Sunday, January 21, 2018


This is/ will be a running occasional sometimes daily commentary on, initially, my first reading of Peter Handke's 2017 epic DIE OBSTDIEBIN / THE FRUIT THIEF 


A goodly chunk of the SPECIFICS ALEXIA Sections re OBTDIEB/ FRUIT THIEF REV EW are i now online @

last posting MAY 1   last posting is always at the very bottom of this page.


II until completion then at its own handke ddiscussion  blog in its entirety. x mr


At what point while thinking of  memorializing his perambulations in the Picardie did the idea of using Alexia as a medium occur to Handke? For, initially, during the first quarter of the book -  set in the NO-MAN’S BAY environs - there is no mention of her.
The author sets out on a fine bee-sting high summer day but there is no mention that he will be looking for Alexia the Fruit Thief. Only on the train to Clergy-Pointoise

– nearly a quarter way into the book - he mistakes a young woman all bundled-up for Alexia, and that is how we find out that he is looking for her, and he finds her and with her, sometimes through her eyes and ears, we first of all explore and dissertate on the agglomeration Clergy-Pointoise… and - but for interesting authorial descriptions, much later in the book, of what he the NO-MAN’S BAY writer is up to, narrating in the first person singular or, later, for a while the plural  - Alexia remains his medium for the expedition from Clergy via Chars always along the river Voisne to Claumond sur Oesne – a 60 kilometer hike that feels like a  it took a month – it is so rich in observed detail and thought.
 . Clergy-Pointoise itself is explored for not quite one day - one afternoon and night and early morning - and I felt I really really knew the place and how to get around it – testimony to Handke’s power as a writer to inscribe details into my mind – but I can see no particular reason why Handke needed surrogate Alexia to narrate his acquaintance with Clergy-Pointoise or to spend an amazing night in a house in mourning or to describe the few old village parts that rationalist modernization have spared, not consumed in this agglomeration: great stuff! And narrated at diary easy-going pace. - Or Alexia being quite unable to get back out of town as the hedged-in sub-urban circular developments keep interposing themselves – you and I know them well from the US of A.
   Anyhoo, who is this Alexia that Handke needs her, to tell his Picardie story in the form of an adventure?   - First of all to make his acquaintance with the region, acquired over a number of years, interesting and the pace certainly picks up once Alexia hits… not the road but the river Viosne valley!

Generally speaking, Alexia, methinks, is yet another of Handke’s surrogates, Josef Bloch, Keuschnig, Sorger, Loser, Filip Kobal, etc., etc.

She is Handke’s dissociated medium which points to his ability – manifested most manifestly in GOALIE, where Bloch is presented as a paranoid schizophrenic, and via grammatical sleight of hand puts the reader in that state of mind – which means that Handke as a person is the very opposite of anything of the kind since he seems, at least when writing, to be able to dissociate a medium surrogate and, thus, has that rare ability also at other times – spooky, to understand a schizophrenic state of mind – and I think at least the equal if not of a higher order than Stephen Daedalus using the image of paring of fingernails on a Rembrandt painting to describe the objectifying writing process [FN]
Image result for rembrandt paintings paring of fingernail

In that respect each of these mediums surrogates are cut from the cloth of their author, amusingly as in the case of „Keuschnig” of A MOMENT OF TRUE FEELNG & NO-MAN’S BAY – someone who dwells in an Austrian peasant’s hut and is „keusch” – chaste, which Handke  - though he used to need to make serious attempts in that direction certainly was anything but for decades, and which is the sort of thing that can get a layabroad into all kinds of trouble and have consequences – the fear of  that girl in the reeds in MORAVIAN NIGHT that is ready to assassinate, and similar paranoia in NO-MAN’S BAY are entirely justified, Erinyes all.
   Sorger and Loser, too, indicate qualities of their creator, the Bankieress presents me with identificatory problems but perhaps she is Handke’s capitalist side to which he admitted to Mueller in one of his interviews; that Taxham fellow who is used to write in dream grammar in ONE DARK NIGHT is most interesting, and Alexia, St. Alexius twin, is being used here most imaginatively and perhaps wishfully as the kind of youthful adventurer the author is not quite anymore now in his 70s.

More specifically, Alexia is said to be the daughter of the Bankieress from Crossing the Sierra del Gredos, irrelevantly since this is just a novelistic touch which adds nothing and which Handke could have spared himself. Chiefly, Alexia strikes me as the younger sister of the Lefthanded Woman. [FN] She is chaste – not withdrawn from a husband yet she has the chastest of dreams, a sixteen year old’s dream it reminded me of – and this is the sole section that gives the reader an idea of who she is, as does her behavior of not hooking up with her companion -
The dream allows the possibility of a future husband, and though not entirely non-carnal, I find it hard to tell whether Alexia – who earlier on suffers an amusing episode as Hamletina – might not be on the opposite way to the kind of nunnery that Hamlet tells Ophelia to get to – or even to assume the soul of St. Teresa of Avila who is mentioned in the context.  Alexia, the twin sister of St. Alexius under the Stairs

does not have her name because Handke is courting the M Windows’ helpmate ‘Alexa!’

Come the day that Handke makes his peace with the Internet even though the Austrian state’s literature department has created a site for the material that he sold them for a hefty sum.

How  truly wissenschaftlich / scholarly  and scientific we are going to be remains to be seen.

Alexia is presented as a vagabond who has been all over the world – to lots of the same places that Peter Handke has been: Alaska, Detroit, Spain’s Sierra del Gredos and is said to have just returned from… has Handke been? … Siberia! However, associations with these places are not even a bare minimum and don’t add anything much. Are part of what strikes me as a rater desultory attempt to satisfy certain not altogether pleasurable novelistic requirements. Sketchy and contradictory-- About as much as the disconcerting refrain that Alexia, a haute bourgeois French dropout, is a fan of Eminem, no mention of French contemporary chansonniers.
Alexia also does quite a few things that Handke does in other “walking” books – such as walk backwards prior to getting underway in a forward direction! She and thresholds share the thresholders apprehensions in that respect.
She seems to be in her mid-twenties - but as you get to know her she is a twenty-something who does not hook up with young  Valter - the pizza delivery boy who - as compared the dog that is so amusingly told to split in one of the book's wonderful theatrical passages - follows her like a human dog - and they spend a night in separate rooms in the Auberge Dieppe and she has that fascinating chaste dream - our Fruit Thief is said to have tramped all over the world and gone half a year to the university in Pointoise but is entirely atypical of such world travelers and of contemporary young women and does not seem to be Laocadie, Handke’s 2nd daughter, though Handke might have consulted Laocadie in some matters relating to young French women if he had had real interest in rendering such.
I have this hunch that Alexia only occurred to him about a quarter of the ways into a book that might also have remained just a detailed account of one of his expeditions with the Picardie, which would have been a well-developed but far less interesting travel diary that would have been devoid these numerous essayistic passages that indicate an author of some experience with existence and are not penned by Alexia and have little if any bearing on her..
 Alexia  or an  adventurer like her might have been there at the bee-sting start, as traveling companion who, e.g. regards the NO-MAN’S BAY with fresh eyes? - Why this cumbersome way of suddenly looking for her and finding her? Not elegant at all. Within the context of a lot of verbal razzmatazz Handke performs a few mis-steps and does so in the way he describes the [his] analog - that he cites on page  x the star midfielder of PSG [Paris-St. Germain] who makes the world’s most astonishing shots - a supreme genius - but is then awkward beyond belief! -“tollpatchig” a deceased German critic who gave Handke the hardest of time, called it, a supreme genius who can be bit of an idiot – idiots with whom Handke feels such affinity as you read his texts! A bit like the KASPAR of a play of his.  

Alexia is said to be the daughter of the Bankieress from Sierra del Gredos – a matter that adds nothing, one aspect of ‘novelizing’ that Handke in rather ordinary and desultory badly edited fashion exercises here; as little as finding out in MORAWIAN NIGHT that Filip Kobal the protagonist of THE REPETION now writes film scripts – the only time that this “in-ness” of  being in a Handke-world worked for me was when Josef Bloch, the paranoid-schizophrenic murderer of GOALIE’S ANXIETY AT THE PENALTY KICK who is arrested at the moment that the soccer ball, to his immense surprise, hits his midriff, resurfaces in WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES as one of the worker-clowns and mucks around the woods frightening the natives.- Handke, once upon the time of A Slow Homecoming, said he would never be novelistic in this fashion, and this way of being “in” was something that used to annoy him in Thomas Mann. Alexia the vagabond can wander anywhere she likes and does not need the obvious motivation of a not overly exciting family get together as an excuse, we hear nothing about it until the end as it is about to transpire. “That is how the tale wants it, the way the tale tells it.” is a frequent imprecation by an author who admits at the end that he, a dweller of the NO-MAN’S-BAY, is writing the book. He could easily have come out and said, “It’s me Peter Handke, I am writing a Peter Handke Book, and using Alexia will be a lot more fun, allows my imagination and playfulness to roam as I can’t just do in a notebook or a travel account.” And no one would mind – certainly not this late in the game.
Alexia’s expedition becomes s so rich in adventurous richly detailed events that I felt I had been underway for weeks – not just the three days for the 60 kilometers from Clergy to Chaumond - a distortion of my sense of time which might be yet one more of Handke’s customary head games – defamiliarization - that he has been playing, differently each time, since OFFENDING, especially in The Ride Across Lake Constance [fn] and THE REPETITION –
As her creator’s magnificently observant eyes and ears during his exploration of a stretch of the French country side, Alexia only rarely engages in incidental filching of fruit her three day trek - once she takes over for Handke the NO-MAN’S-BAY narrator - familiarizes the reader so intimately with the Picardie – the three towns Clergy-Pointoise, Char and Chaumond and the river Voisne and the Vexin plateau that I suspect future admirers will want to retrace these footsteps - just as current admirers have followed Filip Kobal’s itinerary as he traverses the Karst/Caro in Austro-Slovenian The Repetition./

