Sunday, August 7, 2011


THE DISCUSSION OF immer noch sturm/ still storm WILL START


IMMER NOCH STURM/ FOREVER STORM is both a  play and a novel in five acts, with one set, and 7 major characters. It is Handke's 10th major play*. The author, first, creates a fictional "I", the puppet master creates a puppet that, to put it simply, half resembles the actual author, Peter Handke, through the ages of his timeless life on an even more timeless heath - the place, forever the place, perhaps the main character, the last dramas the dramas of places, the stage. Thereupon, the puppet master author has the "I's" significant, his imagoes, appear, externalized out of his memory as it were, and his relationship to them, his ancestors. 

The problems, artistically, are representational: how to honestly reduce these imagoes, make them speak, on stage - just imagine the endless associations you have to the persons you were closest to in your youth. How to get the essentials down.

In VOYAGE BY DUGOUT [1994] the presenters are two film directors. In TRACES OF THE LOST [2005] the "author" enters proceedings very similar to the fabulating THE HOUR WE KNEW NOTHING OF EACH OTHER [1991]. The "place" has been the main character, perhaps since Handke's first major play, PUBLIC INSULT; certainly since THE HOUR WE KNEW NOTHING OF EACH OTHER. The, or "an" author becoming part of the proceedings is a very honest way of doing so - unless he pulls some serious punches, as I think Handke does here in once instance.

STURM is an ancestor play. Handke's attachment to these ancestors, his mother, his uncle Gregor Sivec, and his grandparents, is grounded in him  early on and in a place, Carinthia. The book his uncle Gregor wrote as an apple horticulturalist has been significant to him since his earliest days as a reader, and the letters that the two brothers, Gregor and Hans, wrote from the front as WW II as conscripted soldiers in the German Army, are a family heirloom. Yet STORM links up most directly to certain sections of Handke's WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES that also treat of the appearance of ancestors out of their graves into his conscious life, as more real than the living. STURM  also harks back to Handke's first novel DIE HORNISSEN, Los Hormigas, it is also in French and Italian, and I suspect in a few other languages  [THE HORNETS, bombers of WW II vintage] where a missing uncle features, and of course the bucolic surround.

Wanting just to celebrate his Carinthian Slovenian folk, Handke might have rewritten Thornton Wilder's OUR TOWN with emphasis on the Slovenian minority if that is merely what he wanted to do - the actual Peter Handke is, ethnically, half Slovenian and half German, had four years of a Catholic Seminary education, prior to entering a regular Gymnasium and then dropped out of Graz law school on completion of his first novel, in 1964; only his passport is Austrian, as he was born in Austria, in December 1942; his mother ethnically a minority Slovene, his father a German soldier stationed in Carinthia, his name giving stepfather, his actual father's companion from the same German outfit. Since about the time that Handke became famous at age 24, in 1966, he has not lived in Austria, except from 1979 to 1986 for his first daughter, who had been going to school in Paris, to acquire an Austrian high school education [1979-86], in Salzburg. He first lived in Germany until moving to Paris from 1972 to 1979 and again outside Paris since 1989, one year was spent traveling all around the world. GESTERN UNTERWEGS [Jung & Jung, 1999, Handke's Austrian publisher, as compared to his main German, Suhrkamp Verlag, gives a wonderful account of that year in diary form.]. Handke's relationship to Austria is, to put it mildly, equivocal. With his 1987 narrative THE REPETITION, the re-writing of SORROW BEYOND DREAMS [1972], his account of the thwarted happiness of his mother's life, Handke starts to assume a Carinthian Slovenian identity by means of installing both his uncle Gregor and his grandfather, the "Ote", as the missing father figures, he makes a Slovenian/German dictionary of his own, since, till then, he had only tenuous knowledge of Slovenian. Handke is a kind of half illegitimate child of a German soldier stationed in Griffen in 1942, [he makes a lot of fun of his being a "wunderkind" bastard child in STORM] a Herr Schoeneherr, who however would not marry Maria Sivec since he already had a wife and children in Germany. His mother Maria Sivec, subsequently, so as to have a husband, and - so I assume -  acquire legitimacy for herself and the child, certainly not out of the same kind of love she felt for the  actual father or her love child, married Herr Schoeneherr's fellow soldier, the name-giving Bruno Handke, who also had the hots for her, a chap from Berlin. While both father and stepfather survived the war, Bruno being wounded around 1944 and then working on the Berlin tramways, two of the Sivec sons, Gregor and Hans, did not. Only the third Sivec son, Jure, did, and turned Austrian nationalist! Handke met his actual father about the time of his graduation from Gymnasium, his Matura, at age 22, that is a beehive of a novel, and not what Handke wrote here.

All the characters in FOREVER STURM have major qualites of Handke's foisted on them -  Gregor is given Handke's mono-maniacalness, first as a horticultuaralist, later, as PARTISAN fighter, of being a fighter in chief; of  Gregor's two younger brothers Valentin  is given Handke's once   Don Juan who merely has to lie back and the hussies climb into his lair; Benjamin is outfitted with Handke's extreme nausea at so much that is nauseating in this world; the "I's" mother turns from country girl sassy city wise, but is outfitted with Maria Sivec's unthwartable optimistic side; not her depression. The grandfather is the same obstinate old cuss as which I have come to know him via Handke many notes and comments;  the grandmother is the peacemaker: but there is also an older sister, a complete invention for the sake of the drama, who is a misfit - as Handke has felt to be from early on, Ursula, who however, finds her calling as a Partisan,  and  there receives a new name Senececa, Snowchick, a worthy companion to the Bear Skin Woman of VOYAGE BY DUG OUT. They are all Carinthian Slovenes, a badly treated minority before, during and again shortly after WW II. Handke did not just want to celebrate his Slovenian/ Slavic identity, but also the heroism of the Carinthian Slovenes who became PARTISANS towards the end of the short lived Third Reich. In that the play diverges radically from the biography of his own family, none of whom were PARTISANEN, and on closer inspection  look to be on the way to assimilation. A lot of history enters the play/ novel, and it is odd for certain aspects, such as the 1938ANSCHLUSS and Austria's claim to have been a victim of Nazism, to go unmentioned in those sections where the "I" narrator fantasizer speaks what are alleged to be historically incontrovertible data.

Although a lot of Handke's self and autobiography can be said to have entered STORM, it would be inadvisable to address Handke's biography with an invention such as STORM as your starting point! Handke is also having a lot of fun, our worthy successor to Nestroy and Raimund and Grillparzer with some strong shots of Shakespeare, Goethe and Euripides in him. Handke regards himself and so do I in the succession of that great company. And Freud, who could not imagine Shakespeare as being a commoner genius with a good education, might have second thoughts when regarding the career of our once piss pot poor Peter Handke, who did not become one of the "cheese wheels" that keep on trundling downhill [WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES.]

EINEN JUX WILL ER SICH MACHEN - perhaps the biggest kick Handke got out of the proceedings at the play's premiere in Salzburg this past August was to have a bunch of Slovenian hillbillies speaking the most marvelous High German before that well heeled festival crowd!

STORM is also a play that can be read as a novel. Knowing that the chances of frequent performances of his text is unlikely, Handke has been writing what are called Lese Dramen as of WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES. With STORM he has perfected the meshing of direction with action and speechifying. It takes a bit of effort read and imagine plays and screenplays, here it is made as easy as can be.

The question that might face a poet, in blunt terms, a poet who - although he now also writes in French [La Cuisine, TILL THE DAY DO US PART was written first in French,
Jusqu'la que le jour vous separe ou Une question de lumiere] and also writes in Slovene judging by a fair amount of in Slovene in STURM [Slovene first started cropping up in WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES in 1981] - is: I want so show how intimate how close I am, how someone, and I can be to my ancestors, how they possess me, I want to find a poetic equivalent to what has preoccupied me off and on for decades, I want to exhibit that and write a delight that will make others think about their ancestors. I am going to turn my insides out, exhibit my self, and what a very big self I have! On stage this requires a tremendous simplifying down, sharp distinct strokes, allocating of major qualities of mine that I share with my ancestors; qualities that I understand in some fashion, or at least as well as a Singer Sowing machine does - to get that wonderfully silly joke you will have to read the play!

Let me briefly indicate a dyadic intimacy that is the diametric opposite of what Handke achieves in STURM, a kind of intimacy which might be at most hinted on stage, the dyadic intimacy between analyst and patient, or even closer: between two analysts who are married, who understand each others
dreams as soon as one of them uttered one or two words in their recounting, something much closer than merger.

 I once wrote up an example of that kind of experience as TRAPPING THE TRAPPER. and I see why Freud tended to believe in ESP with the kind of experiences you have with analysands over the years. How do you put the relationships that exists inside you, in your psyche, to those imagoes to the people you are closest to because they exist inside you, on to a stage? Our inner-of-the-outerworld-innerworld presenter exhibitor keeps finding ever new and creative ways of doing so.
    How can you even create a sense of such intimacy on stage without
resorting to the kind of cliches that are not cliches when spoken between two people who know each other intimately?
    Handke also wants to do something for "his" people, the Carinthian
Slovenians, and he doesn't want to write an editorial, or get on a soap
box, he is convinced that an artistic communication, an aesthetically
pleasing and gripping engaging, thoroughly composed work of art, will be superior, and he has all the reason in the world to believe that he has the artistic means to do so. And a by and large well woven well planned work it turns into. Had I the time, I would diagram how the threads are woven on very strong five act carpet backing with each act having some major movement shifts itself. You can follow the craft. It is that of a major composer, how the threads are woven, how he exhilirates in verbal acrobatics. Some of the matters that trouble me, to which I have reservations are listed in the to and fro of my and Scott Abbott's, fellow Handke translator's comments, in a nutshell: Handke writes out, whites out the fact that his mother married a German soldier. That man Bruno Handke, turned out to be fairly monstrous, eventually. As an autobiographic detail it is not necessary, but dramatically, within the tensions of the play, between the imagoes on stage, this becomes a gaping hole by ACT IV.




Kärnten im Süden Österreichs an der Grenze zu Slowenien: hier trifft der Ich Erzähler, dessen Nähe zu Peter Handke nicht zu übersehen ist, zwischen 1936 und 1942 seine Familie, die Großeltern, seine Mutter und deren Geschwister, die allesamt nun jünger sind als der 1942 geborene Autor.

Es verweben sich die Geschichten: die der Familie mit der politischen, der Annexion Österreichs 1938 durch das dritte Reich folgt die einzige Partisanenbewegung gegen die Nationalsozialisten durch die slowenische Minderheit in Kärnten. Es verweben sich aber auch die Genres: Prosa und Drama verschwistern sich zu einem sprachmächtigen Text, den die größte Kunst des Schreibens auszeichnet, die Einfachheit.

¨Immer noch Sturm¨, dieser Satz zitiert Shakespeares König Lear auf der Heide, hier das Jaunfeld mit seinen Apfelbäumen, von deren Ernte die Vorfahren des Autors unter anderem lebten. Die Erinnerungen des Erzählers durchmischen sich mit Geträumtem, mit Vorstellungen und beschwören kraft der Poesie des Textes Gestalten hervor, die wirklich unwirklich die Szene bevölkern.

Und die politische Geschichte dieser europäischen Region, das zeigt der Blick zurück auf die letzten Jahrhunderte, hat ihre Konflikte nicht zuende gebracht.

Marco Storman inszeniert Familienstück von Peter Handke

Neue Premiere: Und immer winken die Vorfahren

Die Vorfahren sind wieder da: (von links) Anke Stedingk (Ursula), Christina Weiser (Großmutter), Moritz Löwe (Benjamin), Alexander Weise (Gregor), auf der Treppe: Anna Böger (Mutter), Christian Ehrich (Valentin). Vorn: Peter Elter als ICH. Fotos: Klinger
Die Vorfahren sind wieder da: (von links) Anke Stedingk (Ursula), Christina Weiser (Großmutter), Moritz Löwe (Benjamin), Alexander Weise (Gregor), auf der Treppe: Anna Böger (Mutter), Christian Ehrich (Valentin). Vorn: Peter Elter als ICH.

