Handke, Peter 1942–
Handke, Peter 1942–
PERSONAL: Born December 6, 1942, in Griffen, Carinthia, Austria; son of Bruno (stepfather; an army sergeant) and Maria (Siutz) Handke; married Libgart Schwarz, 1966 (separated, 1972); children: Amina. Education: Attended a Jesuit seminary, and University of Graz, 1961–65.
ADDRESSES: Home—53 rue Cecille-Dinant, F-92140 Clamart, France. Agent—c/o Author Mail, Suhrkamp Verlag, Postfach 101945, 6001 9 Frankfurt am Main, Germany; c/o Kurt Bernheim, 792 Columbus Ave., New York, NY 10025.
CAREER: Dramatist, novelist, poet, essayist, and screenwriter, 1966–.
AWARDS, HONORS: Gerhart Hauptmann Prize, 1967; Schiller Prize, 1972; Büchner Prize, 1973 (returned, 1999); Kafka Prize, 1979 (refused); Salzburg Literature Prize, 1986.
Die Hornissen (title means "The Hornets"), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1966.
Der Hausierer (title means "The Peddler"), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1967.
Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter (also see below), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1970, translated by Michael Roloff as The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1972.
Der kurze Brief zum langen Abschied, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1972, translated by Ralph Manheim as Short Letter, Long Farewell, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1974.
Die Stunde der wahren Empfindung, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1975, translated by Ralph Manheim as A Moment of True Feeling, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1977.
Die linkshändige Frau (also see below), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1976, translated as The Left-Handed Woman, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1978.
Three by Peter Handke (contains A Sorrow beyond Dreams, Short Letter, Long Farewell, and The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick,) Avon (New York, NY), 1977.
Langsame Heimkehr (novella), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1979, translated by Ralph Manheim as "The Long Way Around," in Slow Homecoming, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1983.
Die Lehre der Sainte-Victoire (novella), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1980, translated by Ralph Manheim as "The Lesson of Mont Sainte-Victoire," in Slow Homecoming, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1983.
Kindergeschichte (novella), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1981, translated by Ralph Manheim as "Children's Stories" in Slow Homecoming, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1983.
Slow Homecoming, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1983.
Across (novella), translated by Ralph Manheim, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1986.
Die Wiederholung, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1986, translated by Ralph Manheim as Repetition, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1988.
Nachmittag eines Schriftstellers, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1987, translated by Ralph Manheim as The Afternoon of a Writer, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1989.
Die Abwesenheit: ein Marchen, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1987, translated as Absence, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1990.
Das Spiel vom Fragen; oder, Die Reise zum Sonoren, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1989, translated as Voyage to the Sonorous Land; or, The Art of Asking and The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other, Yale University Press (New Haven, CT), 1996.
Langsam im Schatten, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1992.
Mein Jahr in der Niemandsbucht: Ein Marchen aus den neuen Zeiten, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1994, translated by Krishna Winston as My Year in the No-Man's-Bay, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1998.
In einer dunklen Nacht ging ich aus meinem stillen Haus, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1997, translated by Krishna Winston as On a Dark Night I Left My Silent House, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 2000.
Der Bildverlust, oder, Durch die Sierra de Gredos, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 2002.
Publikumsbeschimpfung (produced in Frankfurt, 1966), published in Publikumsbeschimpfung und andere Sprechstücke (see below), translated by Michael Roloff as Offending the Audience in Kaspar and Other Plays, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1969.
Selbstbezichtigung (produced in Öberhausen, Germany, 1966), published in Publikumsbeschimpfung und andere Sprechstücke (see below), translated by Michael Roloff as Self-Accusation in Kaspar and Other Plays, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1969.
Publikumsbeschimpfung und andere Sprechstücke, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1966, translated by Michael Roloff as Kaspar and Other Plays, Farrar, Straus & Giroux, 1969, published as Offending the Audience, Methuen (London, England), 1971.
Weissagung (produced in Öberhausen, Germany, 1966), published in Publikumsbeschimpfung und andere Sprechstücke, translated by Michael Roloff as Prophecy in The Ride across Lake Constance and Other Plays, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1976.