Alexia at one point is said to be on her expedition looking for her mother – why the Bankieress of all people might be lost like that lost cat in these wilds is an issue that is never explained, it makes no sense. Alexia smells her perfume in the tiny chambre that she spends a saintly night in at the Auberge Dieppe, but then it turns out that the object of her expedition was a family get together at the end of her trip in Chaumont sur Oesne – no mention of anything of the kind throughout and why that arduous adventure preceding a family get together?
It seems to me that all this contradictory family material seems to have been made up along the way as Handke was writing and felt that Alexia needed some kind of novelistic architecture which I regard as entirely superfluous but for one instance where Alexia receives the kind of a paternal advice that Handke might have addressed to his own daughter and of which he is making fine fun here as a persiflage. A few times, then, Alexia references something her father said. But that is that.
Alexia is given a brother ten years her junior, she calls him a few time, it turns out he works at her final destination Chaumond sure Oesne as a carpenter’s  apprentice,  and his profession affords Handke the opportunity to once again sing that craft’s praises, which I - once upon graduation, and at Breadloaf Writers on the weekends and nights, worked as a union tile [Pollacks!] and {Wops] marble worker’s apprentice - entirely share. But there was absolutely no need in this wonderful epic jaunt through the Picardie to equip Handke’s surrogate eyes and ears with a family of any kind. Or to leave this material in badly and contradictory fashion lying around like woodcuttings at workbench that was not cleaned up. Was the book in that respect meant to be left a bit “dirty?” - For all I know that may be intentional – the book is an assemblage – not just an adventure story with some brilliantly recounted adventures, but all kinds of small essays .
Are his editors and first readers frightened of the fellow who I was appalled to read recently gave his old-time Austrian editor Jung a tongue lashing? [fn] - But I think I am wrong and Handke knows that the reviewers need a simple hook for their work, a motivation, most of them mention that the object is a family get together or the search for the Bankieress mother - and not the “dark day of the soul” that Alexia suffers and its reference to Handke’s THE GREAT FALL, not that amazing near unending reprieve of the end of WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES with its even grimmer sayings such as “be enamored of your despair.” [When will someone write a great dissertation on the influence of that great play on Handke’s work for nigh forty years, how it keeps efflorescing?]
 End of some very minor caviling on a book that I am reading like a Peter Handke book - but where I praise as highly as I do here, and I know the fellow knows how to dissemble and play games and is self-indulgent as hell and I love nearly every minute of it.

The way the narrative is set up – “that’s the way the tale wants “-and with the author’s admission at the end that he cannot imagine a story where the story teller does not admit of his telling, that no story “tells itself” [but he would agree that dreams do I imagine?]-  he could have just said, say, after leaving Clergy-Pointoise “I am now going to use my medium Alexia, for 1 she is nimbler for such a long trek, and, secondly, that way I can write all kinds of little essays about what transpires.”  But I find it odd indeed that the two nights of her expedition are spent, interestingly in both cases, in different inns, and I wonder whether Handke ever sleeps - during his many country walks - say, under the Hawthorne tree on an August moon, whether at the Bering sea he slept in an igloo? – I note his many interestingly described hotel stays, including one in the Kosovo, but wonder how hardy a vagabond he is while conceding that the likes of Handke and the Norman Mailer of Why Are We in Vietnam, can absorb, say, the wildflowers in the Brooks Range, in a day that take me a week to incorporate.       
Alexia’s expedition becomes also a pilgrimage with ordeals and not so much resembles anything that Willehalm might have experienced but someone seeking sainthood. -  Alexia, the twin sister of our old familiar St. Alexius Under the Stairs 


HERE sections OI & II of five OF MY 10 K PIECE ON ALEXIA, FRUIT THIEF - will post completed piece later in the month.

You may fancy an artist’s work as much as Foie Gras and that is despite the chance that if you meet that artist in person it will be the goose.” Freely, after Arthur Koestler.800-364-3039






HANDKE’S DIE OBSTDIEBIN / ALEXIA, THE FRUIT THIEF – a verbally and narratively marvelous portmanteau of a wandering Handke book –  

translation of whose deceptive German sub-title 


“An Ordinary Trip to the…Heartland”

would do the title trick, too, 

    in ONE respect____
could not be a simpler book:

A NO-MAN’S BAY author sets out in high summer August days

"This story began on one of those midsummer days on which if you walk barefoot in the grass you will get the first bee sting of the year. At least that is what kept happening to me, though meanwhile I know that the days of the first and often unique annual bee sting usually coincide with the white clover starting to bloom, at ground level, where the bees, half-hidden,  scurry about.”

on an expedition into the Picardie, a picturesque region north of Paris where the likes of Van Gogh, too, have found visual inspiration, and first acquaints us with the goings on in his immediate surround – fans of the great NO-MAN’S BAY

may be interested how those environs have fared - and in Chaville - takes a trip to Paris and then takes a highly observant  train trip toward his destination – that is the first fourth of the book at which point he substitutes Alexia, the incidental Fruit Filcher, a rural flaneur vagabond in her mid-twenties, as a most adventurous explorer of the 60 kilometer stretch – in three days - from Clergy-Pointoise via Chars to Chaumont sur Oesne along the river Voisne and on the Vexin Plateau.

Here the links to visuals of these locales/çais


Images of the river Oise:

To Chaumont &  the river Troesne

and of HANDKE in his NO-MAN’S BAY ABODE, and of, CHAVILLE

which – as he - the Austro-German-Slovenian – states, in FRUIT THIEF as well as in NO-MAN’S-BAY, has been immigrant haven for some time. 

Those who have read the book and then check out the links will be smitten by the potency of Handke’s powers of description.

ALEXIA, FRUIT THIEF, thus, could function as the most delightful guide book to this stretch of the Picardie, or as an idiosyncratic compliment or conjunction to the more official boring kind to an area, meanwhile rife with touristy inns!

As we find out from Handke’s longtime occasionally Handke-fired but reinstated Suhrkamp editor Raimund Fellinger

ALEXIA, THE FRUIT THIEF – a book of 150 k + was written - by hand in pencil - between the months of September and December 2016, and thence underwent Handke’s now customary emendations.

It goes without saying though the saying in this instance becomes quite interesting: the reason why ALEXIA necessarily underwent considerable preparation [though probably not in further exploration of NO-MAN’S-BAY environs that Handke must know like the back of his hand], but of the Picardie, for that stretch of land to be portrayed in such ravishing detail – in the sense that the author seems to know each minor hamlet in the area for even a genius fast perceiver like Handke requires time and footwork to accomplish the like - explanations for which close acquaintance is I would think that Handke and his second wife Sophie Semin have bought themselves a rural abode in the region, the second out of Paris home for Sophie who - see MORAWIAN NIGHT – escaped the “cold salamander” NO-MAN’S-BAY abode that is reserved for “cold salamander” preparations of veritable manu-scripts, where Sophie failed to transform herself into a book. [1] 

ALEXIA, FRUUIT THIEF might, thus, also be fruitfully read in conjunction with the NO-MAN’S BAY author’s other recent expedition, the one to Paris - THE GREAT FALL - which ALEXIA references so acutely toward the end during a stretch when she suffers what might be called “a soul’s dark day in bright sunlight” – i.e. the parallel state of mind between the two books in that respect – and yet the soul, though it seems to want to, does not quite inhabit St. Teresa of Avila.

THE GREAT FALL is finally being published, this 2018 Spring, by Seagull via U. of Chicago Press, and provides the other side of this NO-MAN’S-BAY dweller’s existence. [I regard FALL a kind of successor to THE AFTERNOON OF A WRITER, and equally troubling except of course for the writing.]

Here the link to THE GREAT FALL

and to Scott Abbott’s and my discussion of it & to the customary collection of reviews.

Handke, thus, could have easily just done a variant of one of his travel accounts, condensations  

LINK and not bother with the exertion of inventing his surrogate, Alexia, and on the train already is on the lookout for her who then turns the exploration of the Picardie into an adventure story that I read with the same excitement that I used to read Karl May - not an experience I ever thought I would have with a Handke book. 
  Via Handke’s doppelganger Alexia, the fruit thief’s wanderings become the subject of the narration which becomes ever more playful and adventurous, quite a bit more so than Handke, now in his 70s, might be himself – getting himself all wrapped up in a blackberry thicket? - at least physically. It is in this fashion that FRUIT THIEF becomes an agglomeration with all kinds of asides – a real Handke book – impure – agglomeration being a term that the book itself uses when it describes [in such great detail!] the Picardie town of Cergy-Pointoise which French rationalization has assembled and made weird after WW II - and Handke used agglomeration as the French have and with I would think entirely unintentional irony, unaware I expect that the term might also be used to describe the FRUIT THIEF portmanteau .

