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Sunday, September 4, 2016



Matters did not start of badly.
There were friendly noises from the NY Times, Mel Gussow, at the first Handke performance in 1971, Frank Conroy of Goalie, Dick Gilman wrote a nice essay on Handke in his The Making of Modern Drama, which would have  been better if he had written it after he had seen performances of the plays and come to appreciate their effect & given thought to their relation to the activism of the happening aethetic.

At the NYRB Frank Kermode & Michael Wood made friendly noises about the early work, but then  matter went south, even prior to Handke’s contentious engagement to salvage the Serbian from being accused of exclusive responsibility for the disintegration and crimes committed 
(the only one you may recall who were prohibiteed from being nationalists whereas the rest were encourageed, by the West!)
there in his love of a united
2nd Federation;
that is of his zany love of a
United Yugoslavia .

leads to a host of information on that aspect

I always thought that this Roger Cohen

that makes Slobodan Milosevic exclysivelly responsible for what occurred in that part of the world, that this dreadful piece’s simple-mindedness captured the essence of how the great majority came to think = think? – on this matter.
I myself spent a least a year of my life during a 20 year period thinking, trying to figure out what happened, also of and about Handke’s involvement & 
now think his Slovenian grandfather
- that man’s voting in favor of the first Federation that was done in by the Nazis-  played a significant role. 
I myself ended up, most unexpectedly considering my initial apprehensions, quite proud of Handke’s intervention; initially I had found it suspect. I still wish that he had chosen to write about the matter in the dog language, say, of  some kind of political sociologist in which case I doubt that he would have been as misunderstood and maligned, misread or not read at all, as he then was for taking his own poetic approach, not that Handke might not have gone about the matter differently in other respects as well and not doubled down in his contrarian way and antagonized the sheeples so as to incurr the bleating wrath of the intellectual pret-a-porters.
Susan Sontag, who had spent time exhibiting herself as war tourist in Sarajevo rehearsing Beckett’s  End Game, then stated that „Handke was finished in New York” whereas she might have spent time checking out the game that was being played in the region and not become a „human rights hyena” par excellence.
That is I suppose what upset me most, that a certain fraction from a country that had killed millions in the most war criminal manner during the past 50 years then decided to have an orgy of righteousness in this matter!
Handke himself claimed that Habermas finished himself off as a philosopher for justifying the NATO bombing to get Milosevic to grant the Kosovo Albanians their independence and so Handke became guilty of gratuitous verbal violence of his own:
Not a pretty picture that parallel war of words, not at all and the best thing that came out of it verbally was Handke’s great modular play

A smart Brechtian director would know how to adopt it to a lot of contemporary situations.
 But even now the verbal skirmishing continues:
whe  we find a Professor Durantaye calling Handke an asshole for his involvement.
Meself always loved the fact that as of the beginning of the internecine intellectual warfare the likes of Salmon Rushdie, these famous Balkan experts, crowed what an idiot Hanke was who had been walking in those parts since childhood. If I weren’t so concerned about the lining of my stomach you could imagine what I could not stop doing in that respect and in so many others.
Handke himself („aufmuepfig” is the wonderful Austrian adjective that fits a nearly preternatural side of his – an uppit mosquito comes to mind - happens to be the kind of fellow who doubles down on his position when attacked; occasionally he encounters someone who will double down to the same extent, and that is something he cannot handle at all! 
I sought to find a publisher for a big collection of these writing on Yugoslair of his and must have approached fifty of the scholars in that field: Nada – you can calumnize an author in typical Americasn McCarthyite fashion – this time also chiefly from left-field though a host of rigt wing oBsniaks chimed in, too - but won’t give him a chance to speak up, which in this instance meant to make available the pertinent – also amusing! - writings, well introduced, by someone who knows his way around Handke & Yugoslavia, the recently deceased Fabjian Haffner is whom I had in mind.  

In addition to the below 
I want to call attention to certain stand-outs
in this gallery of infamy,
 and memorialize a number of local and West Coast infamies, Arne Zaslove here in Seattle a former artistic director of the Bathouse Theater who wasted his venue for a grandiose fantasy and who never read a single word of Handke’s yet nonethless a few weeks ago e-mailed me to the effect that he had no interest in anything having to do with Handke – that is, ZaZaGaborlove is a prime example of the parochial; and a 
;  Harold Jaffe, editor of Fiction International in San Diego whom Handke friend the novelist and professor emeritus at San Diego Stat Erich Wolfgang Skwara once took on a tour of Handke’s book-ridden house in Chaville, outside Paris, and who commuicated two matters about Handke to me, that he found Handke “fat” 
(Jaffe only saw the inside of the house, he never met Handke)
And that Handke was “utter bullshit.”
I had not asked Jaffe anything about Handke but was merely trying to get ak in touch with Skwara two of whose novels, including the marvelous 
Plague in Sieana (Ariadne Book)
5hat I translated around 1990. 
Utterly gratuitous expressions of hate, coming from an alleged editor!!
All kinds of worms in the woodworks in other words. 

 The fella by the name of  delaRuntaye in Orange County who called Handke an “asshole” in the London Review of Books

has been dealt with above.

Seattle Handke reception links

 I am not quite sure to whom award first prize but I think that 
Steven Marcus
who did the most damage for the simple reason that his piece appeared in the the NYRB

is most deserving, not because he is unsympathetic to Handke’s stand on Yugoslavia but for his ignorant belittling of Handke’s abilities and specific talents such as dream writing. It is one of numerous instances where a political disagreement is then used to denigrate an author’s work,
and of course this piece of shit is so deserving its blue ribbon for having apppeared in the allegedly marvelously edited NYRB! That then refuses to engage in an online discussion.

  . For individual very worst we have
David Price Jones
 who uses Handke’s THE REPETITION to express his animus of Marshal Tito – the editor who greenlighted the infamy comes in for a session with Hieronymus Bosch as does David Siegel for his ignorant, incompetent and snarky review of MY YEAR IN THE NOMAN’S BAY as does Neil Gordon for his of
 Sierra del Gredos.

These pieces do a disservice to literature & to potential readers, not just to the author who of course I anything but a saint. 
In INNERWORLD Handke once wrote a poem where he stated that he, too., had problems, and boy does he ever. Yet after a 50 year acquainted with this oddball bastard from Griffen Voelkermark Carinthia I have to admit that despite finding him to be in many ways as ordinary as the next monkey with some seriously reprehensible qualities
I find him to be yet the most marvelous person I have encountered especially for the experience with his work
which polarity leaves me in the enviably ambivalent position to be able to “call ‘em as I see work” much of which has afforded me the most unique literary experiences in my life, a matter in which, fortunately,
I am not entirely alone.  

Then in the matter of U.S. Handke critique there are certain uniquely American instances such as wetback Benjamin Weiss suggesting to Handke in the L.A. Times Book Review that he should take a leaf from Thomas Bernhard in writing his next Assaying as I think of Handke’s essayistic explorations… and I suppose a passion fruit will turn into a sea urchin!

Another gross instance of Handke’s Yugoslav Politics being used to denigrate his work can be found in the American Scholar

where a McDonald uses the occasion of Handke’s “scandalous” appearance at the Milosevic funeral to question his genius for being allegedly under the influence or the grilled robbe, quoting John Updike as an authority,  but failing to quote a Handke or Robbe-Grillet text where he might have the slightest of cases if he had known Handke’s second novel, DER HAUSIERER, which some German scholars find was influenced in that fashion. I myself see none really unless you think a very cool way of playing with immense anxiety and literary forms (black mask detective fiction)
requires Robbe-Grillets orderly procedures. You could claim as easily that Handke in this book was influenced by Virginia Woolf, and no doubt the crowds would run panting to buy it!
Yes, look at this piece of shit, in the frigging Phi Beta Kappa backed 
American Scholar!