Hilferufe (produced in Stockholm, Sweden, 1967), published in Deutsches Theater der Gegenwart 2, 1967, translated by Michael Roloff as Calling for Help in The Ride across Lake Constance and Other Plays, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1976.
Kaspar (produced in Frankfurt, Germany, 1968), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1968, translated by Michael Roloff (produced in New York, NY, 1973), published in Kaspar and Other Plays (Farrar, Strauss & Giroux (New York, NY), 1969, published separately, Methuen (London, England), 1972.
Das Mundel will Vormund sein (produced in Frankfurt, Germany, 1969), published in Peter Handke, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1969, translated by Michael Roloff as My Foot My Tutor in The Ride across Lake Constance and Other Plays (Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1976.
Quodlibet (produced in Basle, Switzerland, 1970), published in Theater Heute, March, 1970, translated by Michael Roloff in The Ride across Lake Constance and Other Plays, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1976.
Wind und Meer: 4 Hörspiele (title means "Wind and Sea: Four Radio Plays"), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1970.
Chronik der laufenden Ereignisse (film scenario; title means "Chronicle of Current Events"), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1971.
Der Ritt über den Bodensee (produced in Berlin, Germany, 1971), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1971, translated by Michael Roloff as The Ride across Lake Constance (produced in New York, NY, 1972), published in The Contemporary German Drama, Equinox Books (New York, NY),1972, published separately, Methuen (London, England), 1973.
Die Unvernünftigen sterben aus (produced in Zürich, Switzerland, 1974), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1973, translated by Michael Roloff and Karl Weber as They Are Dying Out, Methuen (London, England), 1975.
The Ride across Lake Constance and Other Plays, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1976.
Das ende des Flanierens, Davidpresse, 1976.
(And director) The Left-Handed Woman (screenplay; adaptation of Handke's novel), 1978.
Über die Dörfer: Dramatisches (dramatic poem; produced in Salzburg, Austria, 1982), music by Walter Zimmermann, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1981.
Die Geschichte des Bleistifts, Residenz Verlag (Salzburg, Austria), 1982.
Der Chinese des Schmerzes, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1983.
Phantasien der Wiederholung, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1983.
Aber ich lebe nur von den Zwischenreaumen, Ammann, 1987.
(With Wim Wenders) Der Himmel über Berlin: ein Filmbuch (screenplay), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1987, translated as Wings of Desire, Orion, 1988.
Die Theaterstucke, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1992.
Die Stunde da wir nichts voneinander wussten: Ein Schauspiel, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1992.
Walk about the Village: A Dramatic Poem, Ariadne Press (Riverside, CA), 1996.
Zurüstungen für die Unsterblichkeit: ein Königsdrama, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1997.
Die Fahrt im Einbaum; oder, Das Stück zum Fiolm vom Kreig (title means "Journey in a Canoe; or, The Play about the Film of the War"; produced in Vienna, Austria, 1999), translated by Scott Abbott, 2001.
Undertagblues: ein Stationendrama, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 2003.
Die Innenwelt der Aussenwelt der Innenwelt, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1969, portions translated by Michael Roloff as The Innerworld of the Outerworld of the Innerworld, Seabury Press (New York, NY), 1974.
Als das Wünschen noch geholfen hat, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1974, translated by Michael Roloff as Nonsense and Happiness, Urizen Books (New York, NY), 1976.
Noch einmal für Thukydides, Residenz (Salzburg, Austria), 1990, translated by Tess Lewis as Once Again for Thucydides, New Directions (New York, NY), 1999.
Begrüssung des Aufsichtsrats (experimental prose pieces; title means "Welcoming the Board of Directors"; also see below), Residenz (Salzburg, Austria), 1967.
(Compiler) Der gewöhnliche Schrecken (title means "The Ordinary Terror"), Residenz (Salzburg, Austria), 1969.
Peter Handke: Prosa, Gedichte, Theaterstücke, Hör-spiel, Aufsätze (collected works) Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1969.
Deutsche Gedichte (title means "German Poems"), Euphorion-Verlag, 1969.
Ich bin ein Bewohner des Elfenbeinturms (essays; title means "I Live in an Ivory Tower"), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1972.
