Thursday, February 18, 2010

Perhaps the NY Times Book Review could make it a practice of asking reviewers of translations
if they comment on the translation, whether favorably or not or interestingly, to cite chapter and verse and make reasoned comments. * That way, among other matters, my better, Krishna Winston, won't have to ask me whether maybe there is is something to Agee's reservations or whether they are merely the gratuitous carpings of a fellow translator as  one encounters them with such frequency especially among the amateurs of that caste who do not reflect on the fact that most cats can be skinned at least in two and often nine ways. Since the publisher, however, to whom I brought and for I whom translated three volumes of Handke, including a dozen plays had failed to heed my several requests to send me a copy of the book and if need be charge my account, I was unable to reassure Krishna or express agreement with Mr. Agee's assessment except to tell her that in her translation of the 350 K words CROSSING THE SIERRA DEL GREDOS unfortunately I encountered two words that struck me as wrong and one awkward passage, lucky man that Handke is to have found her
to take up where Ralph Mannheim left off, some of whose work, especially when it came to matters of linguistic contemporaneity since he had lived abroad for so long, and the rhythms of Handke's prose, since after all Handke can be approached, ought to be as a prose poet, made me anything but happy.

As I mentioned in my first communication on the Agee review, which to be found on-line at
and at:
Mr. Agee's was in many ways the best review that Handke has received in your pages, not that that is unfortunately saying very much, although Joel's review can let itself be seen even without making such a baleful comparison,  to, say that criminal act of non-reading that your Neil Gordon perpetrated in your pages on the occasion of CROSSING THE SIERRA DEL GREDOS or the piece of idiocy done there by Lee Siegel - Agee pretty well got what Handke was up to, except for that non-pertinent last paragraph. I was not left too unhappy that he does not know nor did mention into what line of Handke's Don  Juan assaying fits; or that he failed to appreciate the pure virtuoso nature of the danse that Handke performs, two steps forward and one back, as Handke also explores PLACE [the last dramas ] a place near his No-Man's-Bay, the foret de Chaville, as is his custom; that is, the nature of Handke's formalism, the sheer performance of that... at that point, after all, we are getting into deeper waters than one needs to as a reviewer. Or that there
is a "Don Juan" who "appears with the same woman" in Handke's
My Year in the No-Man's-Bay, which is a nice enough joke that happens to refer to the in many ways enviable genuine reincarnation Erich Wolfgang Skwara  who has had four, several of them extraordinary, novels published in translation, especially his Don Juan novel, The Plague of Siena, of none of which the Book Review has taken any note,
perhaps because they were done by that small publisher of no end of Austrian treasures, Ariadne Press, who also happen to be the publisher of Handke's greatest and richest work
Walk About the Villages, which
also seems to have passed you by and many another East Coast Publication and reviewer. Or...

Sincerely yours,
Michael Roloff  [as "Der Getreue Korreptitor"]
Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society

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

"Degustibus disputandum est" {Theodor Wiesenthal Adorno}
"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.}

*I will always recall a moment when both Helen Wolf, a most distinguished old time publisher,
and I a comparative novice, both members of the PEN AMERICAN CENTER's Translation Committee
cast the most baleful of looks at each other, with amazing simultaneity,  as that committee proceeded well into a second meeting to wrangle over the placement of a single comma in its mission statement, as though their lives depended on it, as it does in only one instance I have encountered during my nine lives,
in a passage in Robert Musil's great novella THE PORTUGUESE WOMAN.

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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