Amazing to behold after fifty years that I would reprint ONLY one single piece from those that have appeared in the NY Times, and that the only pieces overall that are worth repreinting are William Gass’s on Noman’s Bay from the L.A. Times Book Review
-wonders will not cease!-
a piece that appeared in Cosmo where the writer actually understood what Handke was doing in 
One Dark Nigt I Left my Silent House!

See below blog for all of this:

So maybe Mother Theresa really was a Saint???

Tuesday, August 30, 2016


 My - Michael Roloff’s - Experience with Peter Handke’s Texts


As I mention in a fun essay @

I had no initial intention of translating the early Handke plays when I acquired them for Farrar, Straus & Giroux in the late 60s, I was just testing what translator to give the work, which then turned out to be fun, KASPAR becoming a bit strenuous!
[see notes]
 Handke’s performance at Princeton in May 1966 had intrigued me & at the party that Jakov Lind and Pannah Grady and I gave for the Gruppe 47 at Pannah’s splendid apartment in the Dakota in Manhattan I had tried to find out what writers Handke had in mind whose work he objected to at Princeton
(that he called himself “the new Kafka” I only found out later from Ted Ziolkovsky);
In the query process got a hint of someone who was certainly spirited in his Beatles get-up and small-checkered brown shirt with the flower in the button hole and the grin of a village sadist at a certain very memorable moment at which Alan Ginsberg earned life-long contempt.

The texts of the Sprechstuecke did not come out of the blue for someone who had become familiar with the work of the Wiener Gruppe – whether I realized the very classical manner in which Handke even then used language I do not recall. Comparatively speaking though, my tastes were more conservative at the time though the term conservative becomes quickly useless, but I was a Musil man & theatrically a Brechtian who liked and felt close to a lot of German writers from the 20s and 30S and not only to the postwar crew with whose work I had familiarized myself during the then past six years.

Of Handke’s prose I did Goalie

 but even though I was reading Roman Jakobson, Wittgenstein and especially Noam Chomsky’s work on language I did not figure out until later the degree to which Handke’s dissociative grammatical procedures [Handke had made it a point to consult a text on schizophrenia and language for the writing of GOALIE] actually worked, in addition to the evident more standard phenomenology. Thus it will not surprise the reader that I became especially sensitive to astonishing formal grammatical maneuvers in later work such as One Dark Night, Absence & Sierra del Gredos.
Instances where Handke uses dream metaphor – Afternoon of a Writer’s use of dream metaphor
does not really require recourse to contemporary analytic psychology, Shakespeare or Faulkner would have been capable of similar metaphoric efficiency and depth.

Handke’s first novel
Die Hornissen

I realized at once was nothing I could put over at Farrar, Straus where I had a fief for German literature.
Even now HORNETS presents problems for me in understanding how it works - perhaps it demands too much work from the reader – see anon on the subject of how Handke involves the reader in unusual ways.
Had I been a junior editor at Grove, which had Fred Jordan and Richard Seaver, or at Viking, my own publisher, both places I would much have preferred to work than at Farrar Straus, I might have persuaded friend Fred to do Hornets – but was Hornissen sufficiently perverse for this incarnation of Austro-British love of perversity?
HORNISSEN was too experimental for me to try it out at FSG where a very limited non-standard experimental work found a home, Donald Barthelme, Susan Sontag’s early novels, and the early Tom Wolfe – these were all Henry Robbins authors, the one editor with whom I connected and who soon left. I ought to have tried Hornets out with Susan Sontag who, after all, had endorsed Handke’s early plays which had helped in putting him over. My oversight I realize in retrospect!
  FSG’s tenor was conservative. I published Nossack there, Nelly Sachs, Christa Wolf. These are main-line authors. And some fine things -including an Adorno reader I had spent a year developing and that Susan was going to write an introduction to - were shot down by one particular nemesis [see anon]. I was quite young and had not encountered back-stabbing or envy until that time, and more insecure than I am now.
Matters changed with the publication of Handke’s second novel, DER HAUSIERR

the book from which he had read at Princeton and reading an excerpt from which can’t possibly give the reader an idea of how it works.
The Peddler or Tramp or Intinerant, Panhandler
as the title might be translated, drew me in at once for the work & play it required & discipline on the part of the reader, the lightness with which it treated a fright that is in fact extremely sinister, and the way literature - black mask American detective fiction -
 is used as a defense: there!
That is the heart of Handke’s endeavor at that time!
Defensive/ aggressive – but against what terror!?
It pervades his early work and I understood why he had also pronounced himself
“The New Kafka”
at Princeton!
{We all recall Franz calling himself “the First”!}
 Now that I’ve had a fine course in psychoanalysis I appreciate
even more and what lies in back of it!
It was also a very well done work, as delicate as Virginia Woolf at her best,
and so it became part of the first contract but was replaced by the far simpler,

which seems a very logical outgrowth from Hausierer, it so obviously derived, and there was a time I knew exactly at what point I figured the idea for the later book had occurred to Handke while he was writing DER HAUSIER. The pre-occupation, obsession with anxiety and fear and how to overcome it are at their strongest and most complex and deepest and demanding here, a period which ends
after he had explored anxiety
in the fear drenched

My Foot My Tutor

MF/MT is also the essence of the Master/Slave & S/M
It is a beautiful text and I think it was pre-published in TDR, by Erika Munk.

The other fear and terror drenched text is
HOESPIEL I/ Radio Play I

Every sentence each word become drenched in fearful associations. And yet matters always remain in some sense very literary, as Bob Giroux remarked about KASPAR who certainly has his terrors, too. A ritualizing literariness as defence against fear! in childhood night’s the defender would have been masturbating would be Kohut’s guess. -
One silly question that keeps haunting me is whether a book like Der Hausierer
might be of homeopathic use, as an inoculation,
instead of taking anti-anxiety drugs! Was Handke writing as “surrogate” as he was in the early plays? I certainly led a much terrorized German childhood, too, and bombers were part of it as of Spring 1940.

  Meanwhile Handke has pronounced himself the anti-Kafka,
it took a while to appreciate that.
He was not going to be done in by fear, if he could possibly help it and had a mother to back him up, internally and externally,
I even found an exemplary example
for the stilling of anxiety in one of the texts from the early INNERWORLD
where you can see and feel and experience Handke overcoming anxiety in the writing  

 Is there anything more self-empowering and grandiose-making then the ability to conquer fear,
and not by rationalizing it away?
Thus no wonder that the justifiably anxiety-disposed Handke would be writing all the time and, as we now know, from Malte Herwig’s biography

 The biography may not be immediately useful in adding to appreciation of Handke’s texts, but Herwig has done some good “shoe leather” work & come up with a lot of matters, also quite unfavorable about Handke the person which confirmed certain suspicions I myself had in that regard.
Handke, the person, who is not the focus, may be in many respects the most marvelous marvel I have encountered in a not altogether parched life, but as there is a devil in Ms. Jones there exists a monster and it is not sacred  in Handke.
Nor is how the person and the work relate the focus here, although this relationship –
= and its varieties -
will be/ cannot help but be entertained in the
 Morawian Night

Handke practiced writing as of an early age the way some pianists and violinists start out and would say later on
“I am so nervous but everything I write is then so calm.”
and by the time that he composed



       he wrote me, and probably not only me, that he
“was now capable of doing anything in writing”
-  a matter I think you ought to think of as coming from a composer who now had complete and virtuoso control over his métier –
-  = that is he senses he has the right way of presenting matters in his artistic way -
-  something that was confirmed by the composition of the 1981 dramatic poem
-  See anon.
By the time of
Handke, however, had suffered anxiety attacks against which no writing would protect him,
See the three progressively stormier poems in


Thus I have always regretted thatI didn’t manage to get
Der Hausierer
 done in English as it has been in all other major languages.
HAUSIERER requires, asks the same kind of work on the part of the reader that is asked of audiences at Handke’s plays that
Klaus Kastberger has called attention to,
a matter that requires yet another assaying to be explored to a further extent.

