Sunday, February 28, 2010


This is a Kopie of a letter communicated directly via the respective publishers on-line contacts to Holzbrink and John Sargent at McMillan

Sehr geehrte Frau Schöller, und Dr. von Holzbrinck:
Ich trete an Sie heran in zwei Angelegenheiten, die erste [1] betrifft meine ehemalige Anstellung bei Farrar, Straus & Giroux; die zweite [2] das Verlegen dort von dem von mir da eingeführten und übersetzen Suhrkamp Autor Peter Handke – ja, dadurch dass Farrar Straus einen Haufen dort von  diesem Kuckuck da eingelegte Suhrkamp Autoren macht, sowie andere schöne und wichtigen deutschsprachigen Sachen, ist Holzbrinck ja der Amerikanische Verleger von Peter Handke, des gros von Hesse, Nelly Sachs, Hans Erich Nossack   deswegen Kopien dieses Brief an Suhrkamp, Residenz, Jung und Jung, und an McMillan USA, ihr Schirm in New York....

Hier folgt jetzt ein Brief den ich an New Directions gerichtet habe da dieser schöne Verlag schon einmal Erfolg mit einem Handke Titel hatte. Ansonsten habe ich auch Handke Gedichte bei Continnum und Urizen Books verlegt, Ueber die Dörfer hat hier Ariadne gemacht, und Yale University Press die zwei grossen Stücke Als wir noch nichts voneinander wussten &Die Kunst des Fragens.
Ein Grund für diesen Brief ist auch dass FSG es ploetzlich nicht mehr in der Lage sind mir Handke Bücher zu schicken, zum rezensieren, ich habe die Leute da, auch Herrn Galassi mehrmahls dazu gebeten, koenne ja auch meinen Account zur Abrechnung gebrauchen.
Ich bitte um Entschuldigung für mein inzwischen eher holpriges Deutsch. 

I wanted to call your attention especially to a recent marvelous title that Farrar, Straus declined, Kali [note of mine attached which can also be found at the page devoted to this novel at

FSG it appears  consulted Handke's current chief translator Krishna Winstonwho said it was like some other Handke that had already been done, and also that she did not want to be completely overwhelmed. While I entirely understand the second of her reservations, I also entirely disagree with the first,  as is spelled out in detail in my "Note". Handke prides himself on not repeating himself, and can be said, with all the other contradictions he has committed, not  to have done
so in this instance, so far.

 Moreover, there are other important Handke titles on which Farrar, Straus has passed, most importantly the second volume of his spontaneous diary notations, Die Geschichte des Bleistifts [The History of the Pencil, L'Histoire de Crayon and also in Spanish and Portuguese,  etc.,  published by Residenz Verlag, Salzburg in 1981] which details not only Handke's then troubled state of mind, as in the first diary volume Weight of the World, but, more importantly, details his thinking on how his art is changing, focusing on what would become "the change" to what is called his "homecoming" period,
and on Walk About the Villages. This, aside Villages, happens to be my 
favorite - that is valuable to me - Handke title! There are two further diary volumes Am Felsfenster Morgens and Gestern Unterwegs [Mornings, at the Boulder Window + Yesterday, On My Way] that were published by  former Residenz editor Jochen Jung at his own firm Jung & Jung, also Salzburg at about 1989 and 2005 respectively. As an American publisher I would combine the two into one volume, and edit them with the English speaking public in mind. 

Scott Abbot has just completed a wonderful translation of Handke's great 1999 play Voyage by Dugout: The Play about the Film About the War and some marvelousplays remain untranslated: La Cuisine   [and unusually delightful text that he did for the Serbian director Materic] ; Zurüstungen für die Unsterblichkeit [Preparationsfor Immortality 1996] and the most recently produced playAls der Tag uns scheidet, a pendant to Beckett's Krapps Last Tape that has received wide notice and, being a two character play, is beloved by cash-strapped theaters for that reasons alone! And another, about guerrillas! partisans! -Storm Still - is about to premiere in Vienna.

Scott Abbot wants to do a combined edition of all of Handke's Yugoslavia texts
aside the one that was published by Viking, Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia that is, to combine that with the first Abschied vom Traum vom 9ten Land, Sommerlicher Nachtrag,and Unter Tränen Fragend as well as Daimiel & Rund um das Tribunal as well as the most recent of those texts, one which deserves to be published as a stand alone it is so extraordinary [see the prose site for a discussion of it, also the Handke blogs] Die Kuckucke von Velica Hoca [The Cuckoos of Velica Hoca] where Handke, the old cusser of journalists, shows how to do it right.

