Wednesday, January 13, 2010

A Letter to Jonathan Galassi at Farrar, Straus re: Handke's KALI

Dear Jonathan,

I believe I sent you something I wrote on Handke's KALI as part of my Handke Project some time ago [attached once more]
and have since heard from Krishna that she urged you not to publish it because:

[a] it was like some of Handke's other things;


[b] she wanted time to translate other things, or maybe a relief from the onslaught, if not only from what of course seems like a rabbit
if you are used to the usual author [not to me who knows that Handke has been writing like crazy since adolescence, not just typing
or scribbling either as some others might, and has done so also because it happens to be ... how shall I put it ... a solution to the
way his psyche happens to be constituted, a necessity].  And turned over 10,000 fine pages that he wrote between 19075 and 1990
to the Marbach Institute that bought half his papers!

To  point [a] there is to say: Handke's pride, as a writer, is not to repeat himself, and he has remained true to
that resolve, and berates others who do not, he explores certain formal problems thoroughly; will even find a way of resolving a host of them in one feel swoop
as he does in THE HOUR WE KNEW NOTHING OF EACH OTHER, which comprises everything he did in his early dramas.
To understand that it helps to be a musician, or at least to know the laws of formalism. I doubt that anyone at FSG has the
faintest of what I am talking about???

KALI happens to be truly different except possibly in that, like 
Don Juan, it takes a figure also of the literary past,
Lancelot and Iseult ,and gives it his own modern, near Wagnerian, but not 
Liebestod, twist, rather the opposite,
nonetheless a book that Wagnerians and other romantics would enjoy immensely - anyway, that's how I would try to hustle it!
On the sheer level of writing  and then reading a real READER experiences the book very much on the order of an opera - Handke has not done anything along those lines except that as of 
Absence a filmic element has entered his prose, and not just the ways the scenes are cut.
But, to quote the 80 year old Goethe, talking to Eckermann: "The dear sheeples have no idea what time and effort it has cost me to lean to read. It has taken me eighty years, and I couldn't claim to have reached my objective."

Die guten Leutchen, fuhr er fort, wissen nicht, was es Einem für Zeit und Mühe gekostet, um lesen zu lernen. Ich habe achtzig Jahre dazu gebraucht, und kann noch jetzt nicht sagen, daß ich am Ziele wäre."

Moreover, Krishna hasn't the faintest about Handke preceding her coming in with one of the three essays.
 I have pointed out to her several times how essential it is to read at least WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES
on which Handke has drawn ever since, even a long section in DEL GREDOS reaches back to those rhythms.
It is THE text to understand the change that Handke underwent, the summa of it. Anyone at FSG read it?
Huh? Maybe the tenth Handke editor there, whoever that might be since Annie Wedekind departed,
who it was a pleasure to correspond with.

Qua book, KALI  is as perfect as Handke's other shorter things; whereas MORAWIAN NIGT is not,
and I wish there had been an editor at Suhrkrampf who had had the guts to point this out to him.  Handke flinched.
It is a most problematic grab bag no doubt a feast for postmenstrualists like Benjamin Kunkel to moisten their dried up inter-textual Kotexes with.

to [b] the obvious answer is that there exist other first rate translators and Krishna feeling that she is the
only one and besieged is a sign of myopia or of translator stress, for latter of which syndromes she has my sympathy.

FSG has been seriously remiss over the years, prior your becoming the helmsman, in publishing Handke,
failing to to the big plays as of VILLAGES [I had a fine git-to with Steve Wasserman about his tenure at Noonday/ Hill and Wang
not that long ago]; its failure to follow up WEIGHT OF THE WORLD with GESCHICHTE DES BLEISTIFTS [The History of the Pencil]
which would clue a reader in on why and how he has changed, and maybe give one or the other reviewer the idea
that Handke would forever develop, dreadful prospect of course for that riff-raff, but not for his loyal readers.
Handke's romance language publishers have done a far better job than FSG. But it's never too late!

The next communication, in just a few days will be 
Some Comments on Handke's Die Tablas des Daimiel[devastating, stay tuned! which will appear on the]


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MICHAEL ROLOFF exMember Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society this LYNX will LEAP you to all my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS: "MAY THE FOGGY DEW BEDIAMONDIZE YOUR HOOSPRINGS!" {J. Joyce} "Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde" [von Alvensleben] contact via my website