By that time I myself was getting hooked
also on what the performance of the plays can effect

When a trial run proved much fun I then did I all the plays up to and including the 1981
 Walk About the Villages
 as I state in its long postscript
part of it is online at

 has it,
  had left me a husk, gasping for air.
Nor had I any intention of participating in the directing these plays & I would not have I suppose if U.S theater had been on the ball and friend, actor, author Michael Locascio had not returned from San Miguel D’Allende in 1070 with his hippie troupe, including one J.B. in whose arms “The Hammer” breathed his last on some railways ties one cold Mexican tequila nite,
   and we did the first rehearsed readings at a variety of venues all over New York.

In the instance of
The Ride Across Lake Constance
I had not the faintest what to expect of a performance
and would never have been able to formulate the experience if I had not done an analysis and come to understand that what is called a “good hour” is subliminally cathartic.  The insistent shock therapy of
Offending the Audience an analyst at the Goethe House performance compared to first-rate group therapy.
Thus I sensed from early on, with all these texts, that they were experienced in ways other than the more usual drama, not that drama of every kind constitutes an experience of some kind; but Handke’s early work I think is best approached via the
“happening” aesthetic.


As I was leaving from one of these peculiar early 1970s visits to Handke’s domicile on the Rue Montmorency in Paris -
- Handke, typically, quickly tiring of his visitors but then, invariably, asking them to come again

(MORAVIAN NIGHT, at the beginning as the guests arrive, contains an allusion to this modus) -
 Handke gave me a copy of
Als das Wuenschen noch geholfen hat
and said that if I wanted to I might want to translate its three long poems, which became the volume
in American and was published by Urizen Books in 1976.
Handke himself described these poems as successor to those in
which I translated
-  again a lot of fun! -
 and published at Continuum Books in 1974.
Only with respect to the chronological truth of successors however, do these three, successively stormier, poems

relate to the prior very varied collection. Whereas quite a few of the prior poems featured very concrete moments of anxiety, these three poems seemed to deal with the time once anxiety had struck and knocked the recipient’s socks off into a state of panic – and so it is not all that surprising that around that time Handke ended up in a hospital with a panic-induced tachycardia attack and started to take valium, two pieces of information I only gathered later.

So what had happened to the fellow who was riding high, a multiple best-selling author Buechnerprize winner lay-a-broad par excellence who had found a way of conquering fear, the anti-Kafka, what had laid him low?

First of all I would say
The suicide of Handke’s mother,
Maria Sivec
as evidence in Handke’s

seemed to have induced the kind of shocked state in which that book is so evidently composed.
Secondly, wife # I, the rasante
actress Libgart Schwartz who haunts the “German author” in
-  (the physical equivalent of her longing I expect is what Handke sensed but did little to respond to!

had escaped what
Handke ,far in the future, in
would describe as
“the cold salamander”
(writing hotly!)
and one would assume, the constant insult of a multiply cheating husband who himself, in pasha fashion, would of course not allow even one of his affairs to have a second lover!
 A Libgart Schawartz who sought refuge with Klaus Peymann, the director of Handke’s plays.
All I, translator and Suhrkamp Verlag representative, knew in 1971, when Handke and his wife and fellow Austrian cultural package content Freddie Kolleritsch, S.L.L.F. dramaturg, arrived in New York, was that daughter Amina, who had been shown to me in Berlin
(where I had gone IN 1969 to discuss my translation of his play KASPAR)
 had been left with Handke’s mother.
That Handke’s wife would leave him unless he radically changed his way was eminently evident to someone who would have much preferred not to be the SuhrkRampF agent in New York and to have had the money to abscond with rasante Libgart,
And during the so typically Elaine’s Big Table under the table hanky-panky
I failed to slip one of those yellow Elaine’s matchbooks into her hot clever hands hand with my # and the suggestion
And the utterly delightful actress thus did not have the opportunity to call the number
and ask
“Ist da beim Frisuer”
And I did not have the opportunity to deliver the line
“Ja, Spezialangebot fuer Schamhaare heute!”
 at which point Handke would have started to fugue a few years sooner than he did and we would have been the kind of interesting but typical scandal that attends the life of authors.

However, the focus here is not on my personal relationship to the author and on respective lay-abroad-ness and of man-eaters and Jezebels and space-cadets and bimbos but on Handke’s texts.
Whereas my relationship until NONE-SENSE
 had been chiefly one of great verbal delight
(with some strenuousness in the KASPAR translation)
 but little emotional involvement,
-as there were few passages in these texts that were overtly emotional but for one note of pathos in

the reading of
and translation of the three poems in
started to involve matters of my heart.
However, I also could not help noticing that during moments of relief from the attack of nonsense - as which Handke experienced the onslaught of the storm - there were periods of
great musicality in the text
-   which have deeply entered my verbal being so that I have caught myself a few times over the years in reprieving their mode-
This confirmed that if anything would cure him as it had previously of fear it would be his kind of beauty which pretty much is my kind of beauty, too. Handke, I recall loved the word “humbug” that I found to transate “Unsinn/non-sense”


At about the time in 1973 that I returned from a six-month half-way around the world and back trip on the Hellenic Splendor and sent Handke my translation of the extraordinarily important
(see anon)
I received to translate his
Unvernuenftigen Sterben Aus
{They Are Dying Out]
Handke’s only play with identifiably “real people”
And a curious work it was for someone who had made it a point to become well informed what constituted the “new left” [2] for the various shibboleths of that movement now found themselves in the mouths of all kinds of business folk, like ideological chaff, or dandruff – which constitutes the verbal fun of that piece and is one of its few connections with its otherwise so different immediate predecessor Ride Across Like Constance -
For that reason the play is sometimes regarded as a critique of capitalism, which I would say is a misreading of a very ambiguous text that, after all, also contains the ambiguous figure of business mogul would-be monopolist Quitt who an usual aesthetic appreciator of poetry, Stifter to be precise. Quitt & his servant Hans, shades of Brecht’s wonderful
Puntilla & his servant Mattei, modeled on the only mogul of that kind that Handke knew, our mutual acquaintance the Bull in the Chinashop publisher
Siegfried Unseld & his unhappy first marriage


Bob Kalfin at Chelsea theater Co who had done several of the first Handke productions in New York at B.A.M. turned the play down & Carl Weber and I, who now worked together, did not get it mounted until 1979 at the Yale Repertory Company. I myself subsequently always felt that if I had my druthers I would employ child actors, and the words in young mouths would in and of itself manifest what a peculiar language it was & what a thoroughly ambiguous piece it is.

While translating the piece Handke sent one small change with the note to excuse him that he had lost his concentration during the writing because he had not been well, a note that I found touching considering how minor the change was.

