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IS THE OVER-ARCHING SITE FOR ALL HANDKE BLOGS AND ALL HANDKE.SCRIPTMANIA.COM SITES, THAT IS FOR THE HANDKE PROJECT AS A WHOLE. It will have one page with links to every page on each blog and for each page on each handke.scriptmania site. Michael Roloff

Tuesday, December 4, 2018




 Although [a] to date no English language journal – but for Good Reads 


has reviewed Handke’s May 2018 THE GREAT FALL

 https://handke-magazin.blogspot.com/2018/08/roloff-review-of-handkes-great-fall.html  and [b] not even Handke’s early plays are being done and [c] I can’t get my translation of his sexy THE BEAUTIFUL DAYS OF ARANJUEZ 


published  & no one has reviewed Scott Abbott's translation of TO DURATION 





this extraordinary state of affairs may make you forget how RIGHT  the Handke reception went for a while at first:  I of course noticed Handke’s polemic at the Gruppe 47 1966 meeting not that it did much for someone who had participated in U.S. writing classes but to wonder whether maybe the fellow was a fool, he certainly could not mean Guenter Grass, Uwe Johnson, Siegfried Lenz or Peter Weiss with “descriptive impotence,” but failed to get the sought for answer to my puzzlement at a party that Jakov Lind and Pannah Grady and I gave at Pannah’s splendid Dakota apartment 



However, the pseudo-Beatles at a critical significant moment made me realize that I was dealing with a fellow of village origin and its kind of openly grinning sadism  when Alan Ginsberg asked me to translate that he wanted to fuck him. And whom I put out of my mind until I noticed the reception of his first book, DIE HORNISSEN 


and if I had been an editor at Grove Press and not at the comparatively staid Farrar Straus I might even tried to publish it in translation. However, I noticed that no one had picked up his plays by 1967 which had made more of a stir in the German language world and, after experiencing PUBLIKUMS- BESCHIMPFUNG/ OFFENDING THE AUDIENCE in Berlin, I persuaded my colleagues at Farrar, Straus via telegram, with help of then friend Susan Sontag, to take on that play and SELF-ACCUSATION… KASPAR was added to the volume during the translation process  and I discussed the translation with Handke in Berlin in 1969, and must say to have been glad to have him show me the recently whelped daughter Amina, as compared to the apparently indifferent revolutionaries [see Handke’s A CHILD STORY] and sought to oblige his wish to make KASPAR’S  initial sentence – “I want to be someone like somebody else was once” - as abstract as possible. However, had it not been for Bob Giroux assenting to Handke’s talent while yet finding it awfully literary, the little shit who did so much damage to my projects at Farrar, Straus, the children’s book editor Iago Michael DiCapua, would have had his way  once again and shot down Handke right there and then – who would have fared better in the long run with Knopf or Helen Wolf at Harcourt Brace. 

The volume KASPAR & OTHER PLAYS garnered a rare review for a book of plays, from Stanley Kaufmann in the New Republic,


and Richard Gilmman, to whom I sent the other play translations, soon wrote the first piece on Handke’s theater for his Making of Modern Drama  


     However, it was to be some years before the first official performance. A friend, the recently deceased actor writer Michael Locascio  


happened to be returning with a beat-hippie troupe from some years in San Miguel D’Allende, where “the Hammer” had breathed his last one cold rainy Tequila night in the arms of one JB, a scrawny member of this troupe on some Mexican railway ties, and this troupe and my tape recorder amplifier trouped to the Goethe House and various venues doing SELF ACCUSATION & what I called OFFENDING THE AUDIENCE; until Herbert Berghof’s HB Studio did these plays and, with that very bright actor EG Marshal the first private two week performances of KASPAR.  I also gave a one year option to Kaspar to Mr. Empty Space who however didn't do anything with it but perform the play at institutions for the mentally disturbed. Nor that I ever see or hear of a single FSG employee seeing and commenting about a single of quite a few Handke performances  that then transpired in New York. For, once SELF-ACCUSATION & MY FOOT MY TUTOR had premiered at B.A.M. in Spring 1971 the major plays THE RIDE ACROSS LAKE CONSTANCE and KASPAR were successfully mounted under the direction of the Brechtian director Karl Weber [whom I had first seen in 1957 as one of the soldiers in Johannes R. Becher’s  notorious WINTERSCHLACHT, a Stalingrad play to oblige the Soviet Occupation if ever there was one, and what a beautiful job Brecht and Co did too on that great revolving stage. ] 



at the Vivian Beaumont/ Lincoln Center with a great caste; 

KASPAR again at B.A.M. with Christopher Lloyd’s prize winning performance  


I substituted the far less difficult THE GOALIE’S ANXIETY AT THE PENALTY KICK, for the contracted DER HAUSIERER 


and it was a hit, so was SHORT LETTER LONG FAREWELL .