Farrar Straus started to mispublish Handke about the time that they
combined the novel A Slow Homecoming with the diary of walking The Lesson of Saint Victoire and the memoir of Handke raising his daughter Amina, A Child's Storyinstead of doing these very different books separately. This made for an entirelyconfused reception, which persists, vide Benjamin Kunkel's introduction to therecent NYRB Books reprint of A SLOW HOMECOMING where he speculates in true postmenstrualist fashion on how these texts [which were never meant to be published together or regarded in that dried Tampax fashion] how that space between them exist in sprung rhyme, I am kidding]

That FSG passed on three of Handke's greatest texts Walk about the Villages and The Art of Asking  and The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other done respectively by Ariadne Books and Yale University Press, doing so despite the fact that Kaspar and Other Plays had gonethrough more than ten editions by then, that the second play collection, They Are Dying Out
and Other Plays 
had sold out, and actually ought to have been reprinted.
Fault for this mis-publication lies chiefly with the now deceased Runyonesque Culture-Vulture Roger Straus. Scott recently called my attention to a letter that Straus, in the early 90s,, sent to Siegfried Unseld and which Unseld gave to Handke who showed it to Scott -a daisy chain  now coming full circle - which says that he's got a major problem: Handke .... and it appears in usual fashion that Rogah failed to reflect that Handke sales or the lack thereof - which is what the problem was then about, prior to Rogah! Dissociating himself from Handke's undertakings in matters Yugoslavian – were certainly  in good part of his very own making since FSG had sold semimasspaperback editions of prior work several times over, and the first book of plays had had 10 + editions. Rogah and his succession of Handke editors who get Handke piled on their desk on joining the firm, imagine being settled with the re-incarnation of Goethe as you a very junior thingstart to work at such an august firm... well Handke must have had at least ten of them by now at Farrar. A couple of the earlier ones, one of whom also was mine, and Nancy Meiselas,  were fine, and so was the recently departed Annie Wedekind... but how can
one even keep up and how can they poor things with having this towering
work bestowed on them, a tower that keeps on growing. Elizabeth Sifton
fresh out of Radcliffe got Saul Bellow and swam, did not sink, and I can
see why Saul would have been happy too... after possible initial apprehensions....
read Ms. Sifton's delightful account of the experience at:
However, two editors who were not really Handke's editors, Michael DiCapua,
who if he had had his druthers initially would have blackballed Handke
as he did so many other of my projects, as well as Steve Wasserman who
when he ran Noonday Books, the forever stepchild paperback line, and
Hill + Wang, the designated  play-publishing wing, appear not to have
known either what do to do with these plays or the prose. Thus it continues to be amateur time, and I am Jonah ambergris that survivedthat experience who realized early on translating the early plays and directingthem and participating in their production that the kid from Griffen was a genius,and it would have taken a genius to guess how he developed, a matter that Siegfried
Unseld, too, then had his hunches.

I myself have no interest in translating any of these, as a matter, since I have
to complete some of my own scribblings, the only author for whom I would
interrupt these is last year's Büchner Prize winner, Josef Winkler,
one of whose books I did for Ariadne. His work gives me a great charge.
 However, there is a bunch of what look like fine translators from the German, a whole new generation  has sprung up in the meanwhile. Perhaps even Mr. Joel Agee who commented unfavorably on Krishna Winston's translation of Handke's recently published Don Juan might want to try his hand at one of these. He did a fine enoughjob with a Nossack whom I introduced at Farrar, Straus these many years ago.

If anyone wants to republish my translations of INNERWORLD and of NONSENSE AND HAPPINESS and add the wonderful long poem GEDICHT AN DIE DAUER, as Bartelsby in Spain did just now in Spain with their complete Handke poems.... I can’t imagine the world not welcoming it, the original editions are extremely valuable now.

I will send this on also to a few other American publishers that have sprung
up to do translations once I have their e-mails.

The first Robins are back in Seattle but no early morning mating calls yet
to ease me out of my dreams into the day.

4616= 25th Ave NE # 357
Seattle, WA 98105

Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society

This LYNX will LEAP you to my HANDKE project sites and BLOGS

"May the foggy dew bediamondize your hoosprings + the fireplug
of filiality reinsure your bunghole! {James  Joyce}
"Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde." [von Alvensleben]
"Siena me fe, disfescimi Maremma." [Dante]
"Ennui [Lange Weile] is the dreambird that hatches the egg of
experience." Walter Benjamin, the essay on Leskov.

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seattle, Washington, United States
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