Subsequently in texts such as


you could sense the author recuperating from the crisis and entering a mytho-poetic way of experiencing.
I think Walter Benjamin’s great metaphor
“The work is the death mask of the experience”
applies to

However, as compared to some other writers of my acquaintance, Handke had not learned the lessons taught by his first wife’s leaving. It took the leaving of Wife II, Sophie Semin,
and his winning her back for the “cold Salamander” to learn to divide home & work space.



which I translated during my six month freighter trip
[as I did two volumes worth of H. M. Enzensberger essays]
is in many respect
the very heart of Handke and
it was the one time that my immersion in Joyce’s
proved fruitful.    
auditory projection screen:
The powerful of this world walk about the world stage mouthing mouthings that are thoroughly ambiguous.
And “As You Like it”
“the thing wherein I’ll captures the conscience of the king”.
The king of the modern stage is of course the audience.
is the clearest demonstration of Handke’s ambiguous endeavor,
and of his writing on that
difficult trapeze of ambiguity,
which is then what creates
and experienced ambiguity
-  at least theoretically -
leads not so much to
but to confusion which leads thoughtfulness
which leads to…



The first time, in 1980, that I read A GRADUAL HOME-COMING as I translate the title of the 1979 Handke novel Die Langsame Heimkehr,


made  - and still does upon each reading - an unusually powerful impact which methinks may be more than usually entirely subjective and related to a host of circumstances - certainly it differs greatly from my relationship to the preceding texts some of which I translated, as I did not HOMECOMING though I sometimes wish I had or rewrote Mannheim’s translation so as to impose at least a semblence of Handke’s pathose-drenched rhythms.

My relationship to this text has a backstory, several. Say, around 1070 Handke writes me and asks what American winters are like & I reply that New England winters are like Bavaria, Rocky Mountain winters are like those in the Alps and if he wants something really different he ought to check out Alaska. – It appears I forgot about winters in the Midwest and wind sweeping across the lake into Chicago. – Siberia!
In the later 70s Handke found time  - daughter Amina secured with mother Libgart Schwartz - to visit Alaska several times, the final time prior to writing HOMECOMING in Fall 1978. Subsequent to Handke’s leaving a green satchell in my Urizen Books office and retrieving it upon his return from a side trip to Frisco I think - we had one of those idyllic evening walks across the Brooklyn Bridge during a light snowfall. Meanwhile, as of the mid-70s certain actions of Handke’s – and not his odd ways as a host - had managed to spook the so spookable me, and emotionally I kept him though not his texts, at what I thought was a safe distance, and I noticed even then that I failed to engage where I might have fruitfully to certain comments of his, such as “how hard” New York was, a comment made within days of his moving into the Hotel Adams at 86th & Madison & Fifth: after all, for the discerning, just the sight of folks on Madison and Fifth or Park will suffice, won’t it?, familiar territory of mine since the mid-1050s, where he was about to set out to write HOMECOMING, and had one hell of a time getting beyond its initial sentence which he had been rehearsing internally, so he has stated, for years: “Sorger had outlived several of those who had become close to him, had ceased to long for anything but often felt a selfless love of existence and at times a need for salvation so palpable it weighed on his eyelids” – it reads in my slight alteration of Mannheim’s arythmic syntax. – Reading Handke‘s account of his struggles to get beyond this priestly opening sentence I wonder whether the truth or untruth of this pathos-ridden sentence may not have been the chief problem – how many people had Handke been close to aside his mother who had famously, as Handke made it, committed suicide so that Handke could write his in many ways most famous book,
Sorrow Beyond Dreams?

Or close to for that matter? The wife who had run away + in the early 70s? Freddie Kolleritch, the dramaturg of

Short Letter Long Farewell


looked to me closer than his wife.
Both still alive in 2016 & the interesting correspondence with Kolleritch

Schönheit ist die erste Bürgerpflicht

has been published meanwhile by Jung & Jung.

Unless of course Sorger is not entirely Handke but an imagined lens and responder seismograph personae just like the archeologist Loser of



 of a kind that Handke employs, also, in

Morawian Night

the sort of thing that might warn readers and especially reviewers from thinking that these personae and the author are synonomous or identical with each other, and even if they are? Can the really be and for how long and when???
  how so?
  To throw a host of wrenches into the forthcoming discussion.
   whereas, as readers, they ought to focus and respond to the text, or rather on what these texts do inside their minds where their reading eyes have transposed them and where they start to live effect second lives! – The reading experience, Watson!

-  Sorger sounds a though he is lonely is one matter that I take away from that sentence not that one would expect a young best-selling author who lives in Paris to be lonely unless (1) he has  burned a lot of bridges to those who were once close to him or (2) is socially just too damn difficult, for reasons -  as we eventually find out – that other bodies at boarding school nauseated the autistically challenged ultra sensitive but actually love imbued

complicated being!

If only life were simpler!

But if you want to be one hell of a lot lonelier go to Alaska my friend and muck around in the snow and unlees you have an assistant Laufer with you as does Sorger your only companion may be a lone wolf who may be hungry or just as lonlely as you! – The opening of the book is nearly the sentence of an old man, isn’t it? It made me think of the Austrian émigré biologist at the University of Alaska, Fairbanks who went out, the weather temperate, to check whether some ten foot urbeavers might have survived the last ice age in a volcanic hotsprings. - At any event, once Handke had overcome the hump of this sentence the book became the below described event in my life.

It was during that walk across the Brooklyn Bridge to have dinner at Michael Brodsky’s that Handke revealed to me that, though he had forgotten that it had been I who had sung the praises of Alaska
{not that it takes me to do that!)
he was going to write a book about Alaska - which revelation elicited instant concern of mine that anyone would dare something of the kind about such a huge and varied stretch of the earth after a few visits of a few weeks each. I myself had spent nine months in interior Alaska and had worked as a fire fighter along the Yukon and in the Brooks Range and then as a geological surveyor’s assistant in the Alaskan Range and in the vastness north of Fairbanks surveying what eventually became the road to Point Barrow and pipeline; an experience as a whole of a kind that I did not want to repeat, wanted to leave undisturbed, it acquired a kind of sacred wholeness incomparable or associatable to any other, but Handke was not interested in my Alaska stories – he said he was full-up, which I understood since I was still full-up nearly 20 years after the event. But despite being spooked, the mother hen in me expressed a certain anxiety and asked if he had done some reading, at least John McPhee’s wonderful big book.
He had of course, as I ought to have known.
So much for initial backgrounding, which merely needs a few further paragraphs before we can get to the prolegema to the second significant.

Prior to returning to Europe Handke told Nancy Meiselas his then editor at Farrar, Straus that he felt he had fucked up the book – it appears it is a fragment with a mere three chapters of something that was conceived on a far grander scale. Grandiosity had come a cropper for once, for whatever reason, perhaps New York was the reason. Grandiosity would succeed many time during the coming decades. -
Handke did not show the m.s. to me and I think we saw each other only twice more during that visit, and I made sure to have the usual Michael Brodsky buffer along each time

I did not want to be alone with Handke if I could help it. If he had not done what he had done - behave schizophrenically??? - I suspect he would have had a much better time, I could have shown him a much better time if he had been game, than being locked up in his room high up in the Hotel Adams over-looking Central Park and talking at midnight to the Hotel Adam’s doorman as we read Sorger doing in the later parts of the book, and not complained back in Europe how cold New York was, and sought refuge with Hermann Lenz and - who knows? - might even have followed up on the once impulse of living in or around New York. I checked out for Handke several French lycees in New York that daughter Amina was meant to attend.     
I meself might have been working hard and late hours and in a difficult relationship with the working Urizen partner, precarious Urizen a permanent crises since its founding three years earllier, but I then went out around 10 or 11 p.m and played and at that time was not living with a lover and didn’t either have a real steady squeeze and haunted the clubs and wonderful bars in our downtown world and rarely ended up in bed alone, the darling hussies had become very forward, it was effortless, and so I had no problem, later, understanding Handke’s wonderful

Don Juan (as told by himself)


where the Don merely needs to lie back and the deliceuse clamber into his bed, irresistible heart-breakers the lot of them.