Wunschloses Unglück (biography), Residenz Verlag, 1972, translated by Ralph Manheim as A Sorrow beyond Dreams, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1975, 3rd edition, with notes by Julie Wigmore, St. Martin's Press (New York, NY), 1993, introduction by Jeffrey Eugenides, New York Review of Books (New York, NY), 2002.
Stücke, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1972.
Stücke 2, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1973.
(Author of text) Wiener Läden, photographs by Didi Petrikat, Hanser (Munich, Germany), 1974.
Falsche Bewegung (film scenario; title means "False Move"), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1975.
Das Gewicht der Welt: ein Journal, Residenz Verlag, 1977, translated by Ralph Manheim as The Weight of the World, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1984.
Gedicht an die Dauer, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1986.
(Author of text) Walter Pichler: Skupturen, Zeichnugne, Modelle (exhibition catalogue), Die Galerie (Frankfurt am Main, Germany), 1987.
Versuch über die Mudigkeit (essay), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1989, published in The Jukebox, and Other Essays on Storytelling, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1994.
Wiederholung (fairy tales), Collier (New York, NY), 1989.
Versuch über die Jukebox (essay), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1990, translated in The Jukebox, and Other Essays on Storytelling, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1994.
Versuch über den gegluckten Tag (essay), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1991, translated in The Jukebox, and Other Essays on Storytelling, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1994.
Abschied des Träumers vom Neunten Land (essay; title means "The Dreamer's Farewell from the Ninth Land"), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1992.
Noch einmal vom Neuten Land, Gespräch mit Jöze Horvat, Wieser, 1993.
André Müller im Gespräch mit Peter Handke, Bibliothek der Provinz, 1993.
The Jukebox, and Other Essays on Storytelling, Farrar, Straus & Giroux (New York, NY), 1994.
Eine Winterliche Reise zu den Flüssen Donau, Save, Morawa, und Drina; oder, Gerechtingkeit für Serbien (essay; originally published in Süddeutsche Zeitung, January, 1996), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1996, translated by Scott Abbott as A Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia, Viking (New York, NY), 1997.
Sömmerlicher Nachtrag zu einer Winterlichte Reise (essay; title means "A Summer's Addendum to a Winter's Voyage"), Suhrkamp (Franfurt, Germany), 1996.
Am Felsfenster Morgens: und andere Ortszeiten 1982–1987, Residenz (Salzburg, Austria), 1998.
(With Lisl Ponger) Ein Wortland: eine Reisse durch Kärnten, Slowenien, Friaul, Istrien und Dalmatien (travel writing), Wiser (Klagenfurt), 1998.
Lucie im Wald mit den Dingsda: eine Geschichte, Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 1999.
Unter Tränen fragend: nachträgliche Aufzeichnungen von zwei Jugoslawien-Durchquerungen im Krieg, März und April 1999 (title means "Notes after the Fact on Two Trips through Yugoslavia during the War, March and April 1999"), Suhrkamp (Frankfurt, Germany), 2000.
(With Dimitri Analis) Milos Sobaic, Différence (Paris, France), 2002.
Contributor to periodicals and newspapers, including Süddeutsche Zeitung.
ADAPTATIONS: A Sorrow beyond Dreams was dramatized as a monologue by Daniel Freudenberger, and staged at the Marymount Manhattan Theatre, 1977.
SIDELIGHTS: Described by New York Times Book Review contributor Lee Siegel as "a cross between Holden Caulfield and Bertolt Brecht," Austrian-born writer Peter Handke rose to prominence as a major figure in postmodern German literature during the 1970s and 1980s. A prolific writer of novels, plays, screenplays, poems, travel writing, and political reportage, Handke is highly respected as a stylistic innovator and as a chronicler of psychological alienation.
Nicholas Hern, in Peter Handke: Theatre and Anti-Theatre, joined other critics in suggesting that Handke's legal training may have been an important influence on his prose style. Hern pointed out that the majority of Handke's "plays and novels consist of a series of affirmative propositions each contained within one sentence…. The effect … is not unlike the series of clauses in a contract or will or statute-book, shorn of linking conjunctions. It is as if a state of affairs or a particular situation were being defined and constantly redefined until the final total definition permits of no mite of ambiguity." Handke's prose has reminded other readers of the propositions making up Ludwig Wittgenstein's Tractatus Logico-Philosophicus; the inquiries into language characteristic of both Wittgenstein and the French structuralists touch on themes that are central to Handke's work. Discussing his more strictly literary masters, Handke once said that American novelist William Faulkner remains the most important of all writers to him.
