"Langsame Heimkehr" 1979 ("Slow homecoming", transl. Ralph Manheim, New York, 1985) marked the beginning of a new period in Handke's writing. Now he lets nature represent mental states, with a consistency and almost religious solemnity that brings to mind Georg Büchner and his depiction of the vogesian mountain country in "Lenz". The main character Sorger is a geologist but preoccupied with "the search for forms, their distinction and description, apart from the landscape /.../ where this often painful, in between enjoyable, activity was his profession".
Tilmann Moser thinks that Handke's portrait of Keuschnig is a very precise clinical description of the borderline patient's fluctuation between illusions of grandeur and an all-encompassing experience of void and worthlessness. To shape this special kind of sensibility, Handke nurtures a sort of urban superstition, similar to the magical thinking, typical of the borderline disorder; chance is charged with meaning, "secret understandings" occur all of a sudden aboard on buses etc.