In Fall 1980 I spent a month working as an ICA cultural exchange parcel in Bulgaria and as a matter of fact worked my ass off running around trying to create the bridges for cultural peaceful co-existence and in the process became progressively more charged, it had to be from inhaling the rich air that the so rich Bulgarian soil exuded, I was not taking drugs of any kind, but swimming a lot, and but for one evening,
 in Plodviev,
 kept my intake of plum brandy to a minumum & I don’t think my wonderful young philosophical faculty guide was feeding me anything during our meals and the KGB was easily identified and I was resolved and succeeded in averting Mata Hari
[oh how proud I was of meself!]
On my return to the USA via Zurich and Frankfurt I was meant to stop by Salzburg where Handke had ended up during his gradual – St. Victoire {The Lesson of}- return.

In Vienna, the third time in my life, the first had been at age 6 for an operation to remove an infected vestigial gill, and there had not been a second until the trip to Sofia – the very prospect of Vienna and I kept falling ill! – until I took the plane to Sofia, Bulgaria, four weeks prior and now the third time after debarking Air Bulgaria’s version of the 727 that struck me as readily convertible into a troop transport.
A few days rest in Vienna were meant to coincide with one of my most delicious lovers, acquired during the preceding Frankfurt bookfair, holing up with me at a pension, who then did not show.

I had not read LANGSAME HEIMKEHR, no one had sent it to me, and so with time on my hand and about to see Handke I bought a regretful second edition
and became progressively more overwhelmed, walked around Vienna, a girl saw me reading the book and asked if I was Sorger, and by the time I got to Salzburg I felt I had entirely forgotten the matter that made me so cool towards Handke in New York, and was one train late and some years ago wrote up the entire visit as


Question these many years later and after a long self-analysis is still what set off the whelming reaction to LANGSAME HEIMKEHR.
Yes, the four weeks in Bulgaria had infused me, I was smiling a lot & if you smile a lot the pretty ones will smile back and off your are to make love.
I did not react in the same fashion to any other book at the time.

Upon returning to New York & the Urizen Book offices Linda Coverdale
[who has become a fine translator from the French] who had started to work for us, noted that I seemed to be on something but encouraged it since I was fired up and the firm needed all the fire it could get.
In retrospect, I should have used the fire to get the partner fired who had played the other two partners off against each other & taken over the firm and was robbing it right and left while I managed to obtain yet one more tax shelter infusion.
[see notes]

and the Bulgaria infused energy only gradually wore off, it even persisted during what I felt was a needed vacation on St. Simon’s Island on the Georgia Gold Coast.

One sound-seeming self-explanation for the effect of LANGSAME HEIMKEHR was that the Alaska experience had been very much of a whole,  something very substantial and that I had never articulated it as I have now certain episodes in my memoir
 Screen Memories.

The momentous experience of Alaska had laid in wait to be pricked = and Handke’s book had been the elicitor. None of the other books I had read about Alaska had; like McPhee’s, they had only contributed to the experience.
And it is present now: I see scores of rabbits on the frozen brook in the gold mining area north of Fairbanks, dashing about in the November snow nibbling at the frozen willows! The lone lonely or starving woolf that accompanied me each daylight deprived morning on my futile surveyor quests… and whom I tossed rabbit carcasses.

Talking to Handke about what the book meant to me and that a girl had mistaken me for Sorger elicited the comment that during the writing of the book he had only thought once of me, at which point there occurred to me the idea that, improbably, he recalled every
thought he had about a book!

 Perhaps if Handke had been willing to hear me out during our walk across the Brooklyn Bridge during which he said that he was “full up” with Alaska he might have thought more and perhaps not got stuck at the beginning? After all, I had my experience of working with the Inuit and how violent they could be under the influence of alcohol.
In HOMECOMING it remains mysteriou why the Inuit turns violent. – Knowing Handke the idea occurs that perhaps he had made the mistake of making a pass at an Indian maiden! Perhaps just stroked her hair? Yet the irruption of violence is as mysterious, isn’t it, as Bloch’s suddenly killing the girl he picked up the night before at the Prater in Vienna, which is preceded by the brilliant metaphor of boiling water bubbles on the hot plate being like angry ants!
 – The violence in Handke, these impulses to run amok! -
I would say that Handke’s antennae – the Handke seismograph - the way they picked up Alaska and transmitted it through his use of language was what triggered and continues to trigger my reaction to

 - and to describe the seismograph’s mimosa hair and how that is translated into language – into lyrical narrative prose – and how it then find the appropriate sensitive receptor and elicits an experience if you want to do more than emit impressionistic effusions requires an essay and scientific experiments. Metampsychosis or Joyce’s  - Bloom’s-Molly’s witty play on that words
met him pike hoses.”

There are other Handke texts to which I have had powerful visceral responses
One them is:



Handke’s great 1982 weaving dramatic poem,one of his most important works,
my effusion,believe me dear reader,
 is a
mere stub
of a tale of yet another phoenix that turned into an albatross
  around this mariner’s neck.

In late 1981 Handke sent me a set of galleys of
 Ueber die Doerfer
with a note that
“it wasn’t anything for business”
I suspect that the note signified that he had noticed my constant worries about Urizen Books when he was in New York as well the last time we had met a year earlier in Salzburg

  These worries were nearly at an end at the time the future albatross reached me as the firm was about to go down in flames.
[see notes]
After reading the text my response could not have been more positive, but also realistic in saying that it would tax me to the utmost, as in fact it then did. Circumstances had it that I would not start on the translation for about a year.

The translation took several years and several onslaughts and was completed in 1983
 in an extreme state
= the high point of an analysis=
 by myself in a loft, all alone with the text –
occasionally playing
Credence Clearwater Revival records
and shouting out the text so
that it became a translation for voice as the original author, but few others, was the first to appreciate
[“cutting, in the good sense” he wrote, unaware of course of my also being in an all-around cutting mood so that you didn’t really want to get in my way during that period.]

 In the process of such an intense involvement with a text that touched every element of my being and memory, that for the analysis was already in the heightened state, I felt I got a whiff of how the desert fathers had come to create sacred texts and it turned out that the original author had oracled a  bit during its composition, and once again I entirely forgot all about the grave injury the author had once caused me, and I could see why one might love an author for his text alone, and I felt rather queasy recalling the veni vidi vici manner in which I had outplayed him at Tarok in Salzburg in 1980 because it might have interfered with the composition of that text.

A section from my postcript which gives a fuller account
can be found at

The long tale of how the translation then came to be published by Ariadne Books & how it became an Albatross I put into the footnote.


With Handke’s

The Repetition


there ensued what I call an addiction to his work and need to read him constantly. Not that his work had ever fallen into the
 „take it or leave it”
or that I had failed to appreciate its artistry
but it had not become essential.

Again circumstances played a role:
I had finally freed myself of all women & of invariably being in a state of love.
 I even had to give away my female bitch who despite all preventive measures had managed to get herself knocked up by a wolfish dog in Billie the Kid country
 and had whelped 9 puppies: the lord of the marvelous bucolic St. Monica Mt. loft I had found did not permit dogs on his flower-growing property. I could finally get to work. The impulse to secede from New York and be hermetic had hit me during a needed vacation after the exertion in Bulgaria when I had spotted the so-called cottages;
that is, the mansions, that the 19th century moguls had built on Jekyll Island on the Georgia Gold coast, and I realized that all I wanted was a single room there, that sufficed, and the convenient tiny coffee shop at the end of the shrimp dock sticking out into the Marshes of Glynn

There had even been one more major love affair, but even then the girl’s parents small cottage with their refugee hermit scholar was as interesting as the girl, which of course spelled doom for the affair & nearly taught me the lesson that the final affair
a mariage,
 that had taken me to Billie the Kid Country

then drove home with an entrapment.