Not only does Handke seem to have a lot of fun with the monologues and other digressions - the dramalets, the integration of his abilities as a dramatist [more on that aspect anon in III IV and on 

some individual brief essay-like passages] - that break but, surprisingly I must say, never slow the underlying narrative drive once the adventure into the Picardie is underway after Alexia’s one night at Clergy-Pontoise, and it is a strong narrative drive I never expected from Handke who usually manages to slow things down - but I guess it just goes to show that a claim he wrote me at the time he completed A MOMENT OF TRUE FEELING that he had reached a stage where he was “capable of doing everything in his writing”, that he had the kind of command if you are in charge of all the instruments in a symphony orchestra. 
Subsequent to translating WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES and ever after, especially with HOUR WE KNEW NOTHING OF EACH OTHER I have had no reason to doubt his claim.- And it is the sort of thing that ought to make you shiver it is so spooky!
Handke is an exhibitionist with something to exhibit. Each of his exhibitions is a “look Ma’, no hands,” act, a Seiltanz and though a few of his works and acts were scandals, his initial public appearance in Princeton in 1966, OFFENDING THE AUDIENCE, and JOURNEY TO THE RIVERS 
his appearance at the funeral of Slawomir Milosevic’s is the only instance in which he made the world at large – and the world is not a Backfisch - blush
However, the adventure as a whole, Alexia’s, is not any old adventure – it has stages, it has an ordeal, Alexia acquires a male follower, a Pizza delivery boy who attaches himself to her, but whom she does not tell to go away as she delightfully addresses a dog that won’t stop following her. For a stretch she turns into Hamletina, there is an amazing act of salvation – of a moribund cat! And perhaps in that sense Alexia’s journey is analogous to a kind of passion. However,
Handke has said a number of times, as well as in ALEXIA, FRUIT THIEF itself [towards the end], that his idea of epic narration is modeled or inspired by Wolfram von Eschenbach, the 13th century author of Parzifal and of Wolfram’s Willehalm. And he also states that no story of his can tell itself – it requires the intrusion of the narrator and he does here any number of times saying “that’s how the story want
‘s it” – never ask Handke not to contradict himself!
FRUIT THIEF mentions the name of Wolfram a few times and refers directly to Willehalm at the end and FRUIT THIEF also sprinkles in some French, but in fact that’s   pretty much the only matters that these two so entirely different epics have in common.

“Its [Willehalm’s] account of conflict between Christian and Muslim cultures, centering on the warrior-saint Willehalm and his wife Gyburc, a convert from Islam, challenges the ideology of the Crusades. It celebrates the heroism, faith, and family solidarity of the Christians, but also displays the suffering of both sides in the war and questions the justification of all killing. Gyburc, whose abandonment of her Muslim family and conversion to Christianity are the immediate cause of the war, bears a double burden of sorrow, and it is from her that springs a vision of humanity transcending religious differences that is truly remarkable for its time. In Gyburc's heathen brother Rennewart and his love for the French king's daughter, Wolfram also develops a richly comic strand in the narrative, with the outcome left tantalizingly open by the work's probably unfinished conclusion. .. Wolfram's supreme qualities as a story-teller.”  

  Handke, who early on noticed how his equal as artificer James Joyce had managed to assure himself of continued scholarly attention and, thus, of one feasible continued life for his work, pulls the wool over the eyes of current scholars, leads them down the garden path, sie gehen ihm auf den Leim, they invariably seem to fall into the trap and buy his red herrings, most grievously here the professor reviewer for LITERATUR KRITIK who falls for Handke’s suggestion hook line and sinker!,24080.html
 Pal and admired scholar Scott Abbot fell for the suggesting that MORAWIAN is a book about narration – as though Handke required a tome of 500 + pages for that purpose!? - these dear people miss that Handke wrote an earlier version of Moravian called SAMARA

that was already typeset at which point the author discovered opportunities to elaborate; and since he is the publisher’s star author he is indulged and the first setting is junked but ends up with the Austrian research site.

MORAWIAN has the kind of open-ended set-up that would allow Handke to add any number of further chapters once he’d got a drift of how or whether to present them with equal metaphoric dramatic aplomb and painterly force; that is the Morawa, the boat on which these tales are told, could be set adrift down the Morawa River into the Danube and end up in the Black Sea.
MORAWIAN NIGHT features not only quite a bit of walking and all over the map, especially but not exclusively in the Balkans, and has its share of Handke’s wonderfully described bus rides, too, and is rich in the kind of Handke raisins that will keep the scholars busy for a long time

Oh yes, Wolfram provides the appropriate – to high summer weather that pervades the entire book - opening epigraph:

Man gesach den lichten summer
in so maniger varve nie
[You never used to see high summer in such a many-colored way]

Filip Kobal’s focused wanderings in THE REPETITION had a Parsifal-like quality. Yet Handke’s five epic novels – THE REPETITION, MY YEAR IN THE NO-MAN’S BAY, BILDVERLUST, ACROSS THE SIERRA DEL GREDOS, MORAVIAN NIGHT, and the current FRUIT THIEF are all very different kinds of epics 

FRUIT THIEF [2017] is Handke’s fifth epic of a kind of “monstrum” he once promised he would never commit [thinking they would remain incomplete, e.g. like Musil’s, who died prematurely in exile in Switzerland of a heart attack in 1942]. 

Each of Handke’s major oeuvre of the epic kind – not including the one would-be monstrum that Handke left the way he had feared he might – are major exertions and have specific wandering locales and no matter how different from each other narratively – it is typical for Handke not to repeat himself or as little as possible - and what a nuisance for reviewers and the like – these epics are wandering walking novels – written by an author who noted in WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES that LINK “It has become hard to walk on the earth,” as indeed it has with the impediments to human and to animal locomotion that the Autobahn builders have put in their way, as they have in the Picardie as well.
Many shorter works, too, e.g. the novel ONE DARK NIGHT and the assayings ON THE JUKE BOX & ON FATIGUE contain amazing descriptions of walking and its pleasures and difficulties.   

1] Langsame Heimkehr / A SLOW HOMECOMING [the novel part of that American edition which includes CHILD STORY & ST. VICTOIRE], is the one incomplete Handke work, which I believe was meant to have epic proportion - Handke referred to his plans as a “Staatsroman” – a kind of official undertaking!? the size of a state? – at any event, something grand that perhaps was meant to demonstrate explore a continuity of large geologic forms?; its protagonist Sorger, a geological surveyor, the novel’s inception in a fairly pristine Alaska hints at epic ambitions of that kind… 

It was I who pointed Handke to Alaska around 1970 when he wrote asking what American winters were like, though he seemed to have forgotten all about the suggestion by the time he returned from Alaska in 1978 - as he did other matters - to NY to write the book. 
 SLOW HOMECOMING’S opening Alaska chapter had a profound effect on me for my having spent nine months in that vastness - fighting forest fires and as a surveyor - see

from the last chapter of my Screen Memories] - traipsing and boating the length and breadth of that huge area as far north as the Brooks Range, inducing an experience of wholeness and immensity of a kind that is more than oceanic or otherly oceanic and that remained unresolved until I read that chapter… May you, too, have experiences of that kind to resolve!... Great San Francisco chapter, but then the text sort of “peters” out – perhaps the locale and time where and when Handke wrote these parts and then, exceptionally, ran out of words – he had been rehearsing its first sentence… “Sorger had outlived many of those who had become close to him; he 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,”… for years on end!  [FN
- in the Hotel Adams on East 86th Street in Manhattan in a room with a view of Central Park in a quiet very upper-class area. -
Perhaps adverse 1978/9 NY conditions are to blame, or over-eagerness to make the transition from less ambitious stuff - I know of no other uncompleted Handke prose work; a few plays expired in draft stage, and but for certain matters which I will address in a footnote I would have asked Handke to go with me when I stopped working around 10-11p.m at my Tribeca office and hit my downtown bars and music clubs CBGBS and MUDD and SCREECH where the pretty ones when they wanted you told you up front, love making became like breathing, and it happened to be the rare time that I had not a main squeeze and Handke would at least have a bit of a good time to look back upon. That NY period then disabused him of his idea for him and his daughter Amina to live in Manhattan or its suburbs.
Up until SLOW HOMECOMING Handke had written a handful of often ambitious and complex but also typically laconic condensed short books, [FN] and survived a major crisis upon the suicide of his mother and the first wife going disparu to his director Klaus Peymann for about as good and valid cause as wife can have to leave a neglectful layabroad who only writes or wants to talk about writing – epic intention can be said to be perhaps hinted at in the immediately preceding LEFT-HANDED WOMAN – 1976 - or can be found retrospectively latent. 
For WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGE, part IV of his ‘home coming’ cycle, however, Handke was prepared, prepared himself as you can read in the untranslated  into English [its predecessor Weight of the World had done well] Geschichte des Bleistifts / History of the Pencil [FN]. 
At any event, it was nearly ten years before Handke then completed the first epic walking novel and what a book it is! 
THE REPETIION rewalks a post-graduation trip and refigures SORROW BEYOND DREAMS and is certainly one of the most important Handke books for me who happened to read it while under the influence of the slow pounding surf of the Pacific, waves that roll in all the way from storms in the South Pacific and so was in a state of mind that I could respond to the book‘s pace and rhythm. And not only for me: 

Of the invariable ludicrous reviews that the NY Times Book Review has bestowed

on Handke’s major efforts the most idiotic and impertinent was of THE REPETIION where David Price Jones inveighs against the protagonist – an 18-year old - for not lambasting Tito whose image appears during his perambulation through Slovenia and its Carso following the footsteps of a horticulturalist uncle to Ljubljana. The fellow who wrote this and the editor who published this review ought at the very least to have been flogged, if not shot; capital punishment in egregious cases of this kind might just do the trick of preventing the like of this kind of review. Jones is one of the four reviewers of the four major books – others are Siegel, on NO-MAN’S BAY, a Neil Gordon, and one Joshua Cohen [and Adam Kirsch  X in the NY Review] who can regard themselves as fortunate not to have run into me while I was in the Chihuahua and carrying side arms as I rode out and made sure that the overhead vultures accompanying me were well-fed!