Kassel. Am Kasseler Schauspielhaus inszeniert Marco Storman Peter Handkes Familienstück „Immer noch Sturm".
Noch bevor Peter Elter als groß geschriebenes „ICH“ ans Mikrofon tritt, winkt einer seiner Vorfahren ins Publikum: Benjamin, der jüngste Bruder seiner Mutter, gespielt von Moritz Löwe. Er wird als Erster umkommen im verheerenden Weltkrieg. Ganz am Ende von Peter Handkes Stück „Immer noch Sturm“, das am Samstag im nicht ganz ausverkauften Kasseler Schauspielhaus Premiere hatte, werden sie alle winken, die Vorfahren des ICH, hinter dem sich der Autor Handke verbirgt.
Marco Sˇtorman hat das Stück inszeniert, in dem Peter Handke nah an seiner eigenen Familiengeschichte Gestalten der Vergangenheit wieder lebendig werden lässt: die Großeltern, die Mutter, ihre drei Brüder und die finstere Schwester. Sie gehören der slowenischen Minderheit in Kärnten an, die als Obstbauern im Jauntal zu Füßen der Saualp leben.
Dem Ich-Erzähler, der ins Publikum spricht, erscheinen sie als Produkte seiner Fantasie, die ihren Tätigkeiten nachgehen, Apfelsaft herstellen, und die oft wiederholten Familiengeschichten erzählen, die sie zum Lachen bringen, auch wenn sie traurig sind, einfach weil sie Identität stiften.
Mit einer Mischung aus Verwunderung und Belustigung sieht Peter Elter dem Treiben zu, in das er aber zunehmend selbst hineingezogen wird. Nämlich dann, als das Jahr 1936 vorbei ist – in der Familienerinnerung „unser glücklichstes Jahr“ – und die Schrecken des Weltkriegs auch diesen entfernten Winkel, inzwischen ein Teil des großdeutschen Reichs, erfassen. Zuerst wird die Identität, die slowenische Muttersprache, ausgetilgt, dann sterben nach und nach zwei Söhne, die Schwester ist längst bei den Partisanen. Und die Mutter wird angespuckt, weil ihr Kind – das ICH – in ihrem Bauch von einem „Reichsdeutschen“ ist.
Das ICH wird Teil des Spiels, angefeindet, gefesselt, dann hinaufgetrieben auf die Saualp, die aus Kisten

Auch die Mutter wird Indianerin: Szene mit Anna Böger.+
Auch die Mutter wird Indianerin: Szene mit Anna Böger.
slowenischen Apfelsafts besteht (Bühne: Frauke Löffel). Die Identitäten geraten ins Rutschen: Sind die Verwandten bloße Ausgeburten des ICH, wie die Masken mit den Zügen Elters suggerieren, die sie sich aufziehen? Oder führen sie ein Eigenleben, weil sie nicht das tun, was der ICH-Erzähler ins Publikum spricht?  Und was wollen sie von diesem ICH? Die Erzählerfigur weiß es nicht, spürt in sich lediglich ein vages „Ich soll ...“. Die Familie mit der strengen Großmutter (Christina Weiser), dem harmoniesüchtigen, geschwätzigen Großvater (Jürgen Wink), dem Obstbauern Gregor (Alexander Weise), dem weltläufigen „Weiberer“ Valentin (Christian Ehrich), dem naiven Benjamin (Moritz Löwe), der nur am Anfang fröhlichen Mutter (Anna Böger) und der ungeliebten Schwester Ursula (Anke Stedingk) löst sich im Laufe der dreistündigen Theatererzählung auf. Immer mehr nehmen die Vorfahren Züge von Indianern an (Kostüme: Anne Rudolph), ehe sie am Ende im Gruppenbild mit Federschmuck ins Publikum winken.  Es ist eine Illustration von Handkes Schlusspointe, womit ICH die Vorfahren verabschiedet: Dass in Alaska Indianer vom Stamm der Athabasken als letzte versprengte Ureinwohner sich von Zeit zu Zeit erheben und einander zuwinken: Wir sind noch da. Ein leichtes, poetisches Schlussbild dieses faszinierenden, aber auch fordernden Stücks. Denn auch in einer Zeit des extremen Individualismus und der Ich-Optimierung winken uns die Vorfahren aus der Vergangenheit von Zeit zu Zeit zu: Wir sind noch da. Starker Beifall.  


Background material, and it is useful, can be found at:


Reviews of the book and of the premiere of Gottcheff's stage version at the Salzburg Festival have been collected at:
and there are quite a few useful ones among them

e.g. Lothar Struck and Gerhard Stadelmair
Hear! Hear! In the F.A.Z who writes:


"Ein schöner, berührender, in jeder Zeile glaubhafter, weil herzblutbeglaubigter Text."

[A] A DESCRIPTION OF THE PLAY, its five acts.

The Chief Discussants are Scott Abbott, the
translator of Handke's JUSTICE FOR SERBIA, the play VOYAGE BY DUGOUT: THE PLAY ABOUT THE FILM ABOUT THE WAR, and of ONCE MORE FOR THUCYDIDES, a professor at Utah Valley University, Ph.D. Princeton
and Sagebrush Universities!
Michael Roloff
translator of Handke's early plays up onto and including WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES has written extensively about Handke's dramas.

It would be wonderful that, e.g. some of Michael'a 1000 Austrian Facebook Friends who
have read or seen the play or know Handke's work commented.

Remember that Scott is on Rocky Mountain Daylight Time,
Michael Roloff @ Pacific Daylight Time
and that the publication of comments can therefore be delayed.
Scroll down to the bottom of



FOREVER STORM is a text of appr. 160 pages @ 300 words per page which is
divided into five parts. It is a play with eight characters and its language is as evocative as Shakespeare's in bringing to life worlds.

 "I" the narrator, dreamer, puppeteer
director of the proceedings who is the grandchild of the
grandparents and bastard son of their daughter Maria.
"Eine Heide, eine Steppe, eine Heidesteppe, oder wo. Jetzt, im Mittelalter, oder wann",

[2 + 3]
 His Grandparents, a cussed grand dad,
and a peace maker grandmother.

Gregor/ Jonatan
, who is described as being
a myops, "one eyed", which as behavior he only
exhibits once he becomes a Partisan towards the end; he
is the oldest of the parents five children. A horticulturalist
who acquires the name of his favorite apple, Jonatan,
as nom de guerre as a Slovenian Partisan fighter.

 Valentin their second son, a Valentine for every
girl in the neighborhood, keeps all beds but his own warm. He is killed on the front during WW II.

Maria, the narrator's mother, who for large stretches
is described as being in Germany, looking to hook back up
with the narrator's father. She reappears wonderfully in Part V
and sets the narrator straight by confronting
him with his childhood selves. Maria appears imbued with
joi de vivre, as she was as a young woman, what
German made her lose the joi is not addressed in the play.
That kind of horror is/ was not typical.

Ursula, the  "dark sister", who does not fit in until she becomes
Senezeca/ The Snow Woman Partisan fighter. She is killed
by her German captors.

"Vielleicht stimmt er ja doch, der Spruch aus der Gegend: Einen Platz findet nur, wer ihn selber mitbringt? Habe ich vielleicht nie das, wie soll ich sagen, Platzhaben verkörpert? Nicht ihr habt mir also keinen Platz gelassen, sondern ich bin schon platzlos geboren, und demgemäß auf Krieg aus, auf Welt- wie Familienkrieg? Erbarmen, Mutter. Hast du mir nicht erzählt, dass in unserer Sprache hier "Mutterleib" und "Erbarmen" dieselbe Wurzel haben?"

 Benjamin, the youngest son, who is also killed
on the front is one big bundle of nausea which bundle seizes the
narrator in Part V.

If you have become aware that as of Handke's WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES in the early 80s he has been writing what are called LESE DRAMEN in German - plays that are meant as much to be read as performed - e.g. THE ART OF ASKING, PREPARATIONS FOR IMMORTALITY - you will note that Handke has   now integrated the stage directions into the text, easily done with an "I" as director narrator, dreamer. You can trust that narrator, he will not let you down. He himself is verbally as gifted as Shakespeare and he makes his dramatis personae equally articulate, immediately in

PART ONE [P. 7-41]

in evoking, recounting one spectacular year in the 1930s. We receive a marvelously powerfully evocation of a very rural basic, some would say archaic, bucolic existence, which, however, is drawn in such chiaroscuro that only the willful will mistake this existence for an idyll [except perhaps in the sense of "we were all together" of WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES], fractious, ample destitution of every kind. There is a long text excerpt at the background site:

The convention of having an "I" as narrator, dreamer presenter
is an outgrowth, in Handke's instance, of having twin narrators, the two directors in the film play VOYAGE BY DUGOUT present their discussion of the play in the form of sections of a screenplay. In Handke's TRACES OF THE LOST, a single narrator becomes part of the action. It is both a playful and honest way of proceeding, I/we find.

Poetically, as a dramatic poem, but formally, too, STILL STORM bears a relationship to certain VILLAGES features, especially to the there re-introduced - from Greek drama and Goethe -  "alternating discourse" which, meanwhile, is no longer simply manifest in, be it, long or brief speeches set off against each other, but integrated into the text, ingeniously modulated the manner in which the speeches are handed off. In very brief exchanges between the "I" and his uncle Gregor in Part V, which verbal back and forth itself is very reminiscent, also in its joyously grim tone, of the end of VILLAGES. In Part V we have a brief reprieve, just a few sentences, of the to and fro at the end of Villages, leading, here, into the derisive POLKA. Also, there is a reprieve, in Part IV, at its dreamiest, of a section of fabled beings from THE HOUR WE KNEW NOTHING OF EACH OTHER. A very effective highpoint indeed!

Handke creates "types" here as he has as far back as the 1973 THEY ARE DYING OUT, if not earlier, and also very much in WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES. These "types" are outfitted with striking qualities, "one-eyed" [single-minded, a quality that Handke's ex-lover Marie Colbin once ascribed to Handke himself] Gregor; another of the mother's brother's, Benjamin is said to wretch with nausea  - again an ineluctable  quality of which Handke himself may still be possessed. Valentin is what we call a conejo in Mexican, and as both Handke and one of his translators were before le neige d'antan set their hair in that direction, although like "Ote" Sivec [Handke's Slovenian grandfather] we will reach under a skirt even at the moment we croak. Typecasting in this manner makes for great distinctness on stage, or on the stage which is the page; broad, sharp, dramatic strokes. Subtlety there is in other matters.

The READER, even half awake, will realize that we are in an ancestor play... and if the READER is familiar with Handke's work, as both Scott and I are, the READER will realize that FOREVER STORM arises as it were out of one sentence in WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES where its chief narrator, the prodigal returning poet, once again called GREGOR, states: "My dead I talk to you... you are with me" [and that Handke as a now self-confessed "Psycho-Physiker" is very much a Kleinian, Object Relationist, internalized significant objects, ah science and its language!] and that STORM  relates, within Handke's work, most immediately to WALK  ABOUT THE VILLAGES, also to those sections that treat of contentiousness, there, between Gregor's siblings and relatives.

Part I

Sets the mise en scene: a heath field with a bench and an apple tree with 99 apples on it [as the play proceeds the bench sinking into the ground, a detail, more subtle than the forever more receding horizon in THE ART OF ASKING]. On it sits the narrator "I" and the wind of memory is upon him as he starts to fantasize his ancestors as they walk into his mind. "It's not that I won't let them rest, they will not let me rest. You don't leave me in peace." During the course of the dramatic narrative the wind wafts across the stage, from behind from the side from inside him, it becomes stormy, at one point there is even a FALL WIND! [ catabatic wind,air current, current of air, wind - air moving (sometimes with considerable force) from an area of high pressure to an area of low pressure; "trees bent under the fierce winds"] There appears his family: two grandparents and their five children; that is, his over-optimistic mother [Handke emphasizes that feature of his mother when she was a young woman] and her dark sister, who is the opposite [but does not exist within Handke's actual family constellation, is an invention for the sake of the drama], and three brothers: Gregor whose chief feature is being "one-eyed" [single-minded, a horticulturalist who is crazed about apples as his brother Valentin is about women and the kid brother Benjamin whom Handke has outfitted with his own once [?] proneness to be nauseated by no end of ugly matters in this world.