In late Spring 1986 I started to fall under the sway of the Malibu surf,
 waves that started out in the South Pacific and that broke at very slow intervals,
and I was walking the dusty paths in the chaparall
and living in a shed with pepper corns trickling and evergreen resin dripping
 on the tin roof of my once flower assembly loft at the end of a dirt road and so I was in the kind of state of mind to respond to the slow rhythms of
The Repetition
and then wrote a number of things with even longer periods (se Notes), but I’ve gone on too long already.

I am by no means the only one to have fallen under The Repetion’s sway

Fellow Handke translators Scott Abbott & Zarko Radokovic as well provide written evidence

Since I was also completing something as incompleatable as a psycho-analyis but had a fair idea of my problematics yet needed a case other than myself I then added Handke’s psyche to the involvement with his texts.




I read five times in a row three times in German & than twice in English at a particular place in Seattle that was then called „Lolas”  a Hmong lady’s donut shop on 45th N.E. between Roosevelt & 11th Ave N.E. in the evening in the company of as No-Man’s crew as you can find in Seattle, Smerdjakov as a darkly bearded Persian software engineer who had had mental breakdown and held his bowl of goldfish, the cab driver with only two front teet, a variety of homeless who could afford a coffee and donut to stay warm at night as the book kept me warm, who has his own reasons for seeking out the kind of warmth the book seems to emit, and it wasn’t really anything warming in the book that I could point to that made me feel that way but its writing, the way this portrait of a many sided artist writer for whom reading too is an art is woven together, I even have a few quibles with it, who doesn’t with the kind of monstrum that Handke once promised never to write!

Not that each and every work draws a similar response, or that I don’t express disappointment if I find something deficient. Handke is only a demi-god after all!

But I think it ought to be comprehensible to you why the Kid from Griffen/ Voelkermarkt in Carinthia, the Griffen Kid, that Balg, whom I first heard and caught sight off in May 1966 in Princeton University, New Jersey, became a major and most unexpected event in my life,
and in that respect I feel anything but unlucky and one if not the only lasting continuity going back 50 years!
I can’t imagine how much more destitute I would have been the past 30 years in this cultural semi-desert
 [Mauberly’s “Old Whore” occurs]
 without his work, that and Freud and his disciples and a few friends and me crows.


It is of course scarcely the case - as with some other Handke afficionados - that I am like the world’s most loving &mother & say that my darling can do no wrong, not that he often does serious wrong within his own terms, but Handke, too, has stretches of genius and occasionally sputters, or strikes me as flatfooted = see anon
for specifics!

Then there is a large variety of Handke’s works – across the board - of prose & plays & diary condens-acretions
that are important to me for one or the other reason
or for technical innovation
or supreme success but which don’t necessarily warm each and every cockle of my heart.

Of the
 as I call his five different probing essays – into fatigue, the successful day, being a fool for mushrooms, and escaping nauseating fellow students into the shithoue,
 the one on the



is the most imprtant for me because it goes deepest to his need to isolate himself within an aesthetic playful sacred & profane environment, and of course because it is so well done and, charactestically, is anchored in a place, the Spanish Soria.

I have already mentioned


   also for the humor of it
and the way it reveals conceals.
I am astonished that the Nabokovians have not picked this as gem-worthy of their champion.

The early collection of stories
Greeting the Board of Directors
whose delightfully playful title-story methinks I translated at one point
[but where?]

Especially for its amazing
ascent decent



For its technical innovation of involving the reader in a protagonist’s dream syntax.


for an instance of writing in dream syntax & its laconic brevity, and for a bit of pathetic dellusion!
A gem!


for being the most perfect peformance of Handke’s linguistic command virtuosoty
and as an absolute genius summation of his early work
in peformance
for inducing catharsis as does
Ride Across Lake Constance
Both works occasionally suggest to me that our man is a positivist, too, in the way he knows and uses language and images.


For adding to the reader’s experience of narrative prose the dimension of film & thus
augmenting the writer’s repertoire




And all the volumes that contain condensacrietons from Handke’s diaries and
 which need to be read in tandem with the contemporaneous prose narratives
if you want to get a fair idea of the writer and his work
and Handke is certainly worth getting to know in that fashion
And you don’t need to live in the same abode and suffer as the
“mommie’s boy”
as  cold as a Salamander!
(vide Morawian Night)
Or one of his cussing explosions!

Die Geschichte des Bleistifts/ The History of the Pencil/


Am Felsfenster Morgens/ At the Rock Window, Mornings

Gestern Unterwegs/ Traveling yesterday


& Fantasien der Wiederholung/Fantasies of Repetition

 Vor der Baumschatten Wand/ In Front of the Wall with the Shadow of a Tree

Handke’s texts advance literature in extraordinary ways & are difficult in the sense of what he does syntactically in that he demands work from readers unaccustomed to unexpected and multi-leveled ways of writing in the big books like repetition, absence, no mans bay, del gredos, one dark night,
 and numerous sections in
morawian night.
 in his plays he is, for my money, Shakespeare’s cousin
and he will take the experiencer’s mind
 to unusual and unaccustomed places.

The only way this dark-analytically experienced reader can account for his addiction to certain of his texts, such as NO-MAN’S BAY & THE REPETITION & THE HOUR is that Handke must love writing the way his mother loved him who served as surrogate for the absent love of her life who would not marry her - at any event, a healthier response than to the rather limited array of legit and illegit drugs or numerous beauties whose acquaintance this summer-nights dream creature made over the years, which is why his work - subsequent to translating
Walk about the Villages
 and as of th experience of
The Repetition
 in the 80S
 became addictive, and I can’t imagine what I would have done without.

This list does not include a number of titles not available in English to date

(The Cuckoos of Velica Hoca)

I  stand by my comments @-

and ctd., astonished that this utterly brilliant piece of reporting that is utterly superior to anything anyone does in this country has not been translated, but blame, first of all, his incompetent U.S publisher.

The VELICA HOCA text is also extremely interesting within the context of a MORAVIAN NIGHT discussion, because MORAVIAN has one brilliant section of a bus trip where the driver keeps re-iterating the song “Apache” in the angriest most furious manner, and if he didn’t have to drive you’d expect him to go beserk and run amok at what has transpired in the Kosovo! – It is my guess that Handke, during one of his own bus trips to the Kosovo, witnessed Serbians on their way to a cemetery of their ancestors in what is now Kosovo. It is one of those perfect joints in Handke’s work, stretches of which fit together in jigsaw fashion that gave me the idea that something along that line would be feasible for all his work, thus creating one of the more amazing self-portraits.

KALI/ the Saltworks

Der Grosse Fall/ The Major Case???
Great Falls??

And I also fail to list some of the ones I have translated
which may not be all that important
within the oeuvre




is an odd throwback to the formalist, wordless procedures which rang so true in


But as I read SUBDAY BLUES it quickly becomes tiresomely repetitive - although since I have not experienced a performance I cannot tell whether tiresomeness has a performative function!
SUBDAY BLUES has not been translated into English but it played extremely well under Klaus Peymann at the Ensemble and many other languages.
It certainly is one of the great excercise pieces for an actor.


