The affairs of a geographical entity that once comprised the now “former second Yugoslav federation,” crops up in Moravian variously.

[2] Serbia/ Yugoslavia
I must have devoted at least a total of one of the past twenty years, since 1993, to seeking to puzzle out, first, Handke’s unexpected coming to the rescue of the Serbs; and, then, the multifarious reasons for the disintegration of the 2nd Federation. Trying to understand Handke I ventured to do so by writing very slowly at first, speculatively, and the main handke-yugo blog site, which is rich in related material, and my summary, in German, pretty much state my conclusions

The chief finding is of the I think all important influence that Handke's identification with his grandfather, Georg Sivec, who, aside his Slovenian nationality favored the first Yugoslav federation, of 1921. For what puzzled me for a long time was why Handke, after the huge effort involved in fashioning a Slovenian identity for himself with THE REPETITION then belittled the Slovenians for their independence once they achieved it in the early 90s, and then proceeded to come out in the defense of the exclusively maligned Serbians ... who, after all, were the chief proponents of a continued 2nd Federation. Somewhere in that murk the contradictions may resolve themselves. Also, let us not forget that at one time Handke favored lots of borders, since he felt that ease of transition, good roads, made for bad people. Our ascetic sadist?

The knowledge I acquired in the process of these investigations make me none the happier, also for their entire lack of utility but for myself or interest but by one or two other aficionados of this grim matter.             One matter that continues to upset and puzzle me is why each of the tribes in that region is allowed to be nationalistic but not the Serbians. Nationalism appears akin to murderousness, thus most responsible really are those who let out the hounds of nationalism, or made those dogs, for lack of better housing, find shelter in those containers. Those would be those who waged political-economic warfare, at least according to my lights, and surprise surprise but Uncle Sam ends up with three fascist S.O.B.s – the Croatians, the Bosniaks and Kosovo Albanians - for allies, and one torture camp. Peter Handke alludes to these events only barely in Moravian Night, one, by calling Madelaine “Koerbel” Allbright Mrs. “Ganzhell” – not his best pun – and wrong of course since Madelaine knew very well who seasoned her soup, wove her wedding basket and, thus, calling her stupid - get better kicks on Route 66. The only other real allusion to the, in 2006, then past events, is Handke having his character stand-in Filip Kobal or is it ex-author camp out with the ex-U.S. Secretary of Justice, easily identified as the unique Ramsey Clark, in a Dolminen in Slovenia toward the end of the book - whom Handke encountered attending the Milosevic trial in Scheveningen. - Moravian Night allegedly plays around the year 2026, but Ramsey and the ex-author are still fighting for “Justice for Serbia.” I will be forgiven if I mistakenly give Handke credit in this instance for having a sense of humor about the Michael Kolhaas side of his being. Of the other  several independent and unrelated sections from Moravian Night that are set in parts of what is now the former 2nd Yugoslav Federation only one relates the now past wars – the trip of some Serbians to the grave sites of compatriots in the Kosovo. However, the way Handke writes this magnificent section, that features our furiously “Apache” trumpeting bus driver, is to deprive it of its original political and ethnic context. They are just mourners, not Serbians going wherever, and the bus driver – well, one gets the idea that he’s so furious for all the deaths. Anyhow, at something serious!  
Much as I admire Handke for taking his most unusual way to defend his now beloved Serbs and have the world focus on his display, to love and defend the Serbs does not seem to necessitate going to bed with Milosevic or the current nationalist candidate Nikolaiic – but I think, or at least I allow Handke the contrariness that if he is called a Serbian nationalist of going the extra mile to prove his accusers defiantly right. At any event, Moravian Night does not rise of fall on the ebb tide of Handke’s opinions in this matter, or it ought not to; and Handke, the once absolute despiser of politicians now having so  much truck with powerful politicians I think is a story that has little to do with his involvement in Slavic affairs, but that Handke is a near congenital autocrat who thinks it is his due to talk to fellow autocrats like Milosevic, Siegfried Unsled, Karadcics, and various Austrian and French ministers as his equals. Moreover, Central European politicians favor the company of talented intellectuals and the favorable aura of lending them a serious mien it provides. However, let us not forget Handke berating Günter Grass for spending  too much time campaigning for the the SPD and Willi Brandt and advising him that he ought to spend the time writing. Handke is always good for advice on sundry subjects, especially to those whose life in the limelight he envies.  If, say, I were the governor of the smallest of these states into which Yugoslavia has disintegrated – Montenegro - I would certainly listen to Handke on matters of writing and theater, on walking boots, on mushrooming and picking of fruit and nuts and horticulture in general and  how to pace yourself on long walking expeditions – on other matters, say child rearing, women’s studies, not so much.
MORAVIAN NIGHT being set in a houseboat on the Morava River in deepest darkest South-East Serbia signifies that if you wanted to set a novel in a houseboat or river barge, the world is rich in wondrous rivers to do so, the Yangtse, the Mississsippi, the Frazier, the Columbia, Union Bay here in Seattle. However, this houseboat does not float off along the Morava into the Danube with their once NATO-bombed bridges long rebuilt, ditto for the bridges on the Danube. You could of course confine a novel where a variety of people told stories entirely within the houseboat’s confines, as it floated or not. Formally, that would demand great concentration on the author’s part… the atmosphere for the like Handke certainly has created along the lines of a Henry Green novel, and that makes for a great first chapter… and we are back on the boat only a few more times to remind the reader that all these unrelated stories need to be somehow stitched in there… and most novelists would have told us who these various alleged visitors are, introduced them and made it a more social, not that exclusively autistic Handke novel.
   There is the great bus ride with the drive who keeps shouting “Apache” and a visit to Sorbia. The ex-bankieress of Crossing the Sierra del Gredos was provided with Sorbiam roots, which neither added nor distracted or detracted anything from Handke’s characterization of her, perhaps mystifying those who had never heard of the Sorbians until now.  She is just one of a dozen or so interchangeable lenses [# 10] that Handke uses for the semblance of a story so as to write marvelous prose. Think of him as a piano virtuoso who then has to call his pieces capricious of one or the other kind. Handke is the happy writing machine and his real readers need a few pages of Handke to provide themselves with a least a soupcon of the happiness that his sheer writing conveys… the way a cocaine aficionado might long for for flake, or a pothead for a certain whatever leaf. So let Handke indulge himself with Sherberts as long as he write beautifully about them, I say.