LEFT-HANDED WOMAN was pre-published in entirety in the NEW YORKER  


 IT LOOKED AS THOUGH HANDKE WAS A MADE WRITER IN THE U.S. DIDN’T IT? It was but a short time before Farrar, Straus started to fuck matters up.  

 End Pat One


Part Two “What went Wrong?” 

 Success continued a while longer.  Weight of the World, the first of Handke’s half dozen journal excerpt volumes, too, was a success, however FSG failed to heed my advice to also do its successor the 1981 HISTORY OF THE PENCIL / GESCHICHTE DES BLEISTIFS,  a real work-book of a journal which is so rich in notes on the development of the great WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES and afford the interested critic so much insight into various aspect of how Handke works.  

THE 1971 SORROW BEYOND DREAMS was a huge success and a stage adaptation ran at the Phoenix for years I think.  

  However, even though KASPAR & OTHER PLAYS kept being reprinted, FSG refused to publish the second collection centered around THE RIDE ACROSS LAKE CONSTANCE and did not do so until 1979 at which point I had added the 1973/4 THEY ARE DOING OUT  which Kalfin at Chelsea Theater/ B.A.M turned down for being topical! It did not premiere, at the Yale Rep, until 1979, about five years too late. Carl Weber’s and my attempt to introduce some music from Leiber/ Stoller failed because Leiber once again dropped out of a project and we failed to have the equivalent of Gerald Depardieu for the Quitt lead. 

 L  The NYRB ran two favorable and interesting reviews of Handke’s work, by Frank Kermode 


and Michael Wood

 Peter Mayer at Avon published two different Handke collections  TWO BY HANDKE & THREE BY HANDKE, which later also were done by Collier-MacMillan.

  I did my translation of THE INNERWORLD OUTERWORLD OF THE INNERWORLD at Continuum Books.  

However, there also were some early signs of misunderstanding 


Anatol Broyard didn't get the point of Handke's refusal to write psychological drama in LEFT HANDED WOMAN, a book I think he wrote in response to his being left  in 1971 by his own insulted wife, the worst thing that ever happened to him ... and here we have a leaving one anything but happy!  ? Anyhow, that is one motivation for this novella that  includes his own "left-handedness" in the mysterious painful proceedings.

Clive Barnes had been left uncomprehending by the happenings play of plays The Ride Across Lake Constance.  

And I think I failed to make sure that some of these brilliant short happening type plays got done at the proper venues,  Cries for Help, Quodlibet,  etc, as I easily might have at the time.

Handke had started to become interested in Alaska and made one final trip in Fall 1978 prior to writing the prose text Langsame Heimkehr / A Slow Homecoming in the Hotel Adams in Manhattan, a project he himself then felt he failed at, but which Suhrkamp published in 1979. However, Farrar Straus [which meanwhile had also published his 1974 A MOMENT OF TRUE FEELING  - Avon Books  meanwhile issuing  Two & Three by Handke]  – did not publish A SLOW HOME -COMING until 1986 and combined it with two entirely different titles THE LESSON OF ST. VICTOIRE and A CHILD STORY –  


In other words there was  a ten year break in U.S. publication history whereas there was none in German, 





the kind of break that is to be avoided unless you want to lose momentum, etc.  and Handke, though not a wall flower yet needed constant tending, the big books were still to come, he had not written the kind of rare title - a  power book like Tin Drum , a Mort a Credit that, in translation,  can establish you as though you were a native;  and 10 year delay lacuna that in this instance was a huge mistake - and to combine these three titles -which had nothing in coming but authorship and being written while the author for a period of seven years returns to the country whose citizen he is - confounded the critics into thinking some kind of post modernist highjinks were afoot.

 A SLOW HOME COMING , though a fragment, is one of Handke's most extraordinary texts, THE LESSON OF

  ST. VICTOIRE is his first walking book and manifest an artistic re-orientation of a very profound kind. 