Handke's remarkable style was first displayed in the experimental prose pieces he wrote and published in magazines while still a university student, as well as in Die Hornissen, which reminded many reviewers of the French "new novel" of that era. Die Hornissen, which appeared in the spring of 1966, was generally well received, but its success was not what made Handke suddenly appear on the international literary scene. In April, 1966, he participated in the twenty-eighth convention of Group 47, an association of German writers that met in Princeton, New Jersey. On the last day of the conference Handke, then aged twenty-four, began what came to be called "Handke-Publicity." In his book, Group 47, Siegfried Mandel wrote: "Shaking his Beatle-mane, Handke … railed against what he had been listening to: impotent narrative; empty stretches of descriptive (instead of analytical) writing pleasing to the ears of the older critics; monotonous verbal litanies, regional and nature idyllicism, which lacked spirit and creativeness. The audience warmed up to the invective with cheers, and later even those whose work had been called idiotic, tasteless, and childish came over to congratulate the Group 47 debutant and to patch things up in brotherly fashion."
Handke's first play was a major hit when it was produced during a week of experimental new drama in Frankfurt. In Publikumsbeschimpfung—Offending the Audience—all the comfortable assumptions of bourgeois theater are called into question and the audience is systematically mocked and insulted. The play continued to remain popular with German theatregoers, as did Handke's other early "sprechstücke"—plays which in various ways investigate the role of language in defining the individual's social identity.
The power of language is also the theme of Kaspar, Handke's first full-length play, which focuses on 1828 Nuremberg and the actual case of a sixteen-year-old boy who had apparently been confined all his life in a closet, and who was discovered physically full-grown but with the intellect of an infant. Kaspar Hauser's story intrigued a number of writers, and in Handke's play he is indoctrinated with conventional moral precepts in the process of being taught to speak. As Nicholas Hern put it, "the play is an abstract demonstration of the way an individual's individuality is stripped from him by society, specifically by limiting the expressive power of the language it teaches him." In Germany Kaspar was voted play of the year, and was regarded by many critics as one of the country's most important postwar dramas.
Handke has continued to write plays, for stage as well as for radio, television, and the screen. Discussing Handke's second full-length play, The Ride across Lake Constance, most critics thought the play dealt with the problems of communication, though in a baroque and bewildering fashion. Handke's approach fascinated reviewers, several of whom could make no sense of it at all. Hern wrote that in this play, "Handke has moved from a Wittgensteinian distrust of language to a Foucaultian distrust of what our society calls reason. His play is by no means surrealist in externals only: it parallels the surrealists' cardinal desire—the liberation of men's minds from the constraints of reason. Thus Handke continues to demonstrate that the consistently anti-theatrical stance which he has maintained throughout his dramatic writing can none the less lend concrete theatrical expression to abstract, philosophical ideas, thereby generating a new and valid form of theatre."
Meanwhile, Handke established a second reputation as one of the most important German novelists of his generation. His first success in this form was The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, which reflects the same preoccupations as do his plays. The partly autobiographical Short Letter, Long Farewell, about a young Austrian writer's haphazard journey across the United States to a dangerous meeting with his estranged wife, had a mixed but generally favorable reception. And there was little but praise for A Sorrow beyond Dreams, Handke's profoundly sensitive account of his mother's life, which ended in suicide. In the New York Review of Books, Michael Wood wrote that "Handke's objective tone is a defense against the potential flood of his feel-ings, of course, but it is also a act of piety, an expression of respect: this woman's bleak life is not to be made into 'literature.'… Handke's mother is important not because she is an especially vivid case but because she is not, because she is one of many."