The most extraordinary of the Yugoslav sections is set in the island of Krk/ Cordula where the real writer Peter Handke wrote his first full length text, Die Hornissen, in 1964, and had his first girl friend, whom he also managed to get pregnant but appears to have abandoned as his real father, who was already married, abandoned, refused to marry his mother Maria Sivec. This former girl friend now haunts her first boy fiend as an old crone. Once again using my pictorial shorthand, prior to a more detailed discussion of this [# 11 Krk] section, Handke’s now entirely matured visual style paints the island with its smells and sights something along the lines as a Dostoijevski El Greco might, barely constrained drama and darkness; thus the poor girl can always claim that she was abandoned by someone who at the very least was a great writer, and that she was not a groupie when she gave herself to him. No mention of what happened to the child.
   This section, like the other Yugoslave sections, is not related and stands in no relationship to the others, and the only commonality, as between all these pictures at an exhibition, is that the ex-author saw and experienced them. Nor is there ever in the book any kind of assessment or even a chronology of the various book this ex-author has written, or why he had so many friends who might want to celebrate with him on his houseboat on the Morava, and Peter Handke certainly had close to 70 books out of his pencil by that time, and has a sense of his own development. What I followed was how his writing style became more anchored subsequent to the 1980 The Lesson of St. Victoire in Der Chinese des Schmerzens [Across/ a.k.a Le Chinois de Douleur]. And now, in 2006, that section in Krk/ Cordula.
Michael Roloff, Dec 2012
Michael, your claim that Handke got his girlfriend on Krk pregnant is based on a line in this novel. Don't you see that as problematic? This is the kind of "reading" Malte Herwig did. 