 A CHILD STORY,  is probably the weakest book Handke ever wrote, the more so  if like me you happen to witness Handke and daughter Amina both in the U.S. and in Paris and have one of these women [who the author defensively claims  have it all  wrong when accusing him of miserable child rearing] provide the most intimate insight into what is transpiring - now wonder that Handke fortunately regretted, perhaps also the book?, but how badly he, the writerly fantatic, had treated his first-born.

 It takes the kind of publishing genius only the likes of  Roger Straus are  capable of to start to fuck matters up.  This is also the time where Handke starts to have one different editor after the other at FSG. I think it must at least be ten these 50 years,  whereas in Germany Jochen Jung and Reinhard Fellinger have stuck it out through thick and thin, which also shows the great turmoil under Straus were few editors and editors and chief held out for long. The last Handke book that FSG published, the 2017 MORAVIAN NIGHT  the translation was not edited at all, its editor left about the time the m.s was turned in 7 years after its German publication, I like the translation a great deal, as I prefer Krishna Winston to Mannheim, however, any halfway woke editor would have caught Winston's major booboos  


    Handke observed, accurately,  in the mid 70s that the firm had no real interest in his work; evidenced by a famous Roger Straus letter to Unseld that the had a Handke problem…  it was a problem of Roger own making to some large degree. That was around the time that FSG published THE REPETITION 


and read the NY Times Book Review monstrously stupid review where this cold warrior goes after Handke for having a 16 year old school kid on a graduation trip through Slovenia fail to abhor pictures of Tito! 

There was nothing I, as editor at Continuum Books,  or later as co-publisher of Urizen Books, could do about a matter but to publish my translation of INNERWORLD and NONSENSE &; HAPPINESS. Continuum did not do novels, at Urizen  partner Schulz, whose acquaintance I had made over his directing the first official Handke production in the U.S. at B.A.M, Spring 1971, had been deeply offended by Handke's response to his work, and would not agree to do DER HAUSIERER.

   Matters worsened when my FSG nemesis, Michael DeCapua became editor in chief – this was the person who had killed my Adorno reader, with its Susan Sontag introduction, a year’s work of mine, because he could not find the proper translator, allegedly, and without consulting either me or Susan, and what a difference it would have made to have such a volume published in the mid-70s. DeCapua then also turned down my best translation, which Handke felt was the best translation he had  ever seen, of WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES / UBER DIE DOERFER 


and that was the end of FSG publishing Handke plays. Steve Wasserman - when he became publisher of FSG’s play-wing HILL & WANG then turned down THE HOUR WE KNEW NOTHING OF EACH OTHER and THE ART OF ASKING - it takes real genius to turn down HOUR, one of the greatest texts of the 20th century! We had a correspondence on the matter, he did this for financial reasons, apparently unaware of FSG two Handke play collections doing exceedingly well.  Alas the wandering Wasserman who has watered at many springs. Meanwhile you need to assess the history of the kind of reviews Handke’s work was receiving specifically from “Auntie” , the New York Times,


and in general , the overall catastrophic reception


 which reviews become quite uniform once Handke 
defends the Serbs from being made exclusively responsible for the disintegration and crimes during the Yugoslavia troubles


Not a one of these reviewers will allow him to take a different tack from all the human rights hyenas or use any but the permitted language - who might worry first about the crimes being committed and crimes past of their own imperialists. 

Although some initial drama reviews by Gussow and Kerr were fair, as previously noted the NY Times entirely missed LAKE CONSTANCE’S happening quality and matters started to go downhill with Anatol Broyard  - In my estimate the NY Times coverage has a single re-printable review [of ACROSS], that is,it is not idiotic or rife with error of slight or stupid opinion  and, overall, a single review, it is William Gass's of NO-MAN'S BAY 


where Handke's equal renders a review worth re-reading.  Alas for the Kultchur! The same old whore I met at Pound's Hugh Selwyn Mauberly during my senior college year has only become a few degrees grosser. And
 to American Theater as a whole applies my Seattle experience 


Here I will add some names to drive the point home

Michael Roloff, Seattle, December 2018

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MICHAEL ROLOFF http://www.facebook.com/mike.roloff1?ref=name exMember Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website http://www.roloff.freehosting.net/index.html