In The Afternoon of a Writer, Handke explores a professional writer's feelings of alienation and anxiety. The protagonist of the work makes no deep connections with other people, choosing instead to withdraw into his writing. His greatest fear is that he will lose his gift of language and imagination—a loss that would leave him completely alienated from the world. Ursula Hegi found The Afternoon of a Writer "fascinating," and commented in the Los Angeles Times Book Review that "Handke's new novel poses interesting questions about the balance between the nature of solitude and the nature of writing." Anthony Vivis of the Times Literary Supplement, however, faulted the extreme minimalism of the work and implied an autobiographical connection between its protagonist and Handke; the novelist, Vivis asserted, "appears to fear the threat, rather than confront the challenge, of his creativity."
Handke's novel Absence also subverts the expectations of plot and character development that are met with more traditional novels. The book portrays the walking journey of four characters who are identified simply as "old man," "young woman," "gambler," and "soldier." Writing in the New York Times Book Review, Elizabeth Tallent commented: "The soldier is defined by his absence, the young woman by her narcissism, the old man by his profound detachment, the gambler by his inability to love. Yet none of them determines the direction of the tale, whose shape is, instead, that of a quest—one conjured from aimlessness." Also praising the novel, Michael Hofmann observed in the Times Literary Supplement that "The book is counter-psychological, magical, perception-led."
My Year in the No-Man's-Bay, a sequel to The Afternoon of a Writer, presents a protagonist named Gregor Keuschnig—called Gregor K., in what New York Times Book Review contributor Lee Siegel identified as a "jab at Kafka"—who is recalling the year of his artistic and spiritual transformation in a nondescript suburb of Paris. Yet Gregor is unable to focus on this particular year; each time he attempts it, he is distracted into telling other stories. "By the time he arrives at the novel's last section," wrote Siegel, "you realize that Gregor has collapsed all time together." Siegel found this structural device "breathtaking," but noted that the result is disappointing. "Rejecting character, plot and psychology as mere fictions," the critic commented, Handke "relies on an ostentatious thematic framework that winds up being more implausible than any old-fashioned novelistic trick."
Handke uses the motif of the journey as a structuring device in On a Dark Night I Left My Silent House. In this novel, a middle-aged pharmacist from a small village near Salzburg is beaten by strangers he encounters on a wooded path. Unable to speak after the attack, he joins a pair of drifters on a long, indirect drive across Europe. The group eventually ends up in Spain, after which the pharmacist slowly hikes back to his village. When he arrives, he discovers that some things seem the same and others seem different. Keith Miller observed in a review for the Times Literary Supplement that this journey suggests several things, including medieval knightly quests, the attraction of Southern Europe to Germanic romantic thinkers, and even an allegory of contemporary Europe in the age of economic union. Noting that the book has the feel of a dream, Miller observed that "if the novel beguiles or engages, it is through its language rather than the usual questions of what happens to whom." New York Times Book Review contributor Kai Maristed also noted the intense interior focus of the book, concluding that "It is Peter Handke's loving gaze, honed by time and discipline, that shows readers the way out again into the world's prolific and astonishing strangeness." Claiming that Handke's pharmacist can be seen as "a kind of fictional blank slate for the writing of theory," New York Times reviewer Richard Bernstein found On a Dark Night I Left My Silent House filled with "disparate images … [that] all suggest the rich randomness of thought," and added that, though the novel's lack of plot is a weakness, "as an assemblage, these images have the capacity to haunt."
With The Jukebox and Other Essays on Storytelling, Handke presents "Essay on Tiredness," "Essay on the Jukebox," and "Essay on the Successful Day." As in Handke's fiction, the psyche of the writer and the seemingly mundane aspects of experience—such as boredom and tiredness—are of central interest. "Essay on the Jukebox," for example, says very little about jukeboxes and instead explores the creative processes of a writer who is preparing to write about jukeboxes. Sven Birkerts commented in the New York Times Book Review that, "Shuttling between fiction and essay, [Handke] is making what feels like a new form, a kind of associative philosophical meditation that both maps and manifests the movements of the mind." Critics emphasized Handke's rambling, digressive, idiosyncratic writing style, praising his dry humor and experimentalism, although some also noted that readers may find the work tedious.
Although his philosophical stance on a number of European matters has been considered controversial, Handke's refusal to use his plays and novels as vehicles for political propaganda was much criticized by German socialists. For Handke's part, he has maintained that literature and political commitment are incompatible: "It would be repugnant to me to twist my criticism of a social order into a story or to aestheticize it into a poem," he writes in one of his essays. "I find that the most atrocious mendacity: to manipulate one's commitment into a poem or to make literature out of it, instead of just saying it loud."