I am not sure why Handke would put in this matter or have the former girl friend, now a beggar crone, express this extreme hatred for our story teller protagonist. We could just return to Cordula/Krk - I stopped by there, or rather my coastal steamer did summer of 1957 , and I can testify to the stink of fish , but then it prevailed in all the ports- and merely recount how the writiing went, a more modest account of the importance of DIE HORNISSEN (of course?) than initially in the 60. The ex-now crone says he killed the child by leaving her?! This may be an aspect of what Loeffler means when she says he criticizes himself as no one else ever has. The girl makes the first move, not that unuual, adolescent heat is astoundingly animalistic I recall! Heaving heavy breathing. She became pregnant after he left? I think the writing in this section i extraordinary, El Grecoish, Dostoijevsky. I dont hold this against Handke, girls are responsible for their bodies, it may very well be a Dostoejevskian self-flaggelating moment? Ask the kid next time you see him! I am green and you are yellow in thee exchanges

Your answer conflates the biographical with the fictional in the same way your assumption that Handke got his girlfriend pregnant does. And Loeffler does the same thing. Who cares? I certainly don't. I'm interested in the novel and the character in the novel says he left her pregnant. Why jump from there to Handke? 

there are many parallels in the novel to Handke's life. Ideas and scenes in any novel come from somewhere.

If I add that Handke sat on a boat on the Morava with Zarko and Zlatko and they had a tense disagreement in the evening and the next morning sat awkwardly at separate tables it is just titillating, nothing that might help with understanding the novel. and if i tell Handke after the premier of Voyage by Dugout that he worked the incident I witnessed in Visegrad into the play masterfully he shakes his head and says "Dr. Scott." 

Are we going to discuss the novel or a documentary of the author's life?

if i tell Handke after the premier of Voyage by Dugout that he worked the incident I witnessed in Visegrad into the play masterfully he shakes his head and says "Dr. Scott." Are we going to discuss the novel or a 
Let me answer this sentence of yours "


VOYAGE BY DUGOUT is one of my favorite Handke plays. I admire immensely how he ":worked in" all kinds of personal matters, such as the "madman" now a FACEBOOK FRIEND of mine whose marriage he witnessed and whose fate gave him the notion that you could go mad, like WoZZECK, at what THE STATE will do for you when it excercises its routines, GERMANY  of all nations, condemning someone as a war criminal for NOT interfening when an apparent war crime is being committed, and Handke contrasting that kind of madness with that of the "forest madman" - what brilliance, what fucking genius in the beautyfully cnstructed and conceived piece of work.
 However, the incidents in MORAWIAN NIGHT that are at issue here, and between us, say the CRONE attacking an ex- writer whom she recognizes as her once first boyfriend-lover is entirely an arbitrary unless  it is tied to the life of Handke, who present himself as an exauthor, and by that means shows us what he is by the way he used to be, something he could not do if he simply wrote a travelogue, or took the notion of a writer going on his last trip around Europe, a travelogue, the CRONE is yet another ERINYE in a book, in a Handke literature rife with them, starting with SHORT LETTER, where the wife haunts the "German writer".  It is a totally meaningless, ATYPICAL INCIDENT unless tied to Handke having written DIE HORNISSEN/ THE HORNETS/ HORMIIGAS in Krk/Cordula. Lots of writers visit these islands, how many leave a pregnant girlfriend behind? The sort of thing that happens during adolescent time. Maybe Handke. the exhibitionist, Isuggest, is having his cake the famous twice, its me, look at me, look at me now feeling truly guilty, I accept the genuineness of his feeling so, I know the fellow well enough for that, but I also know that if he were not such an inveterate competititve exhibitonist since his days as a voyeur of the nightly relations between his stopofather Bruno & his mother, we would not have him as an author. 