Take a look at the Guardian review for compare:

2] One Year in the No-Man’s Bay 1994

walks not something approximate a straight line but CIRCLES - about half a dozen times - while exploring the half dozen sides of an artist, a circling that is prefigured in the preparatory assaying THE ESSAY ON THE DAY THAT WENT WELL which circles Paris ever more rapidly, among other matters it accomplishes. Handke, now well prepared for the marathon, wrote the 250 k opus in one year and by pencil – his congratulatory publisher, the conman Siegfried Unseld, initially finding such an m.s. unacceptable a typist was found to save the day; and Handke has been rewriting and adding in galleys ever since. - Note my report about how good reading this book five times in one year made me feel – testimony to Peter Strasser’s  Handke, ein Freudenstoff  / Handke’s joy-producing Stuff 

not that anyone but the fewest of the few in this godforsaken nerve-dead country seems to have been so affected. I account for this effect on me – who might have reasons not to be so affected by matters Handke – by Handke even intra-uterine having been a mother’s ultra love-child, surrogate for the love of beautiful Maria Sivec’s life, and then just look at the photos of her and baby Peter, how their eyes are in love with each other
  As mama’s boy Handke eventually realizes he received a bit too much of a good thing, but the surfeit has entered what he loves most and then spills over to a good reader like meself – now go falsify that claim of mine!
Siegel’s review in the New York Times needs to be compared with William Gass’s to show why fraud Siegel ought to have been strung up ages ago.

3] Across the Sierra del Gredos [Bildverlust] 2004

memorializes Handke’s travels and walking tours in a particular region – the la Mancha - Spain and uses an impersonation of a BANKIERESS for the same reason that he uses Alexia in FRUIT THIEF: to free himself from his notebook and to be imaginative and playful and suggest alternatives, though the Banker side of Handke is less appealing than that of the almsgiving Stair-dweller Saint! But since those trips to Spain were in the company of ultra-wealthy magazine publisher Burda the ultra-competitive pasha - that too is Handke - may have invented the Bankieress for that purpose and no other; or she incorporates some Burda sides, who knows? – However, Neil Gordon the NY Times reviewer has not been much heard of since I took exception to his travesty - turns out once oldest and dearest friend Frank Conroy, then at the Iowa, told the ass to head East. Frank unfortunately wasn’t around anymore for me to complain!

4] Moravian Night 2011  \

fellow Handke translator and aficionado if not venerator Scott Abbott and I discussed at length and came to loggerheads on an egg or chicken question. Scott felt that book’s subject was “narration”, as the book at one instance claims, I maintain that Handke devised his own “Thousand and One Night Scheherazade” to accommodate a host of auto-biographical matters and does so in a few instances in the most supreme poetic way, and could have gone on forever with the kind of Handke tales that amuse me and Mari Colbin who and I nearly got married because we would never get bored telling each other Handke stories – see her review of Malte Herwig’s Handke biography


which Herwig managed to get an Austrian news service to withdraw with a threat of suing for a huge sum which of course it would have taken a huge sum to defend. No suit against me or darling Mari! the sixth Handke wench I have come to know; and, as Freud mentioned a few times, there is no better way of getting to know a person than to know their sexuality in the bedroom.

Here a description  of the Vexin plateau which Alexia is ascending along the Viosne I find this quite useful because Handke certainly does not provide anything of the kind and Alexia however seems to know precisely how and where she is going  if slowly
This large limestone plateau, overlooking the surrounding regions, is 100 metres high, and is delimited by the Seine to the south, the Oise to the east, the Epte to the west, the Troësne and The Esches to the north. The plateau is cut by valleys with contrasted profiles sometimes long and narrow and dotted with small valleys such as the Viosne and the Sausseron, or developed into real alluvial open country such as the Aubette de Magny. The Vexin Français landscapes are strongly marked by farming where great crops such as wheat, barley and colza dominate. Overlooking the plateau, the woodhillocks of Arthies, Rosne and Marines are silhouetted against the horizon and capped with sand and milestone. The interest of the Vexin Français heritage lies in its natural diversity of habitats, national interest sites, and species of protected plants orwithin the limit of its distribution area.


i am reading it very slowly. a few pages at the time. and making comments quite disconnected as i go along
you are most welcome to add yours if you so like!
or i can create a page of your own for you

depending when i get up = with the birds 5 am or to bed - around 9 - before i start to write or once i am done . and as compared to DIE WIEDERHOLUNG or NIEMANDSBUCH even SIERRA DEL GREDOS i think reading it incrementally is appropriate in this instance.... at once is far too much to assimilate... many paragraphs are veritable lessons in paragraphing and writing! as an overall narrative those who complain that handke sure is taking his time in getting going have a point but it is a boring one since that is not why one / i read handke ... its several books in one . however, what  
writes here "Diese Diskrepanz zwischen epischen Genresignalen und den alltäglichen Erzählinhalten verweist darauf, dass Cervantes’ Don Quijote als intertextueller Bezugspunkt eine mindestens ebenso große Rolle spielt wie Wolfram von Eschenbachs Texte. Die „Obstdiebin“ erscheint so als eine Ritterin der traurigen Gestalt im Frankreich der Gegenwart, die in den Details der Orte, durch die sie wandert, jederzeit ein „längstvergangenes“ Zeitalter wiedererkennen will und sich begeistert auf die „Mühlenbackbrote“ der letzten verbliebenen Mühle im Ort Chars stürzt, um dort den Geschmack vergangener Zeiten aufzunehmen. Im Unterschied zu Cervantes’ Urmodell des modernen Romans ist die Diskrepanz zwischen dem epischen Willen des Protagonisten zum Abenteuer und dem prosaischen Mangel an Gelegenheit dazu bei Handke jedoch nur selten komisch ausgestaltet – am ehesten noch im ersten Drittel des Romans, der selbstironisch die Figur des alternden Erzählers einführt. Die Geschichte der Obstdiebin lädt vielmehr dazu ein, die Protagonistin auf der Suche nach Orten der „Unzeit“ zu begleiten. Benötigt wird dabei freilich eine Leserin respektive ein Leser, die oder der sich auf das Genrespiel des Textes geduldig einlassen und die damit verbundene Verlangsamung des Erzählens aushalten kann."
this does not interest me at all and strikes me as purely academic in the bad sense of that word.

as to connection it is important to become very careful once this alexia actually appears about a fourth of the book in. handke takes possession of cergy-pontoise ... there's a rohmer film buries in the book as well.. again not the sort of thing that interests me... so far none of the geniale grammatical ingenuity that transposes between dream or film and text. x michael r

Ab Seite 228  - als Alexia in dem in Clergy-Pointoise versteckten uebergegeblieben Dorf Courtdimance in ein Haus in dem eine Trauerandacht statfinded – bis 232 schreibt Handke so zart und leise wie ich noch niemals einmal Prosa gelssen habe. Vermeer!


OBSTDIEBIN reminds me that Handke has meanwhile become a Germano-Austrian-Slovenian-FRENCH author! and that his new native land – where he has lived for a quarter century and written two plays in French - will perhaps appreciate how he manages to assiduously take possession of the Vexin plateau and the Picardie and its individual towns such as that agglomeration Cergy-Pointoise. Odd that he feels he needs to construct an upper class bourgeois background for Alexia the fruit thief, if i needed an alter ego i would have just left her as the hippie girls she really seams to be, like Handke the flaneur in girlish garb-----------
 Alexia resembles the LEFT-HANDED WOMAN  - LHW from now on – in doing all kinds of left-handed odd things, like Handke’s favorite walking backwards, if only a few steps, prior to setting out on a hike. In other respects what is odd is to find her in a kind of ‘normal’ family situation, with an amazingly solicitous dad, and for a mom, the Bankieress of SIERRA DEL GREDOS – matters of that kind make me wonder about Handke the genius cogitating and then coming up with something perfectly ordinary.

However, section by section – though the book has a continuous overall narrative – it is broken up into self-contained sections of differing lengths – each of which is entirely perfect in and of itself – I don’t want to say gemlike because the perfection lacks that kind of self-conscious polish. Perfectly executed objective classical prose.

OBSTDIEBIN which was #1 on the SWR bestseller list for a while - this is the equivalnt of the NY Times Book Review list - is now down to # 8. Still amazing for an extremely enjoyable but demanding book.

For those who know Handke’s work ALEXIA, THE FRUIT THIEF/ Filcher will bear resemblance to his “LEFT-HANDED WOMAN”. Like LHW, Alexia is what Object Relations Theory  calls a “part object” – more than just a projection of the self, an either suffering [LHW] or as in Alexia’s instance a ‘happy go  lucky’ wishfulfilment aspect whom I can see Handke’s ability for make believe, his fantasy keeping him company as he visits his house in the Picardie – the happy part of Herr Handke – the unhappy part can be read in DER GROSSE FALL the book preceding FRUIT THIEF and that  SEAGULL PRESS is publishing as THE GREAT FALL

this Spring and a wonderful and very different book it is , but that it too involves walking and trundling in this case from a suburp to Paris

A further instance of Handke taking a part of himself and turning it into a living object, a person transpires in MY YEAR IN THE NO=MAN’S=BAY where he has a restaurateur open a restaurant  in the woods that makes the words most delicious word salad but too few folks come by and he goes broke as he moves deeper into the forest.  What surprised me initially about Hnndke the person that here was someone who had allegedly grown up pisspot poor who insisted on putting up in the best hotels and restaurants..

One mattter that this admirer of Handke's NO-MAN'BAY

noticed at once was that FRUIT THIEF , written a decade or so later, shows a far greater and detailed familiarity with the neighborhood in which he resides. 

