. 87 Elisabeth Schwagerle, on Handke translator, as above accessible in the same manner via the translation site and the scholar blog.

p. 109 Katharina Pektor on Across: “How do I approach Loser’s story.” Fascinating!

p. 133 Raimund Fellinger, on the creation of NO-MAN’S BAY. Fascinating!

p. 143 Klaus Kasterberger, on KALI see my note above. Provides extraordinarily interesting background material.

p. 157-174 WERK MATERIAL on the creation of THE CHINESE OF THE WATER TORTURE [Across], NO-MAN’S BAY, KALI [great photos of the salt works which become so very present in the reading of the book].

p. 183 Thomas Deichmann TRAVELING WITH PETER HANDKE [Klaus Peymann, too, is absent in these pages, who not only did some actual traveling to Kosovo with Handke, but had all those trips prior to the premieres. Bondy, too, might have some interesting matters to say.

p. 205 Hans Hoeller’s terrific piece on KUCKUCKE OF VELICA HOCA.

p. 222 Michael Hansel HANDKE AND THE PENCIL.

P. 237 Ulrich von Buelow, the archivist of these Euro 500,000 papers!


p. 281 Georg Pichler on Handke and Goethe which has been online with the scriptmania site for many years, and can also be found on the

p.294 Karl Wagner, HANDKE/ MUSIL accessible Picassa web album
HANDKE-SCHOLAR and via the handkeprose2.scriptmania site and via its page on the handke-scholar blog. These blogs exist to encourage discussion.

p. 306 Leopold Federmair: ON THE RELATIONSHIP BETWEEN CHRONICLE AND THE EPIC in Handke’s work. Need to re-read it. Very interesting so far.

p. 325 Alexander Honold: DECIPHERING THE ECUMENICAL… need to finish reading what looks like a very obscure approach TO ME!

p. 347 Index of Authors... which, oddly, list a Clemens Oezelt who however
does not have a piece in the collection, but appears to be working on the "polphonous" in Handke, which sounds fascinating.


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