Below is a fascinating review of DIE HORNISSEN, which I never saw before.
put it online with their excerpts from the HANDKE / UNSELD correspondence,
where Handke violently object to the review, and Unseld warns him to get used to it
What is fascinating is that this review, from a certain perspective, is utterly
correct, but entirely misses the sense of the book. That is something that Handke
himself, however, doesn't say in so many words. Werth attacks the book after giving
an accurrate description of it for the means it uses, and never realizes that
Handke, in this fashion, conveys a state of mind. Interesting to note that Handke
even then, in 1967, finds Grass to be a Konsum autor. HORNISSEN intrigued me at the
time, I had just started as editor for German books at Farrar, Straus... but I realized
that my colleagues there, with the exception possibly of Henry Robbins the editor of Barthelme who would depart the premises within the year, would be
entirely baffled by this approach to writing. Matters would have been different had
it been at Grove Press, but they already had Fred Jordan and Richard Seaver.
Handke, like the mama's boy I expect he is still, despite claiming in recent interviews
that he is "relatively normal" and "ausgelichen" - das ich nicht schallend lache! anything to get on t.v. and try out a new personality that does not bite! - never did get used to any form of criticism, and didn't even realize that maybe the occasional non-hossannah in Manuskripte might actually lend greater credence to positive ones there, and threatened, the threatener that he is, also in the correspondence with Unseld, his closest buddy Kolleritch that he will never get anything from him if he ever runs a negative review again. The subsequent DER HAUSIERER was comparatively pellucid
to me and we had a contract, but Handke revealing that it was chockful of quotes from U.S. Black Mask type detective stories from German translations, then made life easier all arount to have GOALIE as the first translated novel. Yet I still think that HAUSIERER is the more important one. At least it exists in Spanish and the other Romance languages, as does DIE HORNISSEN, Los Avispones. Wasps, spanish doesn't seem to have a word for Hornets.
A major bother during my childhood too as of 1941, and in the summer of 1944 a B-17 nearly crashed into our house outside Bremen.
I forget who the Suhrkamp editor who recocommended the book, but Unseld evidently had read it himself too. It was turned down by Luchterhand initially. Those were the days.