Another matter that might be noted at once is that the "fruit thief" Alexis the third time that Handke in his prose impersonates a woman - the first being LEFT-HANDED woman of the mid 1970s, then in more complicated, split fashion, the "Bankieress" of CROSSING THE SIERRA DEL GREDOS, and now Handke has invented a surrogate in order to explore the Picardie, someone else to go on a trip with, who is said to be the Bankieress's daughter -= the least significant signifier, although true enough in the sense that both are Ausgeburten of Handke's imagination which in this fashion frees itself from needing to tie what he observers and speculate ad invents to his own person, or the 'I' of a narrator. Since the "fruit thief' is said to have just returned from Northern Russia makes me wonder whether Handke spent time at its rivers recently ... its the first time that i ran across this mention. Handke is of coure a world traveler but Alaska and Japan are more usual reference point.

More needs to be said I expect about Handke's use of female personae - and I will. Moreover, doing so also hints at the source of his creativity, the male-female polarity, bi-sexual alement.

The fruit thief itself, a certain Alexia is reported to first appear to the narrators as fragments of a phantasm, is reported to be a kind of decade-long occasionally irrupting phantasm, yet gradually materializes and is also connected in novelistic fashion with the Bankieress of SIEERA DEL GREDOS  as her daughter, whom I do not recall at all there. Then in FRUIT-THIEF she is reported to have just returned from Northern Russia, and her name is given in Russian - if these details confuse you as they have me just a tad, rest assured once the narrator starts reporting her actions, these details are of little matter. However, I have a hunch that she is the kind of McGuffin and traveling companion in the imagination that one can make up to keep one company as a child and then develop further as one's imagination falls in love with itself, and she takes on shape and form and detail. She is said to have a father, now an old bloke, who lives in Paris in Montparnasse and the whores are ancient wher he walks - it is an odd detail for our once Don Juan to mention in connection. This man is a most devoted father, as utterly empathetic as I found the author not to be to his first daughter - but haven't we all changed an in some respects for the better. The mother bankieress is supposedly nuts about the Picardie and the daughter sets out to find her - I don't quite see why Mr. Handke to detail an expedition into the Picardie where he and his wife own a second home needs to invent an honest to goodness family saga... not that there isnt some absolutely amazing writing and instructional prose after an initial few pages where the  book went flat for me as the family saga ensues. I am thinking in particular pagews 148-152 that is starts with the mention if Isac 'Babel, too, having been in the Vexin, the plateau which extends into the Picardie.

Alexia makes her first actual appearance on the train to the Picardie, as someone, a kind of bag woman who has stowed herself and her stuff under stairway in what appears to be a twin level train,  like St. Alexius,  which is an old joke, perhaps just Handke’s, that he resuscitates some pages later when her recounts her time in Russia, wasn't Alexius in one of the texts of INNERWORLD that I translated these many decades ago? But at first here is  then said not to be she, but when the train inexplicably is halted for a long while clambers out she turns out to be Alexia  for real, do we have reason to doubt the narrator, is that part of the game that is being played, not really as of page 125 anyhow. No matter the writer's precise description of her as bag lady or the way she walks across the fields she strikes me as a McGuffin, not at all essential to Handke's fascinating writing  - of a train trip for the first time instead of the usual bus. I sense no human connection to her on the part of the writer, no need for her, thus McGuffin 

perhaps this is what Handke means when he says he likes the medieval sagas that have, say, a woman who cuts off both her hands to make herself unattractive to the layabroads,. That is ‘improbable occurrence, magic, surrealism, foreshortening - Handke is such a marvelous writer it makes nearly no difference what he is writing about. Each sentence is a pearl, each paragraph a treasure instruction in how to write. Alexia does not seem to be someone so far with whom the aging writer is about to have an affair and whom he will seduce or who will roll into Don Juan's bed of her own accord. She is a curio for a trip into the country, a divertissement so far.


Starting I would say with the story LONG HOMECOMING through the 80s ACROSS (Chinese des Schmerzens) and AFTERNOON OF A WRITER you can notice Handke introducing and taking command of a painterly quality; what becomes noticeably prominent in FRUIT THIEF ia a graphic delineating quality that strikes me as new, and the sciences in some of these paragraph length sections act like lines in a drawing , I keep being amazed at the challenges that Handke sets for himself and succeed in. Take a look at Handke's drawing in his Notebooks. I have a link to them on one of these sites and will put it in on Saturday.


About a fourth into the book ALEXIA has appeared  materialized and intriguingly so. However, Handke now provides her with a family and family story.  Her mother is said to be the BANKIERESS from Sierra del Gredos and she has a dad who lives in Paris and is too old for the whores in  Pigalle to take an interest in him or he in them… and the writing turns flat before it picks up again with a wonderfully playful advice that her dad gives to Alexia for her tramping ways - this four page speech reminds of Handke the dramatist and how playful he can be when he wants to.  - One question that arises foe me is whether and to what degree this epic subscribes to Handke's statement that he is a "realist" - FRUIT THIEF rather strikes me as a mix of fine grained realism at the beginning and with respect to Alexia's invention as a form of fabulism that sheds no light on this category.  
 Our man is not a writer of family sagas – well since he envisions his epic being a kind of saga perhaps he can dispense with all psychology and state “Alexia lovee both her parents and particulary her youngr brother” without formulating any of the usual differentiation equivocation of feelings that we expect to be mentioned ina relationships. – as an aficionado I can see no good reason for bothering to flesh out her background since her interest is as a companion tramp for our  tramp narroto as he explores the landscape of the Picardie… .. it will be interesting to read H.s rationale for doing so aside possibly , once he decided on an overall saga form that includes a lot of biographical material to then obey the old formal saga laws…

it is not that Alexia does not like mushrooms, but there is an extremely detailed scene in cergy-pontoise - a city agglomeration of recent years -  where she finds just about any green you might want in a salad plus a melon growing wild in this by and large brand new city - that being one of the points that these natural items exert themselves in the smallest of niches ditto for bats that she presumes require some kind of old hole to exist and there are no old holes in this brand new city - thus my comment about champignons which of some kind will grow in any mold and the wind will transport the spores. its a very nice long scene and handle has a good time describing the city along the way. "i want to preserve a piece of blue sky" as it says in UEBER DIE DOERFER. A genuine conservative! 


mo feb 12 18

One of several matters that are very odd about this book is that Handke affixes certain young girl qualities to Alexia – a liking for Eminmen; and her having once been in Detroit like Handke, yet no boyfriend, so far, or so far ex while allegedly having roamed all over the world and being the daughter of very haute parents!

I am not altogether certain that these kinds of discrepancies between an allegel mediaeval type von Eschenbach tale and actual actuality realism can be or are overcome by a narrator who simply asserts “that's the way it is… or “meant to be “ or the great variety of the like formulaic imprecations or the accommodations of stylized monologue into a text that often shows handke the dramatist.  Not that anyone but the strict formalist in me is bothered as I plough on on the search for owls in Cergy-Pointoise



Alexia continues to be a most  peculiar daughter of an upper middle class family as she supposedly is in search of her mother in the Picardie and has  a dream while she gets a good nite’s sleep in a real bed in a house in mourning.

The narrator keeps asserting that she’s “really been around” , a true vagrant by some of the descriptions, she supposedly attended one semester at the new university in Clergy-Pointoise!  She likes Eminem – no mention of girl or boyfriends! – or why she left home to become a vagrant , a vagrant of vagrants who seems to live a vegetable Paleo diet!

– I mean kids still leave home during and after high school or college and wander the world – but they do that within a context of their generation.  Now she has a dream of having a child,  a couple of pages of this and we are told that this dream has been dreamt for generations  if not forever.  Indeed,  it has it is the usual dream of girls in the early years of puberty – in Mexico we have “quinze anos” and lots of Mexican girls get pregnant then without givng  much if any thought tp marriage – thei want a kid that badly – in rural Mexico that is where kids, even adults, instantly put a protective hand in front of their genitals when they are frightened! All very natural!  My point is that any normal teenager -Alexia seems to be in her early twenties – knows what that dreams is = that she wants or misses having a kid.  My point is also that Handke in electing to have his experience of an expedition to the Picardie, and elaborating on his fear that the new will totally extirpate the old – first mention in WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES -
 told via a Personae., a mask, creates some unnecessary problems for himself – doesn’t he ask his own 2nd daughter Laocadie what life is like in her generation? The way he has Alexia’s father give her several pages of advise is a wonderfully funny also persiflage of that  kind of paternalism.  Handke may live to asocially to create any kind of social novel, I recall his saying when he left Salzburg that he could have written a book like Doderer’s STRUDELHOFSTIEGE – no doubt,  he was living within a social context and had sufficient context.  He may also be regarded as a French writer now, and the French certainly will once they get to read him on their Vexin plateau/ Picardie Clergy-Pointoise, and he has written  two plays in French.

On page 249 Handke performs one of his tricks. Alexia as she is finally leaving the house of mourning where she has spent a pleasant nite in a rare civilized bed {since child hood] turns into H A M LETINA! Handke doesn’t only just say so but has her act out insecurely changing her mind, back and forth it goes, unpredictably ….. until I at least was quite ready to strangle the strange beasty! But as compared to Hamlet Hamletian  has no good reason for her ambivalence. She is seized by a neurotic habit – thought I can’t say I noticed anything along that line prior to this moment. But it is how concretely with timing and the like that Handke  using the physicality of language ke goes about  showing us and making us participate in her changes of mind and location is what  strikes and amuses me


feb 21 2018

 Appr. midway now I p 280 - must admit I have gotten hooked on Alexia, this very odd critter devised by Peter Handke, and have done so because of the detailed fashion of her adventures. When she finally manages to get out of the mourning house and ventures into a tiny woods the way she goes about clambering about  in it I am reminded that Handke is a fan of the adventure stories of Karl May from whom you can learn not only about geography but how to scout – and how Handke equips her with his own amplified hearing: she hears a huge animal  crashing through the underbrush – it turns out to be a small rooster – what she seems unaware of is the degree to which this kind of amplified hearing can deceive her!
Then on her circular way out of the nouvelle city she gets caught in the spirals of the new housing developments which strike me to be of the same kind as we find in the U.S.  spirals leading off spirals and ending in cul de sacs with a turn-about  and hedges – I am reminded of Southern California developments – and in despair of the inescapability  of being unable to penetrate these hedges suffers an attack of  catatonia,  powerfully described.  Each of these paragraph-like sections ctd. to be linguistically fascinating and an adventure in itself. 
The only time I become quizzical is when Handke asserts that she is a creature of her time and generation and  the like and at those moments his language starts to suffer in turning platitudinous, e.g.
page  274  the section that starts:  “Nur fand sie damals in die Gesellschaft.... Weltuntergang.“ And the like sound like my bete noir David Brooks the New York Times columnist.  = Someone like Alexia does not think in those terms!