I believe it should be noted that the bus trip is to the Kosovo - though the name is not cited - and the ancient grave site there, and that it has the published counter-part in DIE KUKUCKE VON VELICA HORTA 

an extra-ordinary report of an enclave in the Kosovo, the likes of which I don't see any American writer I know capaple of writing. I have pointed this out a lot of maazines, to no avail, and obviously Handke is not selling well enough for FSG to go out of their way - and I think I ought to have enough standing because of the books I published as an editor to be taken seriously in my recommendations. But nada, and I feel pretty much nada about this country and cant wait to get the hell out of it, our discussion is one of my last attempts at some redemption in matters Handke.  As to his Serbian opinions, or his feeling about Miloseic, so what he is wrong? Or just being uppity? I could not are less! But happen to agree with him - not at all where I thought my position would end up when I first became aware of all this in 1994, back "in the USSR" from my pastoral reversion to Mexico.
Let us imagine Handke deciding to desist from availing himself of his personal experiences but deciding to let  his imagination prevail, as it does quite wonderfully in instanes here such as the houseboat on the Morawa which of course could be anchored at lots of rivers that flow into the Danube & into the Black Sea,  the Noise Symposium that arises out of his sensitivity’s utter frustration with the leaf blowers in Chaville, as it would here in Seattle where these beasts that coud so easily be tamed, persue me into this city’s many fine parks; let us imagine Handke imagining a hybrid of Thomas Mann and Vladimir Nabokov doing a last round trip through Europe prior to shipping out to the Black Sea, he visits/ or says by bye to Suissa and Davos where N. lived and M. had certain famous experiences,  a visit to Venice is de rigeur, I let you rimagination roam, perhaps a trip around the Greek Isles and defence of their culture.,.. However, Handke - aside the indicated fantasies – remains the  great realist who traipses around the littoral Danube near Vienna, who revists the place where he wrote his first book., et etc. The apparent then sense of victory at the completion is not indicated, the book is not named and the ex-author’s feelings about might even be equivocal. Thus it is with some conviction that I feel that the ex  g.f. now vengeeful crone is very much autobiographically based, as are certain other Erinye moments which I will address later.

Let us recall the many major steps by which we get from DIE HORNISSEEN of 1966
(ALL TITLES HAVE http://handke--revista-of-reviews.blogspot.com/ MATERIAL !)
via DER HAUSIERER  & A MOMENT OF TRUE FEELING via the more direct narratives of SLOW HOME COMING & ACROSS but also via the more indirect such as ABSENCE & ONE DARK NIGHT & the major narraitive NO MAN’S BAY (which is inconcievable had Handke not explored assayings in the THREE ESSAYS) etc etc. 
to the narrator reporter of a roundabout MORAWIAN NIGHT of 2008. HORNETS keeps recalling an existing text to which the book that makes reference to BOMBER/ HORNETS is a mere addition; HAUSIERER’s exquisitely detailed anxiety is filtered through a distancing desciption via a meta-literariness of the black mask detective stories: literature, literariness is the backstop, and it is essential. In MORAWIAN NIGHT we have a narrator, created by Peter Handke, who reports what an author, purportedly an ex, tells an assembled audience – of which we become one – and does so in astounding intimate detail despite the great distancing that the second-handing achieves.
 That said, the above, what about that extraordinarily convincing bus trip with emigre Serbians to an ancient grave site? Peter Handke may very well have been on such a trip, or just heard of it, or made it up out the rather thick air of having spent a lot time in traveling to the Kosovo and his time on buses. I could take that section and make it a preface to THE CUCKOOS OF VELICA HORCA. It has a documentary first person quality – yet within the saga MORAWIAN NIGHT it acquires the quality of fiction; that is, of the AS IF realized! Ditto for the visit to Cordula/ Krk – no matter whatever autobiographical truth it may or may not have, within the novel it functions in relationship to what the narrator reports the lord of the ship as having experienced, a realized as if. My own personal guess about the great artificer sleight of hand artist – read his so Joycean confession WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES - and it takes a Joycean to get a drift of it - is how sly and cunning” etc he can be – Handke, the exhibitionist that he is to a rather greater and more competitive degree than most folk – is having his cake and eating it. Fine with me. the novel as saga with windows

No comments: