“The eternal son” is a Kafka quote that Handke made his own. Max Frisch called Handke’s play Kasparthe play of the fatherless generation – yet Handke had a hated stepfather, and a real father with whom he had an equivocal relationship once he came to know him, and an equivocal relationship to literary fathers and – not so to his grandfather or the great literary grandfathers. This theme, in Moravian, is broached during one of the wanderings, in Thuringia.
An ADDITION BY MICHAEL ROLOFF - Ocyt 18, 2016: "
I spent an inordinate amount of time for my analytic Handke monograph on the bastard child’s Oedipal situation. Initially, until he suspected otherwise, Handke accepted name-giving Bruno as a his literal father. What made him suspicious no doubt was the perennial violence he visited upon the mother, his alcoholism, that his mother’s relatives detested the poor but extremely good-looking fellow who, nonetheless, if we are to believe the in this respect useful “shoe-leather” Malte Herwig, also supported their wunderkind’s early intellectual endeavors. This is the fellow whom the mother, Maria, seeks to find in bombed Berlin in 1942, this is the fellow whose imminent return from a T.B. sanatorium drives her to commit suicide in 1971. Deepest darkest Austria! Grandfather Sivec plays the most importantly father representation inside Handke, we see him being incorporated in The Repetition, he become the leading guide during the Yugoslav disintegration. A part of this is standard inter-generational stuff/
I have nothing to add to what Scott mentions about the relationship to the real father, that German soldier company treasurer bank employee who is visited during the year’s roundabout – the least satisfactory section of the book during my first read – and I will wait at least until my second read before ctd. to comment on it. Schoenemann had a wife and other children – can’t say that I read anything about Handke’s contact to these half-siblings, the ones father by Bruno meanwhile having joined the dust whence they derived.
One feature of the “eternal son” is that, lifelong, he is in a learning position, waiting wanting to learn from the “good” father – after all, there are father figures aplent about, but none that you can lean on and trust as you may have been able to trust the mother figure. In an odd way, I too belong to this generation despite having had a father who occasionally appeared during my childhood to dispense terror, and who fortunately behaved heroically toward the NAZI regime. A stepfather, a rather playful American figure who appeared after the war, filled to the gap up to a point, but also was an absence off to war. I noticed not that long ago what I missed when I made friends with a might have been, who promptly went off and died; but I have a distinct outline what I missed all my life, especially during my youth. During psychoanalysis it became clear the extent to which the grandfather figure had served as a very early model when the father had been disavowed.