As Alexia the Fruit filcher recovers there is a moment when she discovers that her left throwing arm is as strong as her right one, which reminds me that I had already concluded to think of her as a tomboy – after all, the way she traipses about the world is not very girlish – I can’t recall a single female walker of her kind and met a slew of valiant walkers during my three years in the Baja – one Scots circumnavigator  -  short and sturdy -= had passed around the Cabos starting in Ensenada on the Pacific side just below San Diego and planned to end his expedition when he reached the spot where the Colorado flows into the Sea of  Cortez, not too far after San Felipe .It was not a simple matter of  the thousand  miles to the Cabos and back,  -following the actual circumference with its bays and peninsulas added at least another thousand miles, and the temperatures could be demanding at mid-day.  I recall admiring his boots and his calves!  He showed up la Hacienda in Mulege and I had no reason to doubt his claims. I myself did some walking into the huge back country but quickly got myself a burro, the famous Durango whom I kept with one of the farmers. The last time I did extensive rural walking was when I lived in Billie the Kid country  in the Sacramentos there. But nothing of the extent that Handke may still be doing now in the Picardie. As to Alexias’s sexuality I am waiting how long her expedition will lasts and whether she has her period and what she does when she has to pee! And if anyone makes a serious pass at here – I can’t tell how pretty she, not so far! But Alexia’s bi-handedness is a further pointer in the direction that Handke’s creativity source is bi-sexual. Conflict is the analytic discipline’s suggestion, perhaps fusion?  One of the most extraordinary  phenomena that I associate with my analysis was that I came out of it with my left hand and arms as strong as my right – talking about repression!


 On the top of  page  281 there is a sentence that tries to - in the very least - differentiate Alexia the Fruit Filcher from being like Peter Handke “Wie sie vor nichts recht Angst hatte, so auch nicht vor Hunden.” For those who recall THE LESSON OF ST. VICTOIRE Handke’s first ‘wandering’ book par excellence – 1979 – may recall not only the famous scene where he has his detested critic reich-ranicki shit all over an airstrip in the form of a bull dog, but also at least one instance of his own fear of dogs, which reminded those who needed reminding that Handke’s early work was rife with  terror and fear to the extent that he regarded himself as the successor to Kafka.  Of course there are certain kinds of dogs German dogs in particular that it is idiotic not to be afraid of , the german shepherd the dobermann, the bear dog etc etc
       Alexia’s midsize otherwise undefinedpooch accompanies her for quite a while – until he.she is ordered to finally go home ! - and even gets him or herself covered with the moss that covers everything it appears in the vicinity of the Viosne along which they are walking up river, the “Auen” as these meadows that flood  river-sides are called so beautifully in German and which I well recall from my home village Schoenebeck / pretty brook/.
Never encountered a profusion of moss of that kind – here in Seattle the north-facing roofs of houses never lose their moss and there are moss scraping services!

       It is a lovely sequence those several pages of Alexia and the dog.

 At the top of #2 on p. 297 we have a finc instances where H. joins reading experiencing time, book time and the time of the Alexia story as it is being told, where it  says “Time to get underway.  Who says so? Her story does. But not the real time, the actual time? Oh yes, that time does too!

Alexia is now dogless but acquires a different companion, a male, a pizza delivery boy who shares a piece with her back in Clergy – H. can  be so cute! Not a cowherd as would be more fitting the environment along the meadows of the VIosne., a servant whom she treats as an equal.  This definitely introduce s a note of interest into the proceedings!

Handke had a lot of fun writing Obstdiebin, aside creating a narrative that is a fun to follow like a Karl May or spy  novel – also linguistically, each paragraph a lesson in virtuosity too =
e.g. Pages  284  the way that Alexia tells the dog that has attached itself to her to finally go home.

And  from page 315-319 an amazing tour de force about a certain chech zedenic who committed suidice  

Both instances of Handke the dramatist at work!

Lots of the incidents he invents or observed in Chars!

Alexia spends quite a bit of time in Chars in the Vexin at the headwaters of the Voisne
and so we acquire an impression of it, mine being that it is a fading town which it is not really, it now has 2000 inhabitants, a thousand years ago the headcount was 1000! But it is of course a bit battle scarred for having been part of the WW I and II battle ground and now had heavy truck traffic flowing between Paris and Dieppe on the coast.  It is an incident-rich stay at a Kurdish Kebab joint and Handke invents a former classmate forAlexia who recognize each other through the truck traffic and manage to get together when the traffic is stopped for a train to pass. Once deadly enemies the mere recognition of each other after time has passed and they are fast friends…. I am now around page 350 of 550 pages on the last two hundred of Handke epic pages unless he finds that he has one more in him after all…  FIFTY YEAS OF HANDKE PROSE… 1966 DIE HORNISSEN/ THE HORNETS 2017 FRUIT THIEF … what an amazing life-long tour it has been..

I also want to comment briefly on what strikes me as the oddest of these small to very large paragraph-sized passages. P 278-79 which concerns her wondering  as to the images that run sort of like anta on a hotplate – my metaphor – around inside her noggin. They are said to be helpful at moments where she expelled from time – all odd and unconvincing because I can’t fathom what is at state here.

A REFLECTIVE MOMENT – what if Handke had not moved to Chaville but remained in or near Salzburg – where would the marvelous ALEXIA the INCIDENTAL FRUIT FILCHER be wandering?  Not in the so exotic seeming Vexin Plateau of the Picardie! Once again in the LIME STONE formations of the KARST/Carso where we find Handke wandering in THE REPETITION – the Vexin Plateau seems to be limestone too – thus future statues of our truly great writer ought to be made of this his apparently favorite material? –  Handke well along in age and re-united with his second wife Sophie Semin buy themselves a second house in a part of Austria has not explores – well no, no Paris no Sophie a then model he met there,. Impregnated and then married, who at one point left the “cold salamander” into which he turns at  work, but then returned after each of them may have had all the affairs they needed.  Perhaps Handke and Marie Colbin would have made up – and Marie would have been wife # 2- improbable but no inconceivable as is his  not having fled Salzburg as he did in the late 80 to fulfill his plan of living in Chaville, a suburb he discovered during the days of THE LEFT HANDED WOMAN and living in Clamart/  Meudon with its view of the rolling hills of  Paris./
The two SALZBURG novels – CHINESE DES SCHMERZENS / stupidly named  ACROSS by its incompetent American publisher for a Nazi being tossed down a cliff instead of the so much more enticing CHINESE OF THE WATER TORTURE & THE AFTERNOON OF THE WRITER do not manifest Handke as happy trooper
, \

and so perhaps he would have written his kind of STRUDELHOFSTIEGE about Salzburg if he had staid

But what then of the so wonderful performance of MY YEAR IN THE NO-MAN’S BAY? – well he might have moved to a Salzburg suburb!

After all, as few people know, in the mid-70s Handke was thinking of living in a New York suburb. I took him and Amina in my MGB on an exploratory trip – it made sense that he would live in a suburb with his sensitivities and no doubt the leaf blowers in Nassau or Suffolk would have bothered him as much as they do in Chaville – I don’t think I knew yet about Shelter Island, between Long Island’s North and South Fork

a future rest stop escape of mine or I might have taken him out there to its preserve and true wilderness.  I did take Handke and the photographer of the cover of NONSENSE & HAPPINESS to the Rockaaways where I lived for three years for its good air after my freighter trip half way around the world and back , 1972-75 and where I worked well as editor and translator for Continuum Books and would have continued  to if the publisher had not turned out to be a shit. – During the expedition  to the suburbs I recall Amina as a frighteningly intimidated child and checking out lycées for her – who then would have been raised on French and English and German. – I expect that Handke’s unhappy stay in the Hotel Adams at 86th and Madison and Fifth in the later 70s on his return from Alaska where he wrote the novel part of A SLOW HOME-COMING extirpated any thought of living in New York or this country. “Very hard” was his instant comment on having contemplated the street scene for just a few days  as I recall while I was still I think trying to avert the City’s extreme brutality, well on its way to becoming Kalkota on the Hudson and the situation I found myself with my partners at the firm sinking in.

Thus, no 2nd Paris Period,  no moseying around the Picardie!

Two comments today March 6, 2018./

During Alexia  and Valter’s detour back onto the Vexin plateau away from the river Viosne she
finally manages to spot a lark in the sky …. a mere dot – and this reminded me once again of the numerous times that Handke’s extra special senses have astonished me… eyes of a hawk, nose of your best blood hound, etc .  as I noticed already in 1971 in New York he can tell peoples ages by their looks and the year they were born.

The there comes a very odd episode that I have a hunch is some kind of analogy or duplicate of something that occurs in the medieval tale to which frequent reference is made and of which Alexia’s trip is a modern kind – though this alleged “search for her mother” especially in these environs – she seems to forget this objective near entirely too – strikes me as something that the author might as well have dispensed with. It strikes me as kind of left over from original cogitation about the project.