This extremely rural family, set in the Slovenian section of the Austrian province Carinthia, and an ancient province it is indeed where numerous languages have been spoken back at least to Illyrian days, stands in for all such rural families around the world, in its rurality - which is scarcely idyllicized in its rough-hewn ways. The village described in VILLAGES resembles the village here but that the past is really brought to life in the DIRECTOR/I's  staging of the what has been, in the liveliest earthiest and most playful linguistically spectacular manner in Part One. Oh what fun the author has in using language to bring that world to life. A Shakespearean talent as I have known for about 30 years now. 

1. Akt „Eine Heide, eine Steppe, eine Heidesteppe, oder wo. Jetzt, im Mittelalter, oder wann. Was ist da zu sehen? Eine Sitzbank, eine eher zeitlose, im Mittelgrund, und daneben oder dahinter oder sonst wo ein Apfelbaum, behängt mit etwa 99 Äpfeln.“ So beginnt das Stück. „Ich“ wird von seinen Vorfahren heimgesucht, ein Fremdling im „Interkontinentalanzug“ unter feiertäglich Gewandeten. Valentin erklärt, wie er es zu etwas brachte: Weil er sich „von unserer Haus- und Sippensprache, der vermaledeiten, losgesagt“ hat. „Wer rein deutsch sprach, versprach, ein Herr zu sein“, heißt es. 1936, sechs Jahre vor Handkes Geburt
Gregor, der Älteste, hat in Maribor Landwirtschaft studiert, ist als stolzer Slowene ins Land der Peiniger zurückgekehrt und führt als Begründer einer Obstzucht die Familie aus der Paria-Existenz. Die Gestalt des Onkels ist präzise bis in die Details gezeichnet. Wieder und wieder findet sich der Name Gregor in Handkes Werk, ein weiteres Mal noch in der idealen Existenz des Widerstandskämpfers. Die Gestalten tanzen ab, nur die Mutter kommt noch einmal zurück: „Weißt du denn nicht, dass wir bei dir bleiben bis ans Ende deiner Tage, und vielleicht noch darüber hinaus, du Erztrottel?“
2. Akt, 1939
Alle drei Söhne sind im Krieg. Die Mutter ist „auf dem Sprung zum Feindwerden“. Drei Jahre später sieht man Ursula, die ältere Schwester, „im Aufzug fast einer Schweinemagd“, über „die wie weltstädtisch Gekleidete“ her-fallen. „Das dafür, daß du dir einen von einem Anderweitigen gehst. Während ich im Stroh hinter dem Ziegenstall übernachte, kugelst du mit dem reichsdeutschen Ziegenbock durchs Doppelbett des Hotels ,Tigerwirt‘.“ Die Mutter knöpft den Mantel auf. Sie ist schwanger von einem deutschen Soldaten. Für das „Ich“ beginnt der Film des Lebens zu laufen. Benjamin, der Jüngste, fällt. Der Großvater verflucht Deutschland. „Und verflucht sei der deutsche Liebeswurm in deinem Liebesbauch. Verflucht sei die Frucht deines Leibes. Der Herr hat’s gegeben, der Herr hat’s genommen, verflucht sei der Name des Herrn in Ewigkeit.“ Ursula schließt sich den Partisanen an.

I looked very carefully over ACT ONE once more and find it one of the most beautiful sequences Handke has written for the theater. In the theater he has a social sense, otherwise so lacking
in these prose self manifestations. What Stadelmaier in the FAZ wrote, that it [S. doesnt differentiate between the various acts, i.e. does not address the problematic THIRD ACT PARTISANEN AGIT-PROP] is written with Handke heart-blood is the case. Deep fondness underlies ALL of them.... the villagers of WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGERS have come to life, rounded even with having typical qualities that identify them: Ursula's out of-placeness, Valentin's eroticism, Benjamin's nausea and so on.
Now this is a work that is worthy of the Nobel Prize in every sense in which that prize is given. Boy, is this tough to bring off without falling into all the usual sentimental traps.

I noticed also that the "I" narrator introduces the PARTISANEN business as having occurred in the past - a kind of plus-quam-perfect treatment, even while moving forward to the eventual telling demonstration of it in ACT III. Time present, time past, time future are very Eliottisk here, and the PLACE ! Places are the last dramas. So that needs to be made very distinct, memorably so. Just a bare stage with leaves trickling down as in the Salzburg production??? I will now carefully re-read Act II. Eventually, in a few days I will re-read from back to front! That is always a test also of one's own memory.

Part II
Whereas Part One singles out one year, 1936, Part II homes in on the relationship of the narrator to his mother and we have dialogue which occasionally becomes a bit wordy. First the mother appears a young country girl,  then as a young gussied-up city girl and her dark sister, Ursula, berates her for the affair she is having with a German soldier stationed in Carinthia in 1942 [that is, appr. 7 years have passed between the 1936 focus of Part I and Part II p.51-70.] It is noticeable that the ANSCHLUSS is not mentioned, perhaps the author takes if for granted that his Austrian audience knows?

Part III
The grandparents appear, the grandfather curses royally and far more marvelously I expect than he did so famously in reality with the spectacular cussing Handke puts into his mouth, of the Germans, also called their Roman appelation "Swabians," one at seeing his daughter pregnant and, when his wife opens a second letter that announces the death of son Valentin at the front. The grandmother seeks to soothe matters between the daughters and the grumpy grandfather as they walk home. There is a weird moment when the "I" caresses the pregnant stomach of his mother [an apparition after all!] with himself inside as a fetus!


I re-read ACT III this afternoon, and then went
for a walk through my "prarie"
and the following thoughts occurred with regard to Part III. As a director, I think I saw one very short section one might want to cut. The dialogue between the brothers and between the sisters, and between the sisters and brothers
are all very short, Handke's stylized dialogue, who refuses to write naturalistic dialogue. And all that is fine, and  I really like that Gregor-Jonatan instead of following Ursula-Snowqueen into the maquis decides to take one more long roundabout to think his decision over, or whatever. Gregor pushed the pram, baby cart back and forth, Handke's wishes for father,
his uncle, the horticulturalist who receives the nom der guerre of an apple. Valentin the Westerner even suggest American apple names! The act contains a lot of lovely sequences.
It takes place in the year 1944, although it hearks back to 1942, the year of Handke's conception and birth. There is a lot of berating of the bastard child's mother for having slept with a German soldier. At the end she
goes off to Germany to look for the father, as Maria Sivec did to rejoin her husband, Handke's stepfather.

Something that has puzzled me for some years is the extent to which illegitimate children were frowned on among Carinthian Slovenian country folk. Perhaps Fabian will be able to answer that, or one or the other of my Carinthian
friends, also on face book. In some rural communities an illegitimate pregnancy is welcomed, because it signifies that the woman is fertile, marriageable, able to provide
not only successors but field laborers. Judging by the the problem the mother's illegitimate pregnancy is for this clan, perhaps that is not the case among the Slovene country folk. However, her going off to Germany to search
for him, and two years after the birth of the child: why have it in the play, t'would not be typical, not two years after. Why not put in: he was married, he has other children [a matter I don't recall Malte dwelling on in his MEISTER DER DAEMMERUNG, although he did great work in unearthing the correspondence between Herr Schoeneherr and his son Peter Handke.]

 The attempt to make the play hoe
a parallel to Handke's life, and then diverge from it at crucial moments, creates some dramatic problematics here. It may very well have been the case that Maria Sivec married Bruno Handke because she needed a husband for her baby,
he appears to have been quite good looking, and he can't have been [?] the horror he turned out to be when she rejoined him in Berlin in 1944, a wounded soldier, back from the front,
alcoholic, already living with another woman.

Upon rereading this Act III I am less troubled by Valentin's extolling of the "open West" than I was on the first go around. Will I be less troubled by the Agit-Prop of Act IV the second
go around?
michael roloff 7:15 PDT,


 Ever so fortunately, our poet-narrator becomes quite concrete in his descriptions of the kind of life that his aunt Ursula/Snowbird is leading as a partisan in the mountains and in which he she is then joined by her brother Gregor [as Jonatan who leaves his troop, burns his uniform and who used to be unable to hurt a fly then turns killer, and so it becomes sufficiently poetically convincing also in concrete detail. The theme of Slovenian irrendentism first cropped up in Handke's work as one of Filip Kobal's ancestors is said to have been in the 1986 THE REPETITION.

I now feel easier with the stylization in act IV of the Fasanen/ Partisanen biz. The Slovene who uses the word "Fasanen" here does not appear to know that that was the appellation for over-decorated Nazi Bigwigs. However, I have more problems than before with what is called "Klartext" at the beginning of Act IV, which is anything but. Why does Handke suppress the Anschluss and not at least mention Austrian enthusiasm for it? Not to mention the theft of Jewish property, especially in Vienna. Calling it "forced" here at the beginning of Act IV. Does the now "staatstragende" wonder-poet not want to offend the Obrigkeiten? Also, Austria's giving itself the airs after WW II of being a "victim" goes entirely unmentioned. Some "Klartext"! No wonder the "ich" claims that speaking in those terms makes him tired.

Yes I think, Ursula/Snowchick's and Gregor/Appleboy Jonathan stylized presentation of their "Fasanen" life is as evocative as stylization can make it. So much for that for now.

What, however, also bothers me more than ever is the mother going off to Germany to look for the father of her love child, and leaving the love child behind! The falsification of Handke's own origins would/ could have been avoided by picking an entirely typical family - however, Handke - the way he works I think - would not have felt intimately to the proceedings as he needs to for his art! for him to breathe self into it! So he ends in a quandary. The mother might have had a day job with the "svabi", as the Romans already called the Germans in a Region larger then Schwaben a couple of thousand years ago. Why does she need to be away at all? What dramatic purpose does that serve, except possibly to emphasize her love for the German? But here she is leaving two years after giving birth, and in the middle of a war! If she stayed, Gregor can still push that pram! The grandparents would not have had reason to feel quite as bereft, true. But the mother might have had reason not to join the "Fasanen" because she needs to take care of her "love child" , she might, however, have been presented, with a German lover, as being interestingly torn?? Between helping her sister Ursula and favorite brother... and ...?
 Handke does not really indicate that this German was a member of the Army.


Alas, one more long long note about Act IV of Handke's STURM.
What is the flaw that ruins this piece for me? With such great first
two acts, and a fine 3rd Act. At this point I have even made

my peace with the stylization of the first two thirds of Act IV. If one were to introduce the photographs
and filmic elements that the piece refers to this would be a wonderful section to do that.Old grainy WW II stuff, too. However, it is by page 124 when Gregor/Jonatan starts
up with his "we have won speech"
I feel embarrassed, this really is the crudest of AGIT PROP.

 You might say,  to put it simply: by ACT IV it is clear that there is no Hamlet in this piece, or rather: no HAMLETINA. Is there a Lear left at the end, the end of ACT V?

And how easily there might have been if Handke's character had
not come into play. Old Ezra pointed out that artists ultimately
live and die by their character. Our great virtuoso genius Peter
Handke - we have come to praise Caesar, for all his gifts
the ultimate inversion of a boulevard play

for the sheer genius of THE HOUR WE KNEW NOTHING OF EACH OTHER
for a nearly endless supply of of lessons in how to write
for the latest novel DER GROSSE FALL. but also to point out
some deep flaws, which he is old enough to face. There is all that "ich muss mich stellen", "sie soll sich ihm stellen" in the Saltworks novel KALI and in Morawische Nacht.
He is such a jongleur, even coy.
But he doesn't actually ever "face", he avoids,
perhaps it is because the "Singer Naehmachine" refuses to answer,
however the PsychoPhysiker does answer and he answers now.

You will recall that wonderful scene where the "wonder child"
the "little bastard" is admired in his crib in ACT III...
like the CHRIST CHILD.
THAT is IN the play!
[is there any need for it aside self admiration of course now made in the now time worn form of humor, humor as defense!]