I tried to get the two major psycho-analytic outfits in Seattle to put on at least a reading for its members, for them to be confronted with a different approach; no such luck in these parochial quarters,

however, meanwhile, the play is not as present to me as most of the others or Handke’s books – for reasons that are beyond me, unless the perverse little joker in my brain has decided to throw a block, as he can any time his perversity so decides. ART OF ASKING IS THE FAMOUS PLAY that became embroiled in France being upset at Handke appearing at the Milosevec funeral

See also:


If you happen to know Handke and his first daughter, as I did,  you too will find Child Story seriously lacking in numerous dimensions. It might even infuriate you and make you cuss the author as a miserable dad! Who meanwhile has expressed his regret
[I have this via the mutual prattle-mouth Erich Wolfgang Skwara)
and spoiled the 2nd daughter in recompense as we see in the wonderful


which I keep being amazed is not in English as a Y.A. or younger fairy tale!

It is incredibly easy to come down on the 30 year old Hsndke dad like the proverbial “ton of bricks” - the book itself records and object to how several women object to his fatherly ways. It’s lacking in awareness and dimension, e.g. – the girl doesn’t have a mother, well que pasa? Etc. and off we are into a far more complicated oeuvre.

For example, it would be easy to maintain that by age 30 Handke had pretty much reprieved both his physical and and stepfather’s delinquencies vis a vis him.
If we are to believe Moravian Night
Handke had fathered an illegitimate child while writing The Hornets on the Adriatic Corfula. In Morawian Night the former girlfriend has turned fiendish crone in her old age and pursue him Erynje fashion as do other female figures. We wonder what happened to the child - it appears that the author if he knew of his girlfriends pregnancy was not as concerned as his actual physical father was with his mother Maria Sivec’s pregnacy – vide Sorrow Beyond Dreams and as we also find out from Malte Herwig’s Handke biography where this fellow Schoenherr was truly concerned about his illegitimate offspring.
At age 30, the violence-prone Handke might easily have killed or permanently injured his three year old daughter when rising water in the basement of his dwelling in combination with a screaming child made him lose his temper. His famous beating of Marie Colbin was scarcely the first time he was engaged violently with a woman, and I can  imagine Moreau, who had to contend with all these French sadists, having at least held her own during on of their fights!
It’s always good to know the women an author has slept with to get down to the nitty gritty, and so one finds out that the first daughter, Amina Handke, was exposed to the primal scene at a young age as Handke was repeatedly if we are to believe what we read in Sorrow Beyond Dreams. Thus Sorrow, too, is not among my favorites, because if you read Herwig you find out that Handke lied a bit sooner than he expressed the wish to at the end. There was no graduation trip with the real father who allegedly expressed the fear that he and his son might be taken for a gay couple. The lie only manifests Handke’s all to justified homophobia.


Though it was a great pleasure to look over Scott Abbott’s fine translation and tighten a few screws I find the long poem flatfooted – lacking in ambiguity - as if anyone might not want for those good things to last! –

I devoted quite a bit of time recently to looking very carefully at the 2015/6 play


My detailed work there is a good example of my differentiated approach, where I find some matters extraordinary and others lacking, yet cannot tell - because I did not see the production - to what degree Klaus Peymann,the director of its premiere, made it an evidently successful theater evening.

The play

deserves an equally differentiated evaluation, and might get it if it is ever translated. It has one of Handke’s most superb openings,like the
of thee Fifth Symphony,
but then a Novalike figure
(the Nova from the end of Walk about the Villages)
appears and matters become problematic for me, yet no end of positive qualities.

As noted: in one respect and during one particular incident, I find/found the author a bit too German - he seems to lack the capacity for the supernal laugh, although I suspect we might be able to laugh the matter off at this point? though the wench is still alive.

The writing in dream syntax in one dark night, the ability to have the reader experience text as film, absence, and sporadically in sierra del gredos, the effect of the being inducing syntax of the repetition, how marvelous reading no mans bay made me feel that I read it five times in a row, the end of del gredos - I am not the only person who thinks that that ascent and descent, those one hundred pages are the greatest ending experiencially that anyone has ever written.
And the catharsis inducing plays like lake constance, the  hour.

Gosh, at  least I lived in the age of Handke and not just of a disgrace like Donald Trump!

The Nobel Prize will be that much poorer if it is not awarded to Handkde.



I was pretty well versed in New Left material, had translated and published Michael Schneider’s Neurosis and Civilization, which was a kind of compendium of the large variety of matters on the dear hearts of the New Left – and so it was of course highly amusing to see these wishes reduced to slogans that might be fitted to cartoon characters AND appear in the mouths of business folk, one reason I always felt the play ought to have kids as actors!

There are other dimensions to DYING aside its derisive treatment of left slogans, and those are the notion of a tycoon businessman with aethetic pretensisons, a not that unusual phenomenon in Germany. Quitt and his side kick Hans, much like Brecht’s Puntilll and servant Matti, have intereting and deep aesthetic concerns which were alo Handke’s at the time and which he aired in this manner and which grew out of his origianl defiant essay and stance “I am an inhabitant of the ivory tower”  in defiance of the convention of being on imaginary baricades. Thus to think of DYING as a vehicle for capitalism critique is to shoot far short of  the conundrum it poses.

As to Left politics: my heart was really Old Left Rosa Luxemburg & Karl Liebknech but I started to realize fairly early on that the New Left, as the newest coming of the 19th century Russian Social Revolutionaries, were an avant-garde without any kind of back-up, especially in Germany. The police the workers the army were not behind these middle class kids whose critique was spot-on in many ways.
Latin America was obviously a very differet kettle of fish,
Aad that is where I longed to be who, however, did not suffer either heat or amoeabas for longer than a few days without seriously succumbing.
In North America the Vietnam Vets returning in a revolutionary mood seemed promising. All it took to take the wind out of the sails of the middle class revos though was the end of the draft.

Carl Weber and I, with which Brechtian director whom I had first seen in at the Ensemble  in  Becher’s STALINSCHLACHT in 1957 and was now happily working, tried to introduce some song & dance into DYING OUT via my then friend Jerry Leiber & his delightful partner Michael Stoller, but after a raft of wonderful lox & bagel Sunday brunches at Leiber’s Patchen Place Mews
(prior owners e.e. cummings and my friend michael lebeck)
Leiber copped out – all we really needed was a few more songs, Leiber & Stoller

had wonderful left-overs from their unproduced Brechtian musical The International Wrestling Match.
Typical of Leiber whose specialty during the last 35 unproductive years of his life was to jerk other artists off & then drop out while going around saying that he was working with Handke, whom he met once through me in Paris
 [where Handke had pronounced the famous line
“I don’t do Singspiel” -
and practically puked at the sight of Leiber’s mutiply hideous wife,
Barbara Rose!]

I at the time did not have the confidence I have now in being able to write lyrics to songs.
 And a nice Gussow Review
May he rest in theatrical heaven



 The WATV “albtross” is so many feathered  that I am making it into a piece in its own right. As mentioned above, it came as a godsend at time that I was transitioning out of the more activist role as a publisher into a writing research translating analytic life that I have led since the mid-80s. First of all, my nemesis, the “ass-licking stilletto- twerp children’s book editor” Michael DiCapua had most improbably become editor in jefe at F & SG where no end of fine people spent a year or with the swine Roger Straus before they called it quits. And so they turned it down, but Roger Straus had made a promise to do it when I alerted him in 1981 that the work was under way – after all, FSG had done two collections of my Handke translations and various other trranslations – Hesse, Nelly Sachs - so I persisted, and it seemed to bother Handke, whom I was keeping partially informed, and I suspect I ought to have given him a complete lay of the land and he would have been a lot less mystified about what was transpiring between me and FS&G, which also involved Straus having tricked and cheated me out of ¾ out of my royalties

 – which, as of the decade from the early 70 to early 80 amounted to several hundred thousand dollars, quite enough to keep Urizen Books going, to mention just one consequence of that kind of dastardliness. The once owner of Noonday Books had even warned me about Straus who had cheated him, too, in the sale of his company, so I can only plead guilty to being a chump & schmock in these matters in thinking that someone who has made millions from the books I brought him would not screw me. At the time of the contention about WATC
I was intent on catching Straus openly in a lie = and I did, and it made no difference!