The episode I have in mind is so odd because it exceeds the realistic constraints that also rule here  there is a placard throughout the Vexin as Alexia and Valter traverse it of a lost cat. Not only at  placards but they keep hearing its owner plaintively meowing.  Once, twice, o.k. but he seems to be on the same complicated route that they take  And then after the twosome descends through some blackberry djungel after a detour
down to the source of the Viosne what should we find but a cat,  moribund,  it can open its maw but is unable to emit a sound and as mere skin and heavy bones nearly devoured by insects can’t move anything else and we hear its owner meowing in the vicinity… all wonderfully and interestingly described but the most improbable of improbabilities  … i.e. a miracle that Alexia picks up the cat and I haven’t got as far as to find out whether the cat revives and is re-united with its owner… but an invention surely, and to what purpose???

Handke in OBSTDIEBIN/ FRUIT THIEF and a variety of reviewers refer to von Eschenbach, the PARCIFAL author’s final and unfinished work WILLEHALM

Here a few links

To a facsimile
and to a modern typescript
but aside both books being epics I can see no immediate connection between  an epic
Its account of conflict between Christian and Muslim cultures, centering on the warrior-saint Willehalm and his wife Gyburc, a convert from Islam, challenges the ideology of the Crusades. It celebrates the heroism, faith, and family solidarity of the Christians, but also displays the suffering of both sides in the war and questions the justification of all killing. Gyburc, whose abandonment of her Muslim family and conversion to Christianity are the immediate cause of the war, bears a double burden of sorrow, and it is from her that springs a vision of humanity transcending religious differences that is truly remarkable for its time. In Gyburc's heathen brother Rennewart and his love for the French king's daughter, Wolfram also develops a richly comic strand in the narrative, with the outcome left tantalizingly open by the work's probably unfinished conclusion. Long overshadowed by his earlier Parzival, Wolfram's Willehalm is increasingly receiving the recognition it deserves. The fifteen essays in this volume present new interpretations of a wide range of aspects of Willehalm. They place the work in its historical and literary context, promote understanding of its leading figures and themes, and highlight Wolfram's supreme qualities as a story-teller."

  and Handke’s intimate yet adventurous journey into the country-side 

Obstdiebin / Fruitfilcher Alexia’s life indeed becomes extremely adventurous once she and her Valter./ not Valter [penetrate into the near impenetrable thorn thicket at the source of the Viosne and I expect that the WILLHALM has equivalent adventures and ordeals but of a very different chivalric kind – and what I like then is  that Alexia’s saving of the moribund cat and other features of her survival under those circumstances do NOT seem in the least allegorical – though I expect someone like Katharina Pektor who has written on the Parsifal theme in Handke’s work  [The Repetition] may do or is already at work pointing out analogies  For me it suffices and I expect it will for most readers that such a MINIATURE is as powerful  as though it  were one of those tales of old.  The writing too is adventurous in the extreme a lot of the time with some amazing tours de force –  e.g p. 385-6  -
that I don’t envy the translator having to duplicate. 

The reason why Brombeeren, like Tobacco leavens , ripen from the bottom up has to do with the fact that both, tobacco even more than berries, depend on the REFLECTION of sunlight , preferably from sandy reflective soil;  that is, in being "cured".   slow-baked,, their form of ripening.
I happened to realize as much upon high-school graduation when my job as  lumberjack in a Canadian forest was cancelled due to forest fire danger and  fortunately , for the sake of my back,it was too early to pick tobacco in Simcoe County, Ontario, just north of Lake Erie which  provides the nightly due that tobacco prefers as nourishment.; and thus enhances the chances of  suffering from neurasthenia and  all kinds of back problem since you have to pick the lowest leavess first while  gummy cold tobacco goo is dripping down on you. - An ordeal avoided unlike Alexia's in the blackberry jungle at the source of the Viosne!

You might tell the wondrous writer who I was amazed to note twith all his environmental specific keeps wondering why blackberries are the ripest when hidden from the sun! as ever, michael r.

One of Handke's uncles studied horticulture in Slovenia and Handke's THE REPETITION recounts his graduation pilgrimage retracing the uncle - his mother's brother - walk Handke himself became an avid gardener once he had achieved the main domicile of his life in Chaville./


Once Alexia and Valter are out of their blackberry ordeal and have saved the moribund cat they ascend the Vexin platea


images of the river Oise

and it is a while before the next stage of the tale, here after suffering grievous drenching during a thunderstorm they are taken in by a befuddled host – HANDKE is having a lot of fun here! For sure with his literary notion and it allows him marvelous description and in these pages here I finally detect the fellow who can make reading his prose like experiencing film but outdoes himself here by writing on the midline between descriptive prose and creating a filmic experience.  Around page 380.



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In “Alexia, Fruit Thief/Filcher”

Alexia is presented as a vagabond – childhood escapee - who has been all over the world – to lots of the same places that Peter Handke has been: Alaska, Detroit, Spain - has Handke actually been to Siberia? She seems to be in her mid-twenties just returned from Russia [not from Serbian rivers!!!] but has haute bourgeois French parents - her motive for going to the Picardie is said to be to look for her mother, the Bankieress from SIERRA DEL GREDOS…
but Alexia is actually yet another of Handke’s surrogate wanderers Sorger, Loser, Kobal,  Keuschnig, the Bankieress… what Kleinians call a “part object” which differs from a projection – Handke’s most delightful “part object” - and a slight one being that restaurateur in NO-MAN’S-BAY who serves the world’s most delicious word-salad but keeps going broke and thus keeps moving his joint ever deeper into the forest – as - judging by the sales figures of his books and how rarely his plays are done in  English - Handke would have to in this country if he wanted to maintain his life style.

Part objects of the amusing kind are rife in the play THEY ARE DYING OUT and signify that Handke stands very much in the tradition of Austrian comic dramatists.

However, Alexia - like Sorger and Loser - is not just a part but surrogate for her creator’s senses, she or he do the seeing for him, and thus free Handke from his notebooks and the autobiographical and allows his fantasy to roam. Thus, Sorger’s profession of geological surveyor or Loser’s as archeologist I think need to be understood as poetic rather than the activities of a professional.

Independent of doing yeo-woman’s service as her creator’s magnificently observant eyes and ears during his exploration of a stretch of the French country side – that is, of being Handke’s surrogate personae – Alexia is odd indeed and anything but your typical twenty-something all-around vagabond as which Handke tries to present her. Alexia is first of all the reincarnation in female form of St.Alexius

but the only thing she shares with him is a proclivity for hiding under stairs - we do not see her begging or sharing alms, though she is frugal. More saintly she becomes in the chaste dream that Handke provides her when she does not hook up with her companion Valter, she may even be on her way to a nunnery and marriage to Christ!

She is into Eminem but apparently not into any French singers, and she does not strike me as any kind of typical twenty-something world explorer as which she might also have been portrayed. She is said to have managed one semester at the University at Pointoise – Peter Handke’s second daughter, chiefly raised by her French haute bourgeois mother Sophie Semin, is about the same age and Handke could have asked her to get an idea of a typical French girl her age – Alexia is not Laocadie Semin/Handke not by the farthest stretch of the imagination, who I am sure has other songs in mind aside Eminem and is unlikely to be part saint in the making. If Alexia is meant to be rendered as a typical upper-class girl that decided to go her own way around the world he could have consulted with this daughter – the few dabs in the direction of establishing a background are not only unnecessary but distractingly insufficient. 
Young adults that age have sex, entirely friendly sex it may be, non-committal pleasurable hook-ups or romantic involvements, and it is as much part of their life as breathing but in that respect Alexia and Valter do not exist as separate characters but as a vehicle for Handke to memorialize a region and as a memory of once projections of chasteness – the passage on p. 414-5 telling of Alexia’s dream of a possible brides-groom strike me as appropriate to a saint in the making -   Like Handke Alexia 9s also into the blues but her association to a lot of the same far-ranging places that Peter Handke has been are rather minimal and don’t add much  - the mere mention of the Bering Sea or Yesenin River etc. etc. fail to add more than a very few specific experiences and thus fail to tantalize in the same manner in which her current expedition does. Her two nights of the expedition are spent, in both instances, in different inns, and I wonder whether Handke ever sleeps during his many country walks under the Hawthorn tree on an August moon, whether at the Bering sea he slept in an igloo – I note his many interestingly described hotel stays, including one in the Kosovo in that piece of reportage Velica Hoca

but wonder how hardy a vagabond he is… while conceding that the likes of Handke and the Norman Mailer of Why Are We in Vietnam, can absorb, say, more wildflowers in the Brooks Range, in a day that would take the in some respects slow me a week to incorporate.

I am caviling a bit here, very minor caviling, but where I praise as highly as I do I feel that I must also wonder a bit why Alexia must have a family and a family get-together at the end – why we must suddenly be novelistic in an old-fashioned sense where Handke once upon a time said he would never be. Alexia vagabond can wander anywhere she likes and does not need the obvious motivation of a not overly exciting family get-together as an excuse. “That is how the tale wants it, the way the tale tells it,” is an author‘s  frequent imprecation who admits at the end that the  dweller of the NO-MAN’S-BAY is writing the book. He could easily have come out and said, “It’s me Peter Handke, I am writing a Peter Handke Book, and using Alexia will be a lot more fun and allows my imagination and playfulness to roam as I can’t doing a notebook or a travel account.” And no one would mind – certainly not this late in the game.
   However, as we read her marvelous adventures up the river Viosne and in the Vexin there is no mention of looking for Mom – has it slipped the author’s mind? The only thing being looked for is that lost cat by it owner – the sound of his looking pervades Alexia’s hike. The night that Alexia stays in the tiny chambre of the Auberge de Dieppe the smell from one of Mom’s shawls wafts about, but the formidable Bankieress has only stuck her head into the tiny room and found it wanting is the sole reminder of the alleged objective of the expedition – the Bankieress is about, a most improbable event that she would be scrambling around the Vexin, that she has gone gaga, but never mind? Now if that moribund cat would transform itself into the mad bankieress that would be the kind of miracles Handke does not write.