It really is no wonder that Handke had that hugely swollen head,
that was so in love with itself,
what with that oversupply of narcissistic goodies as of intra-uterine. He actually writes about some of these matters
as though he had been analyzed, not that one needs to be to have
those memories of lying under a loving heart. But also a depressed

heart that that had been abandoned by the love of its life.
Thus Handke's anlehnende/ analclytic depression.
That the mother merely hints at, an audience would
never notice her equivocation.

The "mother's signature", Dr. Bernard Bail's very major
contribution to the armature of the Psycho-Physikers!

Maria Sivec his mother provided herself with a husband for the
the little bastard, who never was a bastard child. That husband was
the name-giving Bruno Handke, a very good looking fellow when
young. Maria had all that love in her, the love of her life would not
leave his wife and children for her. She married a surrogate....
who turned out to be a monster, perhaps the war and being wounded
turned him into a monster, brought out the monstrousness in him.
No one  in Griffen it appears seems to have heard of divorce,
of separation. As we now know she killed herself at the prospect of his return, in 1971, from a sanatorium.

Not only the mother's but that of all significant figures to whom we are exposed, e.g. Bruno Handke, the man Maria Sivec

married, as a surrogate, another German soldier, neither he

nor Maria's marriage appear in the play. There is the flaw, the avoidance. Maria, married to a German soldier would be Hamletina, wouldn't she? Torn! And, does the "ich" change as it creates  this mis en scene ad- but also inadvertently?

I could tell you stories about myself, but this is not the place and time.

How does all this enter this play and Act IV:
it enters it in the following fashion
Handke has his mother appear, there are these exchanges, first with her
as a young country girl, then as a jazzed up city girl -
Handke is writing drama,
half-autobiographical recourse he takes,
in sharp strong strokes, he gets the basics down, he knows his craft,
The ground for the turn into the a PARTISANEN STUECK is also well
though more subtly laid in the first three acts:after all, the "ich" is looking back, he has these time capsule views 1936, then 1942-44 - Handke regards his life in installments of seven year stretches - vide WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES, the opening, also if you regard his entire oeuvre,
it transpires in  7 year periodicities -

and then all tension goes poof! The play becomes flat!

Another go around with ACT V and then perhaps I/ we
will be done.

Part V
p. 134-165

Itself consists of five parts and illustrate Handke's mastery as your  ultimate weaver bird, the way he segues and makes fittings, both small and large, what a master carpenter he is and how he wraps everything together, times past and present, major qualities, a sad waltz into a weltschmerz polka, in defiance of the ever increasing weight of history. First Gregor and his nephew "I" discourse about the end of WW II, the 8th of May 1945, and Gregor waxes rhapsodic about the beauty of Carinthia now that he is a civilian again, and a liberator; but a short-lived liberation it was to be courtesy of supra-national and then national Austrian geopolitical monstrosities, and soon enough Gregor curses and for a while I thought, on first reading of Section V, that
I was locked in a rant, however, it subsides, there is an extraordinary scene where the mother appears and confronts the narrator "I" with his youthful selves and appears to show him his limits [certainly not his linguistic limits, which appear boundless], there is the derisive polka and a beautiful quiet fade out. Words fail us on thinking on how unlikely it is that this piece will ever be put on the English language stage.

Notes & Comments & Critique

1] Since FOREVER STORM is also a historical drama, set within a very specific historical context that has its consequences in the now of the existence of the Slovenian population of Carinthia, and since Handke in several ways sketches and nails down the historical context - as a kind of mish-mash, which I adore!, but also as what he calls KLARTEXT - objective reporting, narrative as you might encounter it in a history book - I miss mention of two hugely important features: [a] the l938 Anschluss which was greeted so jubilantly by the now again large Austria, part of Grossdeutschland; and [b] any mention during post WW II of Austria's claim to have been as much of a victim of Hitler and Nazism as the rest of Europe. Perhaps these matters are self-understood or evident to an Austrian or German audience, they certainly would not be to the rest of the world; and an English language edition would do well with an appendix for these two major and some minor matters. At any event, Handke's going into the nitty-gritty of the how and why the Slovenian minority got shafted after WW II despite its having been the only actual only partisan opposition within the greater Reich may pass the reader and listener by and may need to be telescoped, or have another minority substituted for an English and probably other foreign language productions. The WELT THEATER becomes very parochial theater here, and perhaps the play ought to have premiered in Klagenfurt instead of at the Salzburg Festival. It turns out that the Klagenfurt theater has no relationship to Handke texts. Its art director talks about plays as "products."

1] Locating the family in the borderland between Austria and Slovenia and introducing a fair amount of Slovenian, then translated, might seem problematic from the standpoint of putting the  play on in English, an adaptation into Mexican for the family and the language would drive the thematics of acculturation more powerfully home???

2] Other autobiographical and autobiographical rewritings of Handke's come to mind going back as far as his first novel DIE HORNISSEN and SORROW BEYOND DREAMS and especially its rewriting THE REPETITION; DEL GREDOS, too, has a lot about a Slavic [Sorbian] family and it haunting the heroine. However, what you realize, especially with that kind of familiarity, is the difference between the autobiographical Peter Handke and the "I" that of his narrator director voice in the dream-play FOREVER STORM, especially so if you have written but will need to complete a kind of biography of Handke as I did with DEM HANDKE AUF DIE SCHLICHE        

where Lothar Struck did yeoman's work in grooming some dogs that have slipped into my German. The distinction is very clear and finely drawn, but Handke saying that the "I" in the play is fictional so far has not kept reviewers and commentators from making Handke a descendant of Partisan Belgrad and mashing things up into myth.

3] Yet, even though Handke, correctly, absolutely so, describes the narrator presenter jongleur dreamer "I" of STORM as a "fictional" "I", and since he takes recourse to family history to make his story intimate, and perhaps needs to for the sake of inspiration, closeness, the voyeuristic will - and perhaps are even meant to - draw no amount of silly inferences from drawing parallels between the actual Handke family and the fictional in the best sense here. Handke's family in no way was involved in Partisan activity, by naming one of their sons Hans and with the daughter Maria involved with various German soldiers, the third surviving son, Jure, a right wing Austrian after the war, may even have been on the way to acculturation and assimilation, as has happened in that forever someone's province in no end of directions over thousands of years.

Inwiefern dieses Stueck Einblicke in Handke's Familie erlaubt ist zu bezweifeln da es sich um eine dichterisch fantasierte Familie in dem Stueck handelt. Da ist ungeheurlich viel ausgelassen, verdreht und neu reingeschriben. Dieses wahrlich 75% wirklich grosse Stueck erlaubt grosse Einsicht in die DICHTERISCHE PHANTSIE von Peter Handke.

 Handke's stepfather, Bruno Handke whom Maria Sivec married when pregnant with the German soldier Schoeneherr's child is never mentioned. Nor does his real father make an appearance. Handke's grandparents only had one daughter. The play needs to be understood within its own terms, not by reference to Handke's biography, no matter that he uses the latter more or less deeply, and tenderly. Although Handke had no "aunt Ursula", a "dark sister", e.g., was demanded by the laws of form, the requirements of the drama. Gregor was killed on the Russian front in 1943. The one surviving brother, Jure, became a right wing Austrian nationalist. The insinuation that the play presents Handke's family might have been avoided, if that is what Handke had really wanted, if he had simply picked a typical Slovenian Carinthian family that really was involved in Partisan activity, as there were no end of them, and the memories appear to be raw, he could still have attributed those of his own chief qualities - grand cursing of existence and of history, a rhapsodic relationship to nature, conejo Valentin, horticulturalist Gregor, Benjamin's nausea which at the end of the play visits the "I" to these characters. However, the play would then not have been the occasion for so much self-celebration on the part of our Genius [and I mean that, I've known that Handke was the real thing since about 1966]. Handke once before installed a wished for father figure, his grandfather, the "Ote", in THE REPETITION within his internal family constellation, but he wishfulfills something more complex here in the form of a dream. And understanding this piece, this dramatic poem, is nearly as complicated as the unraveling of a dream. In this instance, however, we know where the "dream's navel" leads: into Peter Handke - whence it issued and whence he wants us to follow, and I gladly follow, no matter that I wouldn't think of taking Handke with me into the maquis, but leave him behind to run the ministry of propaganda  and, as Valentin, to service all the secretaries that each others' hearts desire; whereas entering the maquis of language...he could lead, leads... and he would still get all the girls! For a complete display of each and every quality of Handke, WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES is still the work to read:

One other question that arises is whether this is "Welt Theater" as Lothar Struck has it in a very sympathetic  review that you can find towards the end of the assembled reviews at:

is or whether it is the greatest Heimatsstueck ever written by an Austrian, division Kaernten.

Sincerely, Scott Abbott & Michael Roloff,
  Legionaires in defense and propagation,
and occasional spanking of Peter Handke.



I came into contact with Lothar Struck  who conducts the "begleitschreiben" blog the successor to quite some years ago now when he contacted me on seeing a comment I had left at at something about Handke  in Die Zeit and we then did on on-line interview about Handke's engagement in matters Yugoslav defense of the Serbs  being made entirely culpable for the crimes committed during the disintegration of Yugoslavia, a matter that I had given considerable thought to. This interview has not made the transfer of Struck's blog from two day net to his newest electronic incarnation. Initially, it was a pleasure to be in touch with someone who knew Handke's work and who appreciated it, otherwise I would not write this post mortem to a relationship that foundered because Struck ultimately is an adoring fan who a lacks the element of critique in is appreciation, among other failures of discernment. In other words, Struck, who has even assumed the pseudonym Gregor Keuschnig  Handke's own humorous self-appellation as of A MOMENT OF TRUE FEELING and  also the protagonist of MY ONE YEAR IN THE NO-MAN'S BAY, is such a one to whom the "real" Keuschnig says in NO-MAN'S BAY, when he comes adoring, "I am not the one." As such, this adoration in someone who is not devoid of critical judgment at other times does no real harm, although it can be said that such adoration then fails to foster understanding. And I am not talking about fine points here. Nor is Struck all that sensitive or stellar a reader. To start with a few current posting of his, both at Glanz & Elend, where Struck writes both under the pseudonym and under his own name:


Let  me give a few instances. Lothar does a deceptively nice job, more thorough an useful than any of the paid reviewers who may earn a few Euros but are not allowed the space to do a proper job, and thus become quite Slick - Weinzierl, Pilz, et al -  in describing the opening scene of IMMER NOCH STURM Here 

Ein Ich-Erzähler sitzt auf einer Bank auf einer Wiese, in der Heide, im Jaunfeld. Ein Apfelbäumchen behängt mit etwa 99 Äpfeln gibt ihm Schutz und er kommt ins Phantasieren, ins Heraufbeschwören. Aufmarsch der Vorfahren. Sie erscheinen ihm - oder er lässt sie erscheinen? Er ist der einzige, der sie noch träumt: Nicht ich lasse euch nicht in Ruhe. Es läßt mich nicht in Ruhe, nicht ruhen. Ihr laßt mich nicht in Ruhe. Im Laufe der Erzählung (oder ist ein Drama?) frischt der Wind auf, kommt von vorne, von hinten und von oben, wird zum Sturm (zum Erinnerungssturm sowieso). Und die Landschaft, die Kindsheimat, nein: die Bleibe, dieses wiedergeholte Kärnten verändert sich im Laufe dieser Ahnen-Epiphanien. Das ist mehr als nur die Suche nach den eigenen Wurzeln. Vielleicht ist "Immer noch Sturm" das wirkliche Nachtbuch Peter Handkes (und das vor wenigen Wochen erschienene ist nur ein Präludium).

Whereupon Struck makes the kind of supposition that he cannot tell the difference between Handke’s nighttime burps [which would be interested if he had written down the dreams, not to mention attempt analyses] and a throughly composed major work in five act. Being generous to such a fanzine statement - hear hear! = we will let it pass until we come on Struck’s statement: 

Fiktionalisierungen des Autobiographischen

Gewiss - der Ich-Erzähler, der dem-Wind-Ausgesetzte und Sturm-Erzeugende, ist Peter Handke. 