The novelist's caveat against mixing politics and writing does not extend to Handke's nonfiction works, and he is unabashedly political in his books of travel and reportage about the former Yugoslavia. In A Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia, he expresses regret over the dissolution of the Yugoslav federation into separate countries and emphasizes the shared past of the various ethnic groups in the region. At the same time, he argues that the Western media portrayed Serbs in an unfair light during the late twentieth-century war in Bosnia. Most journalists, he writes, "confuse their role … with that of judge, or even demagogue, and … are just as nasty as the dogs of war on the battlefield," emphasizing "the sale of naked, randy, market-oriented facts, or bogus facts." This position, which some took to imply support for the regime of dictator Slobodan Milosovic, earned Handke some ill will within the European community, especially from those who supported the NATO bombing during the conflict. Reviewers, too, raised questions about Handke's position. In the Time Literary Supplement, Edward Timms acknowledged the impact of A Journey to the Rivers, yet commented that "it cannot be said that the book is entirely convincing…. [Handke] tends toward polemical generalization, while his counterbalancing narrative of his encounters in Serbia has an impressionistic subjectivity which at times verges on the sentimental."
For other critics, however, the book's subjectivity was seen as a plus. As Bernd Reinhardt explained in a World Socialist Web site article, "For Handke, the truth about the war is not one-dimensional," and he is intent on correcting what he considers to be serious media distortions. Indeed, though Handke has commented about keeping political content out of artistic works, he made the Bosnia War the subject of his play Journey in a Canoe. While noting the play's theme, Reinhardt pointed out that it contains "no trace of pro-Serbian sentiment."
Commenting on Handke's changing role from outspoken experimentalist to a more inward-looking, metaphysical approach, World Literature Today contributor Erich Wolfgang Skwara explained that the author's unwillingness to go along with social trends in favor of examining "what existence should and must be in order to allow for dignity" has caused his work to be rejected by many critics in Germany. Because of his outsider status, Handke's more recent works have "suffered unfair rejection and criticism—clearly not aimed at the always poetic and convincing texts but meant as a sort of 'revenge' against a poet who refuses to play along with established opinions."
BIOGRAPHICAL AND CRITICAL SOURCES:
Contemporary Literary Criticism, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), Volume 5, 1976, Volume 8, 1978, Volume 10, 1979, Volume 15, 1980, Volume 38, 1986.
DeMeritt, Linda C., New Subjectivity and Prose Forms of Alienation: Peter Handke and Botho Strauss, P. Lang (New York, NY), 1987.
Dictionary of Literary Biography, Volume 124: Twentieth-Century German Dramatists, 1919–1992, Thomson Gale (Detroit, MI), 1992.
Firda, Richard Arthur, Peter Handke, Twayne (New York, NY), 1993.
Hern, Nicholas, Peter Handke: Theatre and Anti-Theatre, Wolff, 1971.
Klinkowitz, Jerome, Peter Handke and the Postmodern Transformation: The Goalie's Journey Home, University of Missouri Press, 1983.
Linstead, Michael, Outer World and Inner World: Socialisation and Emancipation in the Works of Peter Handke, 1964–1981, P. Lang (New York, NY), 1988.
Mandel, Siegfried, Group 47, Southern Illinois University Press, 1973.
Perrarm, Garvin, Peter Handke, The Dynamics of the Poetics and the Early Narrative Prose, P. Lang (New York, NY), 1992.
Ran-Moseley, Faye, The Tragicomic Passion: A History and Analysis of Tragicomedy and Tragicomic Characterization in Drama, Film, and Literature, P. Lang (New York, NY), 1994.
Rischbieter, Henning, Peter Handke, Friedrich, 1972.
Schlueter, June, The Plays and Novels of Peter Handke, University of Pittsburgh Press (Pittsburgh, PA), 1981.
America, April 3, 1999, Robert E. Hosmer, Jr., review of Once Again for Thucydides, p. 23.