Then PAJ (Performing Arts Journal), who had done work for me at Urizen, took the play, I won the first of two suits against the former Urizen Books partner

 & I cut out to a new wife in Billie the Kid country in the Winter of 1985. Upon my return to New York a year and a half later to close up my loft and move to my idyll in the St. Monicas PAJ welched on their contract. I was in no mood to take this kindly and wrote them the kind of drop-dead letter to smash your toes I could write with ease at that point with as much foulness I had endured, copy to Handke in Salzburg -where he was in wahtever sate of nind he was in - who wrote back that “he did not want his name associated with this kind of letter” and if I continued to persist in writing the like that “would be the end of our friendship.”
You can’t imagine how glad I was to come on Handke’s threat to Freddie Kolleritsch in Malte Herwig’s biography that if Manuskripte ran another critical piece on Handke they would never get another conribution from him.  Of course, my darling pasha was a threatener, too, that was about all that had been missing until then, he’d show you his baby but if you had out-played him at Tarok! How childish! Moreover how unaware or schizophrenic that we couldn’t possibly  be personal friends as of what he had done in the mid-70s! The man was daft! And so I wrote back, “aren’t we lucky  y regarding friendship” with a reminder of what had transpired, but as a joke – also to the good fortune of my not taking Libgart from him during the 1971 visit to NY -
so in fact he could have laughed the threat off, and we could have been the kind of best friends that we might otherwise have easily become.    Meanwhile, I understand only too well the kind pathetic state that Libgart Schwarz’s leaving him had left him in, and so it didn’t seem that what he had done was designed, as it was in many other cases - as you can read in Herwig’s book & as Wim Wenders told me here in Seattle  that Handke throughout his life has made it a point to injure thosee closest to him – i.e.  but if a specifically designed gratuitous sadistic injury it certainly was an injury that testified to to a level of unawareness, from A to Z

Wenders for whom Handke played the role of the older brother, too! I did not ask for specifics, perhaps I ought to have. But this is not a police dosssier!

At any event, there I was with WATV a piece of really good work & it took about a decade before it then came out with Ariadne Books, for $ 500!, who then did not send out galleys or review copies, morons, self-defeating cheapskates of the worst kind.

Meanwhile Handke had turned to Ralph Mannheim to produce another translation in addition to ‘the best translation he had ever seen’, incurring wrath from me. Handke might read Pound’s Pisan Cantos occurrs to me.

WATV quickly became my heart test and the degree of failure does not bode well  for the world, the woman in question merely reacted to the line
“the hefty taxes”
and the thought flitted through my mind that perhaps Handke had been right in treating the person I had designated my “great fondness”
- as compared to
“great passion”
“best in and out of bed”
etc -
as entirely dispensable.

I may have some literary talent
but lack it in evaluating human beings,  especially pretty women 
I am or used to be so stupid and even made it a point to overlook real physical ugliness, ideologically as it were
-  as compared to the wonderful beautifully ugly! –
-   the brute Roger Straus, the hideous Barbara Rose, the total creep Joachim Neugroeschel –
-   By chance Handke had seen them all and voiced how ugly he found them physically – draw your own moral.


Thus inspired I delivered myself of a quite long piece on Handke and “Being” which the NYRB “nearly took” so then friend R. Silvers wrote, for 2nd choice Partisan who had just taken a long excerpt from my translation of Walk About the Villages it was twice as long as their compliment allowed, ancien ami Gus Blaisdell was then going to issue it in enlarged form as a chapbook with his Living Batch Books in Albuquerque, but somehow never got around to it prior to an early heart attack demise, and though Gus was my safebox for various things I was writing as I was moving around – the Chihuaha desert, the Western U.S. and then the Baja - the piece was not found among my others. Since the piece was written prior to electronic record keeping I myself lost my only copy to a major storm in Seattle, but there may be a copy at Suhrkamp. Jim Krusoe then of St. Monica Review who had much liked the piece and then a fairly superficial outline sketch that I wrote to envision to myself what a book on all of Handke’s work – late 80s – might be like did not locate any material either.

The long piece I wrote on the Wenders/ Handke film Wings of Desire for the St. Monica Review was very much within the mode of the original “being” piece; that is, its sentences did not end until the next Malibu surf wave hit! Jim took the trouble to tamp down the wave intervals to half their normal size, although he and I then realized he might have spared himself the trouble for the reaction it received from most, though not quite all, readers for challenging their “natural” interior grammar!

Subsequent to one of these unhappy making visits to the Montmorency basement apartment, Handke mentioned that he had exposed himself to the 16 year old Austrian space cadet who had been there at my visit and during which the idea flitted through my head that Handke and I might both fuck her right then. Hande said she had blushed – I am not sure what he expected. What would have been odd if she had not blushed and remained entirely different. However, the incident then alerted me to the exhibitionistic quality of Handke’s work Your mother commit’s suicide – in no time you publish a book about the event and her, it made me feel a touch queasy. What is to be said for Handke’s artistic exhibitionism, as compared to its sociallly reprehensible aspect, is that his ability as an artist of course shapes, transmutes, makes into something attractive. Handke’s sexual exhibitionism strikes me has a pathetic and pleading quality in addition to its overt aggressive component.

During the Moneschberg visit I realized that during the appr. 10 years that I knew his domiciles
  our man had worked himself from living in a dank news-paper filled apartment in the Meineke (not apparently the Uhland Strasse) in Berlin (a familiar area to me where we met in 1969 to discuss my KASPAR translation and where baby Amina was shown to me), [2] via the intriguing basement apartment on the 77 Rue Montmorency Paris in the Les Marais

& to what struck the prejudiced me, [who disliked these buildings that have embedded field stones wrapped around the ground floor walls, as you can find a quite a few both in France and Germany as, say, you drive through the Mosel valley)
 as a typical Gruenderzeit castelet
in Clamart, Paris where the Lefthanded Woman was filmed, and the book provides a fine description of how Paris looks from that perspective. Again it was an area I was somewhat familiar with because war correspondent author Wilfred Burchett lived in the neighboring Meudon.
Now, in 1080,our man was living with the “big animals”- as the Salzburgers called  Moenchsberg residents – as king of the hill. A yuppie of sorts I suppose. I myself was definitely and would always be a declasse with little interest in living on high, though not in depoosing as I found out that evening, though for reasons that a Hirsch or a male Mulie might well understand I realized looking back at my entirely unusual behavior.

It turned out Handke can be impatient, I was a train late and there he was already walking towards me after I had checked into my Hotel Mirabelle and was walking to get up on the hill – I noticed the annoyance and of course ought to have called and said that I had missed the agreed upon train. The second comment was that he was not surprised at my staying at the fancy Mirabelle – which struck me as wrong since the only reason I was staying there was because it had a big swimming pool, those were the days I swam fiendishly downtown New York and at all the hotels during that trip that was funded by ICA. Urizen Books was poor and so was I and I stayed at pension or with friends at Book Fair time. He was proejcting I realized.
So as to engage on the subject that fillled me like air pressure does a tire to near bursting I mentioned that I had shown the first page of LANGSAME HEIMKEHR to the deskman when I had noticed him reading a popular Schmoeker as certain kinds of bestsellers used to be called in German...



About Me

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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