... a claim one can only make if one knows who Peter Handke is, who himself has said that the “I”, the “ich” in STURM is a fictional “I.” If we understand the difference between the fictional “I”, here, I suggest we will ACTUALLY have a major clue as to the other fictional personae Handke has been adopting since forever, a matter in which he has become better and stronger and more sophisticated over these many years. Now if Struck had said “the entire play is Peter Handke’s self, the Peter Handke of the permanent autistic position, who loves himself more than anyone in the world, including Handke who loves to lie and invent and to manicure his image and exhibit himself and suppress certain unpleasant featues and matters and is a coy jongleur” - with that I would not argue, that would be, is a beginning.. The “I” here is first of all the puppet in the hands of our puppeteer from Chaville - if Handke had merely wanted to celebrate his ancestors, he might have written them a long letter. 

 As Struck a while later admits: 

Bis auf die Tatsache, dass die junge Mutter mit ihrem Vaterlosen Kärnten verlassen hatte, entfernt sich Handke von der realen Geschichte seiner Familie immer mehr. 

at which latest point it might have occurred to Struck that what matters most to Handke, and as it ought to, and did, is the form, the composition, the play. Struck also misses the lie that Handke introduces by having a woman who is married to Bruno Handke, leave the Carinthian precincts to find the father of a child now two years old. Both Scott Abbbott and I address and speculate on the problematics that also enter the form and “life" of the play at that point in extenso at:

Struck also errs, significantly, when he writes

“Die historischen Begebenheiten erläutert Handke nicht. for what are the passages written in “Klartext” but oddly distorted glosses of the history of Austria and Carinthia since 1936 to the present. Struck is also some degrees off when he writes: Wer eine Art Verklärung oder gar Heroisierung des Kärntner Widerstands erwartet hatte, geht fehl. Kein Superlativ. Kein Heldentum; das brechtsche Pathos ist Handke zuwider, auch wenn es für eine "gute Sache" wäre. Und dennoch: Fast immer reden, deklamieren, handeln die Figuren dialektisch, zweifelnd, schwankend. Diese Widerständler waren gespalten ob ihres Tuns und auch sie waren vom Krieg und dessen merkwürdiger Regeln geprägt, ja: verdorben. Sie sahen ihren Widerstand als schiere Notwendigkeit.

I would disagree, Act IV, the Partisanen Section, struck both Scott Abbott and me as stylized Agit-Prop, the air went out of the  piece and I speculate about the reasons for that at length at:

Handke used to be pathos-ridden, during his Slow Homecoming period, especially in Nova’s epic speech at the end of Walk about the Villages, so pathos drenched there’s scarcely a drop of oxygen left in her lungs. What is pathos: the unattainability of the ideal. Parzifal keeps seeking and we admire him for it, he might be a Prussian about it, and his steel might glint but that is all. A bit more pathos - a la Brecht’s Die Massnahme - ,I hold, might actually have served the Partisan Gregor/ Jonatan well when he becomes an executioner! Nor is there any need to play Handke and Brecht off against each other, from whom Handke has learned and taken quite a bit over the years.

I would also question Struck’s estimate that STURM is a piece of WELT THEATER [World Theater], perhaps it is just the greatest Heimats Stueck  ever written. To be World Theater STURM would need to have the dimensions of KING LEAR or END GAME - that is, it would have to be taken in the direction it itself point to at the end with its mention of the Alaskan Indians. Otherwise, with its basic notion that our “imagoes” constitute our self, could not be sounder. 

 Nonetheless, Struck’s review is one of the few that deserve to be read twice. 



  1. A fulsome beginning Michael. Hope I play my role as well as you have begun yours.

  2. Thanks, Scott. I sure hope it will be more than a mutual admiration society. Why not start the ball rolling by taking me up on some issues that trouble me. It has also occurred to me, linking up with the discussion we had at your
    on Handke's aesthetics and my understanding of his verbal and formal genius, his extraordinary abilities as a seismographer that I myself tend to, in many comments and approaches, focus on his technique, his writerly, weaving abilities. All of this to say that if Handke were approached as a composer, say a Schubert, he might prove less difficult for some people. Yet the text of IMMER NOCH STURM contains some odd verbal games, where he seems so ultra fussy about what words mean in different kinds of German and Slovenian that there is that tendency to drift off into the truly Austrian skurril. .... it appears that quite a few reviewers, Handke's friend Weinzierl in Die Welt and Stadelmaier in the F.A.Z. and Pilz at the Neue Zuricher, all very bright sensitive reviewers and writers came down like a ton of bricks on Dimiter Gottcheff's direction, whereas the Austrian reviewers all love it. In the case of the Austrians, do they not want to bite the Festival in any way? xx michael r.

  3. Michael Roloff, speaking here: "When this son of a mother who was in the German resistance as of 1933 and would not have survived her Gestapo entrapment had it not been for the good fortune of having a courageous German physician, Dr. Charlotte Pommer, for a friend, first came on the section in STORM that describes the famous Partisanen in STORM he felt that that was how "Haenschenklein" might imagine that kind of activity. We are in the world of "agit-prop" and not of its best kind, say Bert Brecht or Heiner Mueller, not to mention many another.



    "The first casualty of war is language," Peter once said.

    If I were to state the theme of this new play, I would add that the first casualty of war, as also the first casualty of peace, is language.

    Michael has laid out the plot in an admirably straightforward way. The plot / Handlung / what happens is exactly as he writes, from act 1 through act 5 (they read like chapters rather than acts in the book of the play).

    My response is to point to another structure or set of structures at the heart (or spleen) of the play.

    Language is the topic that dominates the play. From the first musings of the character named "ich" (and the quotation marks point out that even he is a creation of language) to the last line of the play, language is the question:

    "Eine Heide, eine Steppe, eine Heidesteppe, oder wo." / A heath, a steppe, a heathensteppe, or where. (. . . a heathsteppe . . . A moor, a steppe, a moorsteppe. . .)

    The first sentence, then, is a question without a question mark. It includes a probing neologism. In short, it draws attention to itself as language.

    The final scene of the play has the Slovene speaking characters separated and then pushed to the back of the stage by other figures. They remain "erkenntlich höchstens an den Handzeichen, mit denen wir einander noch zuwinken" / recognizable only by the handgestures with which we still signal to one another.

    The main character, on this line of thinking, is the Slovene language spoken by a Slovene minority in southern Austria.

    It could be any language spoken by any minority (Athabaskan, for instance, in Alaska, as the penultimate scene of the play points out).

    But it is Austria, a Carinthian village, and so the language is Slovene.

    The enemy in this play about Austro-Slovene partisans is the dominant German-speaking culture that oppresses the Slovene language. What will be won, ostensibly, when the war is over, is the right to speak Slovene.

    It's a battle, of course, that was fought before the Germans ever came to town; and it's a battle that must be fought after they are sent packing.

    Thus the title: Still Storm / Immer noch Sturm. It's a Shakespearean stage direction (Still Storm) that in the German, especially with the middle "noch" not capitalized, reads as "always . . . storm."

    The first casualty of war, as of peace, is language.

    Much more to come. I'll end this first post with a section of a book by my friend Alex Caldiero. The book is called "Sonosuono" and is a meditation on the Sicilian language and culture that gave birth to Alex and nurtured him until he was reborn, for better and worse, at the age of 9 in his new land of Brooklyn: END PART ONE OF THIS COMMENT.


    My contribution to the conference is a sonosophy performance, followed by a Q & A session. My friend and colleague, M, introduces me.
    The performance is in four languages: Sicilian, Italian, American English, and a fourth language (if you can call it a language) that weaves in and out and between the other three. This fourth language has no formal name, and is variously designated depending on the time and locality. In the Medieval period, throughout Europe and the Middle East it was called “the language of the birds.” I call it Sonosophy.
    Whenever this language of the birds is practiced, it adapts and interplays with the culture and language of the nation wherein it is practiced. For instance, it can interact with the national tongue, or with the language of painting, dance, or even science, or any combination of these. In this way sonosophy surges forth as a guiding impulse springing from the depths in which sound and meaning are indistinguishable. In Hindu linguistics, it is designated by the Sanskrit term, sphota: the ground sound. From the sphota sprouts the perennial wisdom of manifesting sound mind: sonosophy.
    It’s the most natural thing that for this conference I should speak in the language of the birds. The center piece of my sonosophical performance is a language act:
    I begin by taking items out of a green pouch and putting each one into my mouth…I hardly get to say a few words (“it is always…sad…), the accumulation of objects obstructs and renders the rest of what I say unintelligible. One after another, I carefully place the objects in my mouth: a pen, a feather, an eraser, a wrist watch, a twig, a piece of cloth, folded paper, a stone. I can hardly breathe, all the while continuing to utter words that are but noises and sounds as I nearly gag putting in the last of the objects. All these objects protrude from my mouth. Then, one by one, just as they were put in they are taken out. Gradually my words become recognizable, until, with the last of the objects removed, I clearly utter:
    “It is
    the last
    living speaker
    of a language

    …and after a short pause, I add:
    “In memory of Chief Thunder Cloud, last living speaker of the Ottawa language who die in xxxxxx”
    This piece on the last living speaker of the Ottawa language hits home with the situation and fate of the Sicilian language.
    I proceed with the rest of the sonosophy performance and end with a poem in the Sicilian language, in Sicilian:


    Nun parrati
    U sicilianu.
    Parrati l’inglisi
    u cinisi, o puru
    ma nun parrati
    u sicilianu.

    Nun è mancu
    u sicilianu,
    parrata di bricanti.
    li palori,

    I signuri
    ca sunnu educati
    nun la pàrranu;
    I parrini
    quannu fannu pridicati
    nun la pàrranu;
    I scritturi e sculari
    nun s’azzardanu a parrari
    sti palori
    ca stèsiru vulgari.

    Nun parrati
    u sicilianu.
    U silenziu
    macari avi ‘a vuci:
    vuci di terra muta
    comu quannu
    nun è siminata.

    Ma quannu
    muta staçiuni
    sta terra spicca
    cu çiuri e virdura;
    E tannu dda vuci
    l’antica parrata.


    Don’t speak
    Speak English,
    Chinese, or else
    but don’t speak

    It’s not even
    a language
    the speech of gangsters.
    the words,
    forget them.

    don’t speak it;
    in their pulpits
    don’t speak it;
    Writers and scholars
    don’t dare to speak
    these words
    that remained vulgar.

    Don’t speak
    also has a voice,
    voice of a mute land
    as when
    nothing is planted.

    But when
    the season changes
    this land leaps forth
    with flowers and greenery;
    And then that voice
    will take up again
    the ancient speech.

  6. Language is very much a victim still in Carinthia. as you
    can tell from this link to a discussion whether
    streetsigns and the like ought to be posted in Austrian
    and Slovenian [Windisch] in the area:
    Just look at the comments on this piece.
    If you take a look for Ulrichsbergemeinschaft

    and here they are in full regalia:

    and at that point you become glad of the belated infusion of "political
    correctness" from Vienna to Klagenfurtz! And it is now 65 since the
    end of WW II. Thus it really is a shame that, of coure, Peter's
    work has no relationship to the Klagenfurt Theater, even with
    Fabjan Haffner and the Uni and the Musil Institute. The bovines
    are sullen, just as they are here. It's a world wide phenomenon,
    and there I Peter and his painfully prepared Slovenian dictionary
    for THE REPETITION, and his translations from Slovenian,
    which itself, best as I can tell, is quite a linguistic agglomeration.
    Incidentally, Athabascan is a cultural designation for all the
    tribes in the Alaskan/Yukon/ Northwest tribes. I worked
    up there, with some Indians along the Yukon, Galena, Koyukuk
    area, they were great in the field, not so when drunk in their
    home villages. An interesting language I came to know during
    my years in Baja California sur was Spanglish! So much for now.

  7. DIE ZEIT came out with its review of IMMER NOCH STURM and I left the following comment

    Thomas Assheuer's Reduzieng des Stuecks als zwei aufeinanderliegenden, Moos ueber stahlharten anti-Westen Geruesst Ideologie, verankert in einer Sprachideologie, reduziert dieses oft von Shakespeareartiger Sprachgewalt strotzende verspielte, und liebende Stueck in etwas mir unerkenntliches. Etwas totlangweilieges, das ich nicht wiedererkenne, das mir nicht das geringste als Assheuers Reduzierung vermittelt.