At the end of the book there is a family get together – that appears to have been Alexia’s destination but was not mentioned when she set forth; and her teenage brother is working as a carpenter apprentice – no advance mention that he would be in Chaumont - and I think some of these matters, judging by minor loose ends and contradictions and improbabilities were made up as Handke went along?

ALEXIA as THE LEFT-HANDED WOMAN’S younger sister is as odd as her creator who has worked life-long at appearing normal.

A goodly chunk of the SPECIFICS ALEXIA Sections re OBTDIEB/ FRUIT THIEF REV EW are i now online @


I will put on line @

pdfs of zeroxes of the pertinent pages I cite 150, 377, 385, amd especilly of the great sequnce the night that Alexia spends om he Aubge de Dieppe  before and after p. 440 and one from the end.

The manner in which FRUIT THIEF is composed - as self-contained discontinuous paragraphs – or sequences of that kind –  which does not diminish the overall drive of Alexias adventure once it gets underway in Clergy-Pointoise – makes FRUIT THIEF a Minima Moralia kind of book where you can leaf around – and appreciate the different ways in which these various essay-like sections and sequences are composed...In that respect FRUIT THIEF can be regarded as yet one more Handke writing lesson... Had I the time, I could annotate or comment on each of these more or less „minis” - that can be several pages long with their small interim bridges - of this more than by and large marvelous book on which I cavil only in a few instances in the main commentary and here

However, as I am engaged in completing, finally and very belatedly – in some ways glad to be late - for, the overall story - DARLINGS & MONSTERS - set in the 70s & 80, in New York City, in retrospect – with its financial shenanigans, its shifting tectonic real estate plates, its mob pornography production, the disintegration of the New Left, the increasing crudeness of the various Lumpen contingents, its infusion of cocaine, a huge city on the verge of bankruptcy, rife crime  reaching into the artistic precincts, future arbitrageurs future jail birds and money mavens of the like starting to invade our downtown turf - can be regarded precursor, it turns out, for „the current state of affairs,” retrospectively... deregulation and the pleasure of the breakdown of all taboos, a very sexy period...Grosz would have a heyhayday!

For resons of time, therefore, this SPECIFICS section will confine itself to about half a dozen instances of appreciation of the magic that the Weaverbird of Griffen, Voelker-Markt spins in ALEXIA, FRUIT THIEF, but concentrate on the Auberge de Dieppe section around p. 440 – Alexia’s dream and related sections strike me as the most delicate writing I have encountered since I became an admirerer of Eudora Welty.

1] Starting with the single major grumble - to get it out of they way and not to beat a dead horse, anyhoo not too much. The only matter that seriously bugs me is Handke’s way of motivating Alexia’s expedition from Clergy-Pointoise to Chaumont sur Oesne, - about p.150 - the creation of a family, giving her the Bankieress of SIERRA  DEL GREDOS for a mother, pretty much springing a family get together on the reader at the end. These are the book
Alexia is said to be a world traveler, as a kid a runaway who just happens to have been to all the same places its author has been to - but Siberia instead of Serbia and its rivers - and who shares his or some of his other imersonations’ superstitions such as first walking backwards, and a host of other oddities.
ince Alexia is said to have spent one semester at university in Pontoise, as motivation for Handke’s chief objective to memorialize a section of the Picardie and its Vexin Plateau along the river Voisne her wanting to explore a region closer to home would suffice; a brother, too, is not needed - if Handke wants to work in one more shared appreciation for the craft of carpentry and we want to dispense with the brother there sure exists ample opportunity among the  many wonderful episodes that are strung along that 60 k.m. stretch to raise a   carpenter onto a roof... after all, nearly no end of marvelous stuff is fitted into that round the world hike up the Voisne with its Brasserie de Universe and its Kurdish host; and Alexia’s father, too, could still give Alexia that marvelous persiflage of advice - but we don’t need an allegedly nutty Bankieress mother who is as lost as that cat that its owners so improbably searches for the length of the Voisne River. Though allegedly the objective of Alexia’s expedition only a single mention of her then occurrs during it; we don’t need that family background nor a family get together that’s pretty much is pulled out of a hat at the end... it literally comes out of all that blue sky during the ever-prevailing high summer August days – fabulous ending though it is, a reprieve to the Nth power of the ending {and I don’t mean Nova’s dramatic poem} of WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES.
Handke does a barely better than workmanlike job in establishing this family business around P. 150 -  not the usual A+  -  AND of the sort of thing he once said he would never do – though, judging by the reviews, giving those folk a simple handle is the way to go. They all write „search for mom”! 
What strikes me as essential though is that this pizza deliverer hitches on to Alexia along the way – who gets his own several pages then – if only for the sake of  Alexia’s dream fantasy – of agape intimacy – that reminds me of what some  of us were like before we really bit into the apple and chewed! There is another take on the dream:that it can also be read as the description of the state  love making reaches when both parties become disembodied and male and female no longer matter Handke certainly knows that stage after all the lovers he has had.
Let’s not forget what made LEFT-HANDED so successful – and Alexia is her younger sister - namely, that Handke did not provide an explanation, ascribe a single motive to her decision to leave her husband – also lets not forget Handke’s notebook comment that while writing LEFTHANDED he was attending lots of porno films in Paris – to indicate a conflict between impulses of a roue and monastery kind! Any half-witted reader - but Anatole Broyard in the New York Times - could fill in the explanation lacuna with a dozen over-determined reasons, as there are for events of that kind; but for the Modern Love secion, the NY Times again, which feels it needs to provide complete explanations so that its readers are not bereft but assured that the world makes sense??? – Alexia having her chaste dream.
 ALEXIA, FRUIT THIEF as much as LEFT-HANDED WOMAN could have been a psychological novel, not Handke’s strength or interest, as FRUIT THIEF once again confirms except that the dream sequence shows something that no psychologizing can, I don’t think  - And what does Handke know about French haute bourgeois? – Well, his wife Sophie Semin is of that class, and it made Handke, at least initially, so I was told, quite uneasy to be affianced to wealth. 
Alexia - if the dream Handke invents for her during her night at the Auberge de Dieppe is the most substantive matter we get to know about her – might strike you as having been raised at a Catholic boarding school who yet might enter a nunnery! – it strikes me as on that cusp - 
the kind of Catholicism which jibes with an ending that advertizes marriage as a sacrament. Fortunately - but for the section when Alexia’s family background is sketched – family matters scarcely crop up during her expedition into the Picardie, the few mentions of a call to her brother and the like are more like pro-forma fluff to keep that part of the superfice architecture barely afloat for those to whom that part matters,
 and do not drive the narrative nor divert from the spectacular evocation of the seenery.

2] page 390 about  FRUIT THIEF also features Valter, the pizza deliverer waif who attaches himself to Alexia as entirely unencumbered by family but for his dreams of having parents and whom the author – and barely in time - gives his due in telling us who he is – a wonderful sequence of the kind i mention above.  

3]  One of the if not the most marvelous sequences commences when Alexia and - I nearly said „surrogate dog” - Valter spend a night in the Auberge de Dieppe in the middle of the Vexin.  P.  440 thereabout. In its entirety the sequence reads like an Eric Rohmer film – and I don’t mean only Alexia’s time spent in that petit chambre under the stairs or that amazing dream of hers [see above], which tells us who she substantially is – I mean the entire sequence until the hold-out Auberge-keep, for ages  he hasn’t had a single guest– shades of the restarateur of  NO-MAN’S BAY who makes the world’s best word salad as he keeps going broke and retreats further and further into the woods – does all he can to delay their departure – it is breath-taking the timing  of this sequence, magical, it is so touching to empathize with this man - and Handke’s amazing artfulness is equal to the so amazingly perfectly paced opening of MORAVIAN NIGHT – the kind of artfulness of Handke’s that no one hereabouts seems to notice or they take it for granted in this artless country a musical ability goes back as far as the pacing of his first play without word – but not without sounds - MY FOOT MY TUTOR.

4]  The astonishing sequence when Alexia is caught in the blackbery brambles and comes upon the cat whose owner’s voice she has been hearing all along the Voisne –    Now if the cat would turn out to be the Bankieress which allegedly Alexia is searchig for – but no, it is a morbund cat and her owner has most improbably been looking for her for miles and miles. The physicality of the description here will stick bramble-like in the reader’s mind .

5] The manner in which Alexia addresses that dog who has decided to follow her and tell him to get lost is one of many dramaturgical instances in the book – and a most amusing one. And you can just lift it out of the book and put it the stage all by itself.

6]  The „psychophysicist” in me objects to one particular little superficial essay where Handke describes what is ordinarily called the „associative” fabric of the brain. Handke’s no-knothing relationship to modern science shows – not to worry Peter no one will be able to predict what goes on in the bilions of associative pathways no matter that major features of oor brains and what they accomplish are pretty well known.

7 ] The end sequence which is a reprieve to the nth power of the end of WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES – „wallow in your despair,” „dont’ extirpate your beastliness,” „be even more hopeless”...

I usually don’t comment on a Handke work until I have read it several times. In this instance that is the case only in the specifics I cite here, but rereading this marvelous invivogarating book in its entirely I expect will generate further comments.

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MICHAEL ROLOFF exMember 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


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