Booklist, January 1-15, 1997, p. 806; October 1, 2000, review of On a Dark Night I Left My Silent House, p. 322.
Chicago Tribune, December 1, 1989; December 15, 1989.
Drama Review, fall, 1970.
Economist, October 18, 1997, p. 14.
Kirkus Reviews, June 1, 1994, p. 753; November 1, 1996, p. 1581; November 1, 2000, review of On a Dark Night I Left My Silent House, p. 1517.
Library Journal, July, 1994, p. 93; January 1, 1997, p. 124; December, 2002, Ali Houissa, review of A Sorrow beyond Dreams, p. 127.
Los Angeles Times, May 22, 1985; June 25, 1986; May 20, 1988.
Los Angeles Times Book Review, July 16, 1989, p. 3.
Modern Drama, spring, 1995, p. 143; July, 1996, pp. 39-40; winter, 1996, p. 680.
Nation, December 4, 1989; January 12, 1997, p. 12.
New Leader, October 2, 1989.
New Republic, February 28, 1970; September 28, 1974; May 23, 1988.
New Statesman, August 5, 1988; July 13, 1990, p. 36; July 19, 1991, p. 38.
Newsweek, July 3, 1978.
New Yorker, December 25, 1989.
New York Review of Books, May 1, 1975; June 23, 1977; September 21, 2000, J.S. Marcus, reviews of My Year in the No-Man's Bay, Repetition, and A Sorrow beyond Dreams, pp. 80-81.
New York Times, January 30, 1977; March 22, 1971; June 17, 1978; January 25, 1980; April 2, 1980; July 12, 1984; June 25, 1986; April 29, 1988; August 28, 1989; September 3, 1989, p. 17; September 7, 1994, p. C17; March 18, 1996, p. A7; November 29, 2000, Richard Bernstein, review of On a Dark Night I Left My Silent House.
New York Times Book Review, May 21, 1972; September 15, 1974; April 27, 1975; July 31, 1977; June 18, 1978; July 22, 1984; August 4, 1985; July 17, 1986; August 7, 1988; June 17, 1990, p. 8; August 21, 1994, p. 10; April 6, 1997, p. 16; October 25, 1998, Lee Siegel, review of My Year in the No-Man's-Bay; December 17, 2000, Kai Maristed, review of On a Dark Night I Left My Silent House, p. 15.
Publishers Weekly, September 12, 1977; October 30, 2000, review of On a Dark Night I Left My Silent House, p. 45.
Review of Contemporary Fiction, summer, 2001, Michael Pinker, review of On a Dark Night I Left My Silent House, p. 163.
Süddeutsche Zeitung, May 14, 1999, interview with Handke.
Text und Kritik, no. 24, 1969 (Handke issue).
Time, May 9, 1988.
Times (London, England), May 15, 1972; November 13, 1973; December 9, 1973; April 3, 1980; July 25, 1985; August 4, 1988; July 8, 1989.
Times Literary Supplement, April 21, 1972; December I, 1972; April 18, 1980; July 17, 1981; November 15, 1985; October 3, 1986; October 5, 1990; May 24, 1991; April 26, 1996, p. 29; April 26, 1996, Edward Timms, review of Eine winterliche Reise zuden Flüssen Donau, Save, Morawa und Drina; December 22, 2000, Keith Miller, review of On a Dark Night I Left My Silent House.
Tribune Books (Chicago, IL), July 3, 1988.
Washington Post Book World, July 28, 1985.
World Literature Today, spring, 1987, p. 284; spring, 1991, p. 301; autumn, 1992, p. 716; summer, 1993, p. 604; summer, 1995, p. 572; summer, 1997, p. 584; winter, 1997, p. 147; summer, 1999, review of Am Felsfenster Morgens, p. 523; autumn, 1999, review of Die Fahrt im Einbaum, p. 728; winter, 2001, Scott Abbott, review of Unter Tränen fragend, p. 78; April-June, 2003, Erich Wolfgang Skwara, review of Der Bildverlust, oder Durch die Sierra de Gredos, p. 77.
World Socialist Web Site, http://www.wsws.org/ (August II, 1999), Bernd Reinhardt, "The Austrian Writer Peter Handke, European Public Opinion, and the War in Yugoslavia."