    Aber Assheuers Konzetration auf SPRACHE: "Für die West-Moderne steht »Amerika«, wahlweise auch »England«. Handke verachtet die Länder nicht deshalb, weil dort die Reichen den Armen den Krieg erklärt haben; er verachtet den angelsächsischen Geist, der alles kalkuliert und alles berechnet, er hasst den Terror der Abstraktion, der die schönen alten Namen durch sinnlose Zahlen ersetzt – und dabei pausenlos das Wort »Menschheit« brüllt. Der Westen, so lautet die Anklage, zerstört die Sprache, und er tut es immer noch, nicht nur bei den Jauntaler »Apfelmenschen«. »Jenseits der Sprache bricht Gewalt aus«, dieser Satz fällt bei Gotscheff gleich zweimal. Ohne Sprache verliert die Welt ihren Sinn, und dann herrscht Krieg, und schon der Zweite Weltkrieg war eine Schlacht, die die nichtswürdige Moderne mit sich selbst führte...." will allow me and Scott and I hope some others to focus on this aspect which also has a separate entry on this blog:

  8. Michael, a thought I'm still struggling with. When I first finished reading the play -- in fact all the time I was reading the play for the first time -- I kept thinking that this was a brilliant piece of prose but that it would never work on stage.

    You mentioned in your introduction that this was a Lesedrama / a play to be read. And as such it is raising good questions in me as a reader. As a patient reader, that is, for when I get to moving too fast I find it boring. So I slow down and read and reread short sections, which is rewarding as hell.

    But an audience at a play performance can't do that.

    An audience that sits for almost 5 hours while long monologues are spoken on stage, monologues that rely on complex sentence structure and subtle imagery, has little chance to review or relisten.

    Why wouldn't it simply become boring?

    One answer, I suppose, is that there are actors speaking the lines. Their cadences and dynamics and gestures and interactions would lend a layer to the written word that I can't imagine as I read.

    Some of the photos you've put online make that clear; but they also make me wonder where they happen in relation to the text. There's a sequence where the two sisters seem to be wrestling. Where might that happen?

  9. and a quick thought: the Grandmother pulls her cart with milk across the stage in wartime.

    Mutter Courage!

    A lovable and deeply conflicted character, a good-hearted war profiteer.

    Peter's character -- is she similarly conflicted?

    Hope so, but I'll have to have another look at the play.

  10. In answer to your two short post, Scott, before we get down to the nitty gritty of our language infested brains.

    Of course one needs to read Peter slowly to be affected by him, everything deserves, and as of THE REPETITION his syntax enforces that procedure on real readers, as compared to American speed readers.
    It occurred to me too, that the audience, a well heeled audience en especial would quickly tire in Salzburg, and so they did some reviewers notice. As I already mentioned, Peter has been writing "Lesedramen" as of WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES our of the knowledge that most of his big pieces would be rarely performed - other shorter texts such as SUBDAY BLUE, LA CUISINE are not, don't read very well, but PLAY marvelously. The guy knows what he's doing!
    Where the text fits with the photos: the two sisters wrestling with each other: when URSULA/SNOWOMAN/SENEZECA says she will go off to be a partisan, when Ursula berates Maria for fucking a Nazi Kraut soldier, are two possibilities.

    I suspect Peter might make an allusion to Brecht's MOTHER COURAGE, the agit prop he also learned from Brecht, he has learned from Brecht the playwright since early on, even though it took him a while to admit it. In DYING it comes through.

  11. Okay, so they, some of them, are primarily dramas to be read.

    What then does a director think when confronted with such a text?

    What were Claus Peymann's thoughts when he and Peter disagreed on the play?

  12. Scott: they have been dramas to be read since WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES
    which after its premiere in 1982 in Salzburg with Wim Wenders directing had only a few more performances. It is too demanding. Here it has had a few public readings, entirely by yours truly, but has had wonderful audience reactions. In the case of FOREVER STORM Handke makes it easy for the reader, but apparently not for you, in integrating the directions into the text, thus: since the reader makes his own mis-en-scene as he reads most novels - which is what you look for when translating a novel into screenplay form - in the instance of STORM the author, the "I" actually prevents you from dreaming along at certain moments, he reveals the mechanics! And then the personages, which are, to some extent - in the instance of the grandparents, the mother, the brother Gregor what are called significant internalized "imagoes" [to use the fine Jungian term] - then speak, and what is revealed is the "I"s relationship to them, etc. Since Handke also wanted to write a dramatic novel of a typical Carinthian/ Slovenian family, he resorted to some invention, had to since his own family had nothing to do with the Partisan/ Guerilla warfare against the Nazi forces. Very easy work for a director, the main question is what you think, what length an audience will tolerate. xx michael r.

  13. Makes perfect sense, what you write; and the question of whether an audience will tolerate it can bleed over to the prose as well. If you find any of Peter's works in any book store in the U.S. it will be an accident. Last year in the wonderful Tattered Book Store in Denver I found a single book, and that lying on a sale table -- Sierra del Gredos.

    A slow tempo, his works have, in a fast-paced world.

  14. One of the major experiences, of so many, I have had with Handke texts was my also becoming a "King of Slowness" while reading THE REPETITION... its syntax and the even longer slower rhythm of the swells from the South Pole crashing on the south-facing beaches of Malibu [Loud crashing waves in Chumash, the way the Indios named, also Mulege, in Cochimi, meaning big wide- mouthed river - well they didn't really know about rivers down there, so I don't know what they would have called the mouth of the Yukon? Whalemaw?], the Rio Mulege is pretty unprepossissing unless fueld by a TORMENTO TROPICAL! yes, the speedreaders, the nowhere people, the people with no sense of "being"... what a luxury the most normal things have become. Regards to your five year old buck! May he survive the next hunting season. x m.r

  15. Rereading the play for examples of its thematization of "language" I realized several matters:

    1] That I need to improve my description of Act II, elaborate on its discrete elements.

    2] Coming on ACT III I can see, as a director, where I would make fairly radical cuts.

    The opening, telling how the "Green Cadre" gradually formed in the hills, struck me as fine, allowing the audience's imagination
    to roam. VALENTIN's telling of why he opts for the Germans, the West, as opposed to the "down there" Yugoslavia, or the East,
    is where AGIT-PROP begins - it is a theme that is kept nicely as an aside in MORAVIAN NIGHT, articulate here in the form of the kind of editorial that not even the most stupid right wing paper would publish it is sort of funnee, even touching in its naivete... still.

    When we come to URSULA's announcing how the Partisans long for political tracts I could not but help think of Handke's upset at how political calls to arms invaded poetry in the late 60s, or his claiming that as soon as something as tendentious as an abstraction his thinking he would run away like crazy, or however he put it. This kind of Agit Prop poster child business is so ludicrous that I cannot imagine Peymann who knows hos Brecht and Mueller would play it straight, but you cannot play it ironically either - naively? She would have to speak haltingly, inarticulately, to make it intimate convincing, as the best sections are. I feel that I am becoming the "dark sister" of ABOUT THE VILLAGES, by whose standards I judge STORM.

    The mother's defense of her love child, its description work for me, are lovely, and I also much like the odd truly fairy tale like rumor of what MAUTHAUSEN etc. were like.

  16. Michael,
    I like these thoughts about how to put on the play.

    Ursula's declarations, as I see it, ought to be completely fluent, certain, and forceful.

    As such, they would be a good contrast to "ich", who is a bumbling, halting, stammering narrator and who gets embarrassed or flustered any time he begins to speak Klartext .

    And now you have me thinking of it, why not have the "ich" of the Klartext and Ursula of the propaganda speak in recognizably similar tones and cadences.

    These are the questionable parts of the play that undermine the Slovenian patriotism and village idiocy.

    Audiences need, somehow, to be signaled that this is not acceptable language.

    Trust only stammerers.

  17. from A Journey to the Rivers, preface to the American edition:

    "I wrote . . . exactly as I have always written my books, my literature: a slow, inquiring narration; every paragraph dealing with and narrating a problem, of representation, of form, of grammar -- of aesthetic veracity."

  18. Scott: I imagine you could put the Valentin speech and Ursula's into ".." Quotes as
    Cartoon Speech Bubbles! The fact that the "I" is designed to be a bumbler,
    stylized as that fiction is too, works for me. Since he is the director of his own memory and of the play in his mind that he is putting on for himself and the audience - Handke, our ultra show off exhibitionist - he would be in a position to criticize his own imagination! That is one way one might handle this, surmount the problematics, but I don't recall off-hand whether the "I" is exactly ever sufficiently doubt ridden to propose alternatives.

    I know that that is something I did while transforming the documentary
    for WRITE SOME NUMB'S, BITCH! into an actual screenplay. doubt seemed
    justified and it needs to be made more playful in that work.

    Since there is so much that is utterly delightfully playful in STURM one could use this as an excuse to "play" with the Agit Prop.

    The thing about Handke is that he is also
    a pro, that means he can be slick if the motor of passion isn't running! And I have no idea whether Fellinger or his first reader, Klaus Amann i think is his name, point problematic matters out to him. It would be wonderful to know what the "aesthetic differences" between Handke and Peymann were, Peymann is not responding too my inquiries. I have the sneaking
    suspicion that our old spotlight stealer arranged it so that the play would premiere at Salzburg Festival. I know this Pappenheimer inside out meanwhile!

  19. Your question about whether the "I" is every sufficiently doubt ridden to propose alternatives made me go back to the play.

    Here's one possible answer.

    If the problem is undialectical thinking, non-dialectical speaking, Klartext or propaganda, then what would be the alternative?

    A story that includes various voices and continues discussion. A story rich with "ands" and sparse with "ors."

    We begin to see this happen literally on page 23:

    Und dann noch einmal der Grossvater. . . .

    Und was sehe ich jetzt?

    And the play ends with a swelling chorus of "ands." Here are the beginnings of the last paragraphs:

    Darauf gebe ich mich geschlagen.

    Und unversehens ist es jetzt Gregor. . . .

    Und im Blick ueber die Schulter ins Leere. . . .

    Und dann legt sich mir von hinten eine Hand. . . .

    Und so auch hat dann einer von uns. . . .

    Und ein anderer von uns. . . .

    Und zuletzt ist auch noch. . . .

    Und schon hat uns. . . .

    Nachzutragen ist. . . .

    Und Nachzutragen ist auch. . . .

    These repetitions of the conjunction are more visible than audible. A reader is more apt to pick them up than a listener. They are more Schriftbild than Buehnenbild.

    But they're one critical answer to your question, I think. How to avoid a language that reduces complexity to certainty?

    With another "and."

    By keeping moving, walking, speaking, even as we stumble and stammer, especially as we stumble and stammer.

  20. Let us focus... on one matter... No, on two or three...or... let
    us continue to be all over the place....and then move on. And I realize looking over where I have gone that I am going about it in a very circumstantial fashion.

    1] Scott, your approaching Handke's use of language via Adorno's
    NEGATIVE DIALECTICS. [see below]

    2] Fabjan Haffner's comments [# 9 from the top on the INTRODUCTORY SITE]
    very correctly, that STURM [too one ought to say] is a piece of fiction, and he quotes KASPAR to indicate the level on which this fiction operates: "it could be or might have been" - that all important
    level of the subjunctive - and this is especially interesting
    because Handke has himself appear at a "fictional" main narrator
    director fabulator dreamer, which, I've said this before, for once
    allows, I think, fine insight into Handke's use of personae since the days when he first started using personae , the 1974 A MOMENT OF TRUE FEELING [Gregor Keuschnig].

    Handke makes that painfully clear in the levels of reality he addresses in his first novel DIE HORNISSEN. That piece of semi-fiction created an extraordinary degree of uncertainty in this reader, the experience of uncertainty fear and terror [these are the days of Handke's saying "I am the new Kafka"] is formalized more perspicuously in the
    second novel, DER HAUSIERER where a "pure" consciousness registers,
    phenomenologically [what I, analytically trained, would suggest is at heart a violent primal scene, a gruesomeness to which Handke was
    exposed from age 2 until 12, at any event we are not all born to such terrors and they do not derive just from a few bomber/ HORNISSEN overhead], and these progressive sequences of terrifying signals are framed within a sequential very objective account of the progress and denouement of a black mask type detective novel, of which the HAUSIERER contains ample quotes, unfortunately taken from German translations, otherwise this would have been Handke's first novel to have been translated into English. [I of course might have asked, too, if he could tell me exactly where they were in his German editions]. This is Handke's Robbe-Grillet novel par excellence who provided him with a grid, a holding pattern. Also think of the Dutch painters around the time that Mondrian began to contain, hold ... Loes comes to mind, if I scratch my head long enough the others will appear.

    In his fictions Handke has never diverged from that kind of fictionality - it might have been it might be like that - but that, as the novels become progressively more autobiographical at times his kind of autobiography as fiction really demands definition, imagining oneself as someone one might have been, say a LEFT HANDED WOMAN, what other wishfulfilments are acted out there? MOMENT OF TRUE FEELING memorializes someone he once was or in the writing was becoming a past, Benjamin's notion of the work being the death mask of the experience suffices for me. And I know exactly what Handke was going through at that time - NONSENSE AND HAPPINESS, WEIGHT OF THE WORLD, MOMENT OF TRUE FEELING, with LEFT-HANDED WOMAN he was through the crisis, in as much as he ever is - and MOMENT induces a kind of near suicidal state in me.... until...

  21. 3] STURM as a bifurcated work, on the one hand the perfectly every-human conversation with the "imagoes", our ancestors as they live within us; yanked together here with a drama about resistance fighters, of a dream of freedom briefly realized, quickly shattered. As we know, Handke's family had nothing whatsoever to do with the Slovenian resistance, or the German resistance fighters that I just found out existed among the mountain folk in Slovenia itself. Rather, Handke's family might have even welcomed the ANSCHLUSS of which the play/ novel makes no mention, with some of the the same but also different hopes than the great majority of Austrians in 1938. Grandfather Sivec with his love of the K.U.K. may have seen a revival under a different emperor; HOCH DEUTSCH was admired, his daughter hung out with German soldiers, who I suspect had none of the prejudices against Slovenians that the local non-Slovenians did. The subject of acculturation is touched on but that is all.

    The bifurcation runs through the play in Handke's creating a fictional "I" who is on the most intimate terms with some of the imagoes, you can feel it in the language, in its intimacy to the mother, and grandparents and "Gregor" prior to his joining the Partisanen, is more intimate, but not to the other characters VALENTIN, URSULA who remain flat, as GREGOR turns flat as a Partisan but to revive into full-blown rhapsody, briefly after the war. I suppose there is some truth to Ursula and Gregor being flat as PARTISANEN, that kind of complete dedication is flattening. However, Lothar Struck welcoming a lack of pathos here - well, if Handke had written that act three as well as Brecht did his DIE MASSNAHME/ THE MEASURE TAKEN [it was my first translation, as an honor thesis senior year in college] pathos at suddenly turning killer would have made Gregor's transformation far less flat. Struck also appears to forget how pathos drenched Handke's work from LANGSAME HEIMKEHR through VILLAGE. Strucks congratulations! Sometimes critics can be more welcome than
    such fandom!

    The Sivecs did not have a second daughter, an Ursula, although the one surviving son, Jure, turned Right Wing Austrian, that is away from Slovenian nationalism. That is, you might say, the usual family muddle, and Handke does not write STRUDELHOFSTIEGE. Just as little as he writes Singspiel as he told the author of a song he quotes the one time he met him through me, STAND BY ME, Jerry Leiber who expired last nite, and who also could write better lines than live them.

  22. Let me briefly dissertate on the "As if", which needs
    or simply IS realized as something more real than the
    immediate LEBENSWELT in which the reader/ experiencer
    of a text finds himself, if the book, the verbal work
    of literary art is to succeed before I get to Scott and Negative

    In 1956 at Haverford College our wonderful philosophy instructor
    the emigre father of the two artists
    Lukas and Olivier, was absolutely astounded when near the
    entire class went ape-shit over Vaihinger's "Philosophy of the
    As If". That irreal relationship to the idyllic on the surface
    untroubling circumstances in which we were sleepwalking on our appointed rounds into the heavens of Eisenhower 50s then
    - there we had found someone who in philosophical terms
    had a description for our general state of mind. That kind of
    "as if" state is a DEFENSE, evidently it can also be a shared fairly unconscious one, which however by the end of that year would turn aggressive in the notable instance where the inhabitants of a dorm that was designated for rehabilitation decided to let out the pent up furies at the UNREAL and make the premature destruction of LOWER MARION very real. That is called "acting out." The term "state of mind" comes into play. The state of "as if" as a defense, its elimination through a destructive act was a harbinger of the 60s. There are artistic equivalents to this, also in Europe.

    However, the artistic "as if" that Fabjan mentions would seem to have little to do with Vaihinger's. That kind of state occurs when a writer is seized by an idea for a book, entertains in Longfelllow's proposition, a play, or poem, he can taste it, he envisions it, makes notes, starts to cook, he needs to get the baby out of his system, whatever. Although he only produces a proposition, an alternative existence, and in the world of words, it then has its own relationship to the Lebenswelt. And the artist wants to be admired for the creation of an alternative, perhaps that is all he wants, perhaps he just wants to show off,
    perhaps that is one of his major drives: "Look, no hands, Mom!" Certainly one major feature of Handke's absolute mastery and virtuosity in all his early plays up to but not including the imperfect but interesting 1973 THEY ARE DYING OUT.

  23. Handke initially produced what I would call very objective plays, as HAUSIERER is a very objective piece of work that demonstrates the ultimate overcoming of fear, you cannot reference back to its producer's personal life [except I think I can! but it doesn't help the evaluation of it as a literary text], as you can in so much of the later work only to his imagination, the efficiency of his mind, its powers of penetration.

    That began to change with THEY ARE DYING OUT where references to day to day politics of the late 60/early 70s were introduced as farce and some of Handke's marital difficulties were referenced, and Quitt would seem to be modeled on Siegfried Unseld, anyway, a business mogul just like him who wants to squash all competition. Still, the personal is not needed to understand and understanding the personal is irrelevant to an understanding of that play,* DYING also contains a wonderful discussion about of "down and out" lower depth type plays, my hunch is that Handke was thinking of Kroetz, but he might have been thinking of a any number of plays that live off the audience's pity for victims, for the downtrodden, no matter how well done; and DYING foreshadows the return to Stifter [Handke was at once homesick as a seminary student in Tanzenberg]. The relationship between Mogul Quitt and his factotum Hans resembles that between Mr. Puntilla and his servant Matti, but also Handke's own MY FOOT MY TUTOR, a very pure demonstration - if you look at the text, the way the play is scored, you see at once the degree to which Handke is also a composer - of the master servant relationship, between sadism and masochism, with lots of possibly sinister sounds. RADIO PLAY I, too, plays with anxieties and fears. * [Marital discord, feeling pursued by a longing woman is the spine of SHORT LETTER LONG FAREWELL, especially so if you saw Handke and Libgart together at that time, it recurs in the 2007 MORAVIAN NIGHT]

    I think I demonstrated on hand of Handke's poem SINGULAR AND PLURAL [from INNERWORLD] how Handke converts anxiety into calm, a species of hysterical conversion in reverse, that actually ought to give people pause. That I would suggest is one of the major reasons he is so consistently productive. WEIGHT OF THE WORLD has the entry: "A. mentions that I am writing again!"

  24. With WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES in 1981 I could see what Handke had meant when he wrote me around the time of A MOMENT OF TRUE FEELING 1974/5 that
    he now could do anything - which I understood to mean that he was in full command of the repertoire. The figures in WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES, starting with the prodigal home coming poet GREGOR, his younger half-sister and half-brother [who do not appear at all in FOREVER STURM!] and both the Old Woman and the scarcely different CONSTRUCTION SITE MOTHER might share qualities with the grandmother in STURM. The ever so marvelous three clown construction workers are allegedly based on the like from Griffen, Albin is also the goalkeeper Bloch, now out of jail but still a sadist with the jokes he plays. VILLAGES is a proposition, as are some of the other subsequent major plays, THE HOUR WE KNEW NOTHING OF EACH OTHER is extraordinarily actvist in what it does to the audience with its sequence of images. In that I find that it is as successful as my own favorite play of the early Handke, THE RIDE ACROSS LAKE CONSTANCE which induces pure stasis, at least in me. I wouldn't encounter such a state of mind in myself until I decided to work in an analytic situation.

    I will return to the theme of "as if" and dwell on whether that defensive state as I/we experienced it in 1956 bears any affinity to the way it
    is employed creatively and healthily by an artist like Handke.

  25. But right now I want to address Handke and Negative Dialectics, Handke and Adorno. If there is a German novelist who bears a direct relatioship it would be Uwe Johnson's SPECULATION ABOUT JAKOB and THE THIRD BOOK ABOUT ACHIM. Johnson was even gravely disappointed when Adorno it appears did not congratulate him for what was meant also as a gift to work that Johnson then admired over any other. I met with Adorno in 1969, I think it was May and I was on my way to Berlin to discuss my translation of KASPAR with Handke. Adorno admired Handke's then work immensely, and if he had lived would certainly have written an essay for his NOTEN ZUR LITERATUR. Another shame for his far too early death. Adorno also told me the name of the prince whose apartment Handke was renting then in the Uhland Strasse, a neighborhood I knew quite well from my junior year abroad. I know of a single instatance in Handke's diaries where the name of Adorno comes up: it is in disagreement with Adorno's statement that poetry had become impossible or whatever after Auschwitz. Handke, and I don't think he was just in a contrarian mood, said: "no: more poetry more..." Which shows his utter misunderstanding of what Adorno had said and lack of relationship to the Shoah and the Holocaust, he already belonged to a younger generation. When I mentioned the name Adorno that May in Berlin, Handke said: "Ach der arme Adorno." I see no reference ever to a book that was a kind of bible of mine for many years, MINIMA MORALIA. That does not exclude the possibility that an approach to Handke's use of language via the Negative Dialectic might not be a productive way to proceed. However, I think you would be far better and more richly of in thinking of Handke as someone who was possessed of "negative capability", he keeps matters ambiguous, that is how you create projection screens for your audience, or capture "the conscience of the king" QUODLIBET. By 1980 Handke had foresworn KASPAR, not that "everything" was suddenly beautiful, as that ass Assheurer suggests in DIE ZEIT, WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES is scarcely lacking in grim news of all kinds. Ditto for STURM. However, I suggest, that cartoon version of the resistance in the woods that Handke then comes up with after a fine initial introduction to the theme in Part III derives from the fact that his family was not involved. I must stop now and post this on both sites, and continue tomorrow. In NO-MAN'S-BAY Handke mentions how the reading of Roman legal texts, the distinction made in kinds of punishments being meted out for different offenses introduced clarity into his head. There is much about lack of clarity in the ESSAY ABOUT TIRED, mention of which. Adieu to bed with me.

  26. "[The altered philosophy] can in principle always err; and only thus is it in a position to achieve something. . . . In opposition to the total mastery of method philosophy contains, as corrective, the moment of play."

    Michael, this quotation from Adorno's "Negative Dialectic" is one of the reasons I like to talk about Peter's work in Adorno's context. This kind of dialectic is what many readers miss in Peter's work and as a result they dismiss him.

    A couple additional quotes from Adorno, these from "The Essay as Form" in "Notes to Literature":

    "Thought does not progress in a single direction; instead, the moments are interwoven as in a carpet. The fruitfulness of the thoughts depends on the density of the texture."

    "This kind of learning remains vulnerable to error, as does the essay as form; it has to pay for its affinity with open intellectual experience with a lack of security that the norm of established thought fears like death."

    ". . . the essay is more dialectical than the dialectic is when the latter discourses on itself. . . . The daring, anticipatory, and not fully redeemed aspect of every essayistic detail attracts other such details as its negation; the untruth in which the essay knowingly entangles itself is the element in which its truth resides."

    Note that I'm not claiming that Peter is trying to write Adorno-esque prose. And there's plenty of room for the "poor Adorno" you cite. I just find these and other thoughts from Adorno really good tools with which to open my mind to the meant vagaries of Peter's work.

  27. My impression, as "director" of STURM on re-reading the first
    28 pages, not quite the whole of Act I, are the following: I would assume an intelligent and patient audience that is receptive to long-paced story telling, and therefore I would only cut the following passage on page 10, second # about ten lines, until te "I" starts to speak again: "There you are, you ancestors... " because what he is describing is also acted out. And a few other like it. But not consistently, at times I think it is useful to have articulated what the audience also sees as happening. Didacticly speaking, too.

    On re-reading from this perspective I noticed that the "I"
    is not entirely the director of the proceedings, some matters, at time te ancestors step forth and speak, and surprise him, come upon him out of the nowhere within the state of mind he finds himself in. Yes, how trance-like ought the "I" be, how deeply lost in thought while he inzeniert? I already mentioned in the initial post on "the director's way" of reading the text" that at the end of Act I , the "I" is suddenly older than the beings he has called out of the grave! Masks! There is that magnificent passage in WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES about "leaf masks" trough which the ancestors peer, greet the prodigal Gregor there.
    The ultimate director is Peter Handke who is employing the "I" also as a filter who reacts, is surprised.

    Then it occurred to me to question what to do with all those directions and descriptions that the "I" gives. I think readers will find them quite wonderful and clarifying, though I guess, you, Scott, didn't at first; but an audience does not need to be told over and over again what it sees happening, thus I would use them sparingly, e.g. and for effect when

    Another matter I noticed on re-reading this section was how well drawn Ursula is, or rather how well she describes herself, in considerable complexity, of the kind that that side, of being the unaccepted outsider,
    that exists at least as a fear in everyone [?] will be comprehended and sympathized with. Ursula goes away from home, if we think of Handke's family constellation, she is the invented middle sister, not his "blut junge" mother, Handke mixes things of himself and his real family in, but re-attributes qualities and actual occurrences within a fiction. Thus in some sense all of these selves, these elves are Peter Handke including what his imagination produces!

    Later in the play there is that delightful section where he is making fun of himself as the "wonder boy", it's delicious, who is destined to be ...."a buch halter" a pun whose equivalent is not at once on the tip of this tongue. "account books" I imagine is the direction in which one might look.

    One matter that keeps cropping into mind is one of the two quotes that precede the text of WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES: The Nietzsche one, from Ecce Homo about how "lightly" the way villagers talk, something that really not the case except at the very end there in the alternate discourse. And here "light" is rare too, but in evidence during the delightfully playful sections, the first instance would be the way Valentin describes himself on page 11 ctd. Yes, I can imagine all of his lighter, so it won't be as essayistic. About ten years ago when I decided to give some thought where theater might go if it didn't want to be stuck in its forever naturalism was that the time for verse had come again. I think one German playwright, Ostermaier {?} has taken that direction. I considered translating him, but matters are too damned hopeless in this country to have taken another futile cause.

  28. Scott: let me respond [it will be in two parts due to 4000 character space restrictions on comments], from the bottom up. The "armer Adorno" may of course have referred to the students who were making cheap fun of the nearsighted Mr. Mcgoo that Adorno was, too when they ridiculed their teacher in pressing I forgot what, a naked rubber woman into his arms instead of the expected bouquet, and he was so upset and he and Horkheimer were afeard that the Nazi hordes were once again upon. I myself had put together an Adorno Reader for Farrar, Straus, with an introduction by Susan Sontag, who was a friend then. And if Shierry Nicholson's work had been up to the kind of snuff it would be later, the Reader would have appeared, instead of being killed after I left the firm. However, I recall Handke's tone being so dismissive - on the other hand, that is what Handke was like during those days. From insult to insult, also at the University of Riverside Austrian shindig, if he had not been someone whose work I translated and I the Suhrkamp agent in NY during his and Libgart and Kolleritch's 21 cities in 28 days whirlwind tour of the U.S. [Short Letter Long Farewell] I would have given him the boot from my apartment. Not an impulse I ever had before or since. I had invited the first two American critics who championed him, Richard Gilman and Stanley Kaufmann to meet him, very quickly Peter turned away from the conversation, which I imagine he found unbearably stupid, and hunkered down by my record player and I think it was a Beatle record he put on, I suspect that that was one of those moments he later described as "autistic." He was an absolute genius and he knew it and his anger at the world at the stupidity of the world persists in the novel which I at least am not through discussing at your
    will get back to a second reading in week or so, when we have explored STORM to a fair sufficiency.

  29. PART II of my response:

    Handke's anger was such that this constant cussing made me think once I explored the consequences of long term exposure to violent primal scenes, that he had been touched, also, by Mr. Tourette, a frequent consequence for my psychoanalytic monograph.

    Peter as a maturing essayist in his THREE ESSAYS first takes a Socratic dialectical approach in the ESSAY ON TIREDNESS and, subsequently, in THE ESSAY ON THE JUKE BOX and THE DAY THAT WENT WELL he circles, approaches his subjects but also locates the search and circling in very specific places, Linares and Soria in Spain, and Paris. Among other joys these were studies, at a time of a change to get productively lost [1987] for the much more ambitious, huge circling, carpet weaving of MY ONE YEAR IN THE NO-MAN'S BAY. The one on TIREDNESS is the weakest of the lot, JUKEBOX the best, as he admits himself, DAY is already so virtuosoistic that...

    The essays are also entirely self-referential, as is NO-MAN'S BAY. Peter is apparently incapable writing brilliant and deeply humanistic essays, to name the best, such as Enzensberger's INTRODUCTION to an edition of Las Casa's A SHORT HISTORY OF THE DEVASTATION OF THE INDIOS, which I did at Continuum Books, or the Introduction to Nelly Sachs, which I used for my edition OH THE CHIMNEYS at Farrar, Straus in 1966. So I don't feel that your use of the openness that Adorno suggests is in any way inappropriate, because Enzensberger, e.g., is much more of your standard essayist, no matter how brilliant. But always remember how jealous Handke is of any other star in the firmament! Fortunately Peter is playful, linguistically, as at moments in STORM and was always as of his beginnings as a playwright, OFFENDING THE AUDIENCE, which I now prefer to call PUBLIC INSULT is also a most readable brilliant essay on theater and the theatrical experience, of being in the world and on the world stage. The unhappy fact that the early shorter conceptual plays such as CRIES FOR HELP, QUODLIBET, PROPHECY have hardly been done only proves the shallowness of the so-called time of conceptual art, and in New York, too. I may get back to you once more, and I think your claim ought to be buttressed by several examples. As it stands I have no disagreement any more, but other readers are not so easily convinced. 1:30 PM Seattle , August 25/ 2011.

  30. Michael, I love the observation that "ich" changes ages and also awareness. I think that fits really well with my thought that he changes from being a stammerer (this is often repeated) to being a producer of Klartext and back. A person who changes, changes drastically with experience and with new contexts is a real person.

    In an email, you wrote the following: "BUT FOR CHAPTER III. which continues to puzzle me since our man is not a naif! is he actually putting the PARTISANEN down with that kind of representation???"

    That's exactly what I've been trying to figure out all along. And I think the answer is surely yes.

    And if you see this as a depiction of the beloved Slovenes taking on the very rhetorical habits employed by their oppressors, you have a wonderfully dialectical play.

    So there's one example of the dialectical play I've been trying to argue for. And your note of the changing "ich" may well be another.

    And perhaps that series of "and"s I pointed to earlier is yet another.

    And also those opening questions that end in periods, creating a set of questions in the reader's mind.

  31. And the poor Adorno -- perhaps that was indeed a reference to the theoretician of the revolt who was then mocked by topless women who accused him of being too theoretical.

    In my case, I would call him poor Theodore because of his attack on jazz.

  32. finally tonight, I've never directed a play. And I understand prose better than drama. But I very much like your thinking like a director. It gets at my initial response to the play -- which was HOW THE HELL COULD THIS BE PLAYED!

  33. We are getting somewhere. If only I could get a detailed description how Gontcheff handled some of these matters. I will also transfer some of your thought on the directing page if you have not left them there as well.

    Thinking as a director too:
    If you go to page 25, the paragraph on the bottom with just three lines "An dieser
    Stelle meiner Zeitreise..." Not the sort of thing that registers profoundly until
    you look at the piece from the point of directing and designing the production
    something that nearly always goes hand in hand. The Salzburg production
    had this rain of leaves, one set, and is very earthbound it appears [verbally of course it rises at time very high, but the above line reminds me of another line in WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES, the one about "the spirit hovering just above the surface... space craft hoaver in," [dont have copy of the book, gave my last one away] it's magic time, fairy tale dream time. The "I" is in in space cadet mode with his memory:and then Benjamin steps forth, in a different production he might float in is what I mean, and
    gives one of Handke's patented but loveliest series: and on nausea! which Handke suffered
    from for the simple reason that he is hyper-sensitive and lacks the function
    to modulate that excess.... besides, there used to be all that anxiety, and there may still be. Besides being incredibly amusing, at least to me, it's also Handke making fun of himself, but lightl for once, without self-recrimination, and without denial.
    A speech that is reminiscent of THE ART OF ASKING where the main character refuses the usual forms of querying. Here, Benjamin is presented is playinf as naif, but we know that is is not. The characters as always in Handke dramas are very well delineated.

  34. Since i am doing a note for the revista-of-reviews
    page on all of Lothar's takes on Handke and Handke related texts





    I came into contact with Lothar Struck who conducts the "begleitschreiben" blog the successor to quite some years ago now when he contacted me on seeing a comment I had left at at something about Handke in Die Zeit and we then did on on-line interview about Handke's engagement in matters Yugoslav defense of the Serbs being made entirely culpable for the crimes committed during the disintegration of Yugoslavia, a matter that I had given considerable thought to. This interview has not made the transfer of Struck's blog from two day net to his newest electronic incarnation. Initially, it was a pleasure to be in touch with someone who knew Handke's work and who appreciated it, otherwise I would not write this post mortem to a relationship that foundered because Struck ultimately is an adoring fan who a lacks the element of critique in is appreciation, among other failures of discernment. In other words, Struck, who has even assumed the pseudonym Gregor Keuschnig Handke's own humorous self-appellation as of A MOMENT OF TRUE FEELING and also the protagonist of MY ONE YEAR IN THE NO-MAN'S BAY, is such a one to whom the "real" Keuschnig says in NO-MAN'S BAY, when he comes adoring, "I am not the one." As such, this adoration in someone who is not devoid of critical judgment at other times does no real harm, although it can be said that such adoration then fails to foster understanding. And I am not talking about fine points here. Nor is Struck all that sensitive or stellar a reader. To start with a few current posting of his, both at Glanz & Elend, where Struck writes both under the pseudonym and under his own name:


    Let me give a few instances. Lothar does a deceptively nice job, more thorough an useful than any of the paid reviewers who may earn a few Euros but are not allowed the space to do a proper job, and thus become quite Slick - Weinzierl, Pilz, et al - in describing the opening scene of IMMER NOCH STURM Here

    Ein Ich-Erzähler sitzt auf einer Bank auf einer Wiese, in der Heide, im Jaunfeld. Ein Apfelbäumchen behängt mit etwa 99 Äpfeln gibt ihm Schutz und er kommt ins Phantasieren, ins Heraufbeschwören. Aufmarsch der Vorfahren. Sie erscheinen ihm - oder er lässt sie erscheinen? Er ist der einzige, der sie noch träumt: Nicht ich lasse euch nicht in Ruhe. Es läßt mich nicht in Ruhe, nicht ruhen. Ihr laßt mich nicht in Ruhe. Im Laufe der Erzählung (oder ist ein Drama?) frischt der Wind auf, kommt von vorne, von hinten und von oben, wird zum Sturm (zum Erinnerungssturm sowieso). Und die Landschaft, die Kindsheimat, nein: die Bleibe, dieses wiedergeholte Kärnten verändert sich im Laufe dieser Ahnen-Epiphanien. Das ist mehr als nur die Suche nach den eigenen Wurzeln. Vielleicht ist "Immer noch Sturm" das wirkliche Nachtbuch Peter Handkes (und das vor wenigen Wochen erschienene ist nur ein Präludium).


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