Wednesday, April 9, 2014


Der griechische Geschichtsschreiber Thukydides war für Peter Handke, wie er selbst erklärte, in seinem Schreiben in vielen Hinsichten ein Vorbild. So strukturierte er seine Kindergeschichte etwa entlang der Abfolge der Jahreszeiten, ein Verfahren, dessen sich der Historiker häufig bedient. Das zu Beginn des Jahres 2007 erschienene Buch Kali trägt den Untertitel "Eine Vorwintergeschichte". Mitte der neunziger Jahre hat Peter Handke von Alltäglichem, auf den ersten Blick Unscheinbarem, in knapp 20 Momentaufnahmen erzählt. Dabei wendet er den thukydischen Blick von den Haupt- und Staatsaktionen weg und hin auf das Detail. Und nur Peter Handke gelingt es, dieses Detail für uns lebendig zu machen, es für alle künftigen Leser unvergeßlich zu machen, anders formuliert zu retten.

Once Again for Thucydides

Peter Handke, Author, Tess Lewis, Translator

Like his recent novel, My Year in the No-Man's-Bay, this series of intimately described observations certainly doesn't qualify as fiction by most standards of measure. In neither work is Handke very concerned with character or plot in the usual sense. Each of these simple, elegant pieces very specifically identifies date and place, as in a travelogue, with the first-person narrator (often referring to himself in detached third-person terms such as ""the observer"") journeying to locations as distant as the Balkans or Japan. In keeping with Handke's ethic of clean, scrupulous description, ""The Shoeshine Man of Split"" celebrates the ""saint of small measures"" who performs perfectly the small act of shining a pair of shoes. The stories grow increasingly personal as the collection progresses, as in the strongest piece, ""The Short Fable of the Ash Tree in Munich,"" which is the narrator's minute diary of a tree's transformation; even here, however, a recognizably fictional narrator never emerges. Handke's observations are well served by the supple English prose of translator Lewis. Although this small book's avoidance of conventional drama makes it clear that its intended audience is a small one, Handke offers quiet pleasures, delivered in precise, carefully honed language that eschews metaphor in favor of detailed acts of perception. (Sept.)


ON A BLUE NOTE THOMAS MCGONIGLE Sunday, September 20, 1998 ; Page X08 MY YEAR IN THE NO-MANS BAY By Peter Handke Translated from the German by Krishna Winston Farrar Straus Giroux. 468 pp. ONCE AGAIN FOR THUCYDIDES By Peter Handke Translated from the German by Tess Lewis New Directions. 90 pp. .95 Peter Handkes literary career has a pleasingly ambitious feel to it, and over the years most of this Austrian writers many books and plays have been well translated and published in America. Early Handke books such as the startling road novel Short Letter, Long Farewell, about a journey from Providence, R.I., to John Fords house in California, and A Sorrow Beyond Words, a meditation on the suicide of his mother, are impossible to forget. He captures the definitely modern feeling that something is wrong -- a something freighted with words like anxiety, tedium, despair. A new note of an acceptance of complex reality has gradually come to the fore in Handkes work (he is also the author of 14 other volumes of poetry, essays, fiction and nonfiction translated into English). My Year in the No-Mans Bay, first published in German in 1994, is a wonderful place to renew an acquaintanceship with him. While labeled a novel, this new book seems in some mysterious way to be autobiographical in the manner of Samuel Beckett and Thomas Bernhard. Gregor Keuschnig, an Austrian lawyer older than Handke but sharing many biographical details with him, has retreated to a nondescript Paris suburb in order to write what turns out to be the book we are reading: And while at bay in this undistinguished place -- it could be any suburb in the world -- the lawyer lives a solitary life, trying to see where exactly he is by following a Pythagorean saying, Every place demands justice. Handkes strength is to make the vague specific without too closely pinning it to a dissectors table. The lawyer tries to make sense of both the isolation and connectedness he feels by calling to mind seven distant friends, including an architect who is traveling in Northern Japan, a priest in the lawyers Austrian village as he goes about his rounds, a singer wandering in Scotland, and the lawyers son on his way through Yugoslavia to Greece. He narrates their various journeys in a startlingly original manner, saying: I could neither have recourse to my experiences, dreams, and facts nor invent action, plot or conflicts. The book, or whatever it would turn out to be, had to be created out of nothing. One among many themes (the book is so richly resonant that it seems unfair to single one out) is the lawyers struggle to recognize his son. To be asked about my son, he writes, by anyone at all, has always put me in a bad mood, out of the clear blue sky; it has immediately destroyed the harmony between me and the other person. It was even worse when I was expected to tell stories about him. But the lawyer insightfully illuminates the difference between his own and his sons generation: Again unlike me and many of my generation, being isolated, alienated, or dislocated did not give him a heightened sense of reality. Coincidentally, Handkes Once Again for Thucydides, which originally appeared a year after the wondrous verbal profusion of My Year in The No-Mans Bay, has also been translated. It is composed of 17 short prose sketches drawn from observations of the natural world as experienced during the authors frequent journeys in the late 1980s. The concision of each short piece is disconcerting yet necessary, for Handkes purpose is to reassert a primary function of the writer: to see. Only one person was left on the pier, he writes. No one else was there to see off any passengers or the material for the island house well on its way. In the sky, blue above the noon emptiness, a seagull hung in the wind, bobbing its head. Below, a flock of sparrows in the recently formed puddle, their number caught at first glance. These were the events on the Dubrov-nik/Dalmatia pier between noon and one oclock on December 5, 1987. Upon finishing My Year in The No-Mans Bay or Once Again for Thucydides, the reader is sure to feel a little more accepting of the world and grateful for the labors of Peter Handke.

Reviewed by Thomas McGonigle, author of The Corpse Dream of N. Petkov and Going to Patchogue. Articles appear as they were originally printed in The Washington Post and may not include subsequent corrections. Return to Search Results

Attempt to Exorcize One Story By
Means of Another
Peter Handke
It was a Sunday, the morning of the twenty-third of July 1989, in the "Hotel Terminus" near the train station in Lyon-Perrache, a room that looked out over the tracks. In the distance, between railway wires and apartment blocks, the waterbright green of trees hinted at a river, the SaIne, shortly before its confluence with the Rhone above, swallows turned against the white (shot through with sky blue) of the waning moon that then slowly drifted away, pitted like a cloud. Across the otherwise Sunday emptiness of the station yard the train personnel went their separate ways, each with his briefcase, descended the back steps, past an isolated house overgrown by wild grape vines, a graceful building from the turn of the century, windowsrounded at the top, and walked toward their dormitory, a concrete blockin most of whose windows the curtains were drawn. Overhead the swallows flew creases into the sky, and below -- flashes of light from the briefcase latches and the wristwatches of the cheminots who crossed the tracks episodically. Around a curve came the sawmill sound of a freight train. A few of the trainmen also carried plastic bags and all of them wore short-sleeved shirts, jacketless, and as a rule they walked in pairs, although there were several who walked alone, and their coming and going on the S-shaped path across the tracks had no end: Every time the man sitting at his window, the fellow traveler, looked up from his paper, another of them was swinging along below. For a few moments the path was empty, crossed solely by the sun-lit