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
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
VOYAGE BY DUGOUT: THE PLAY ABOUT THE FILM ABOUT THE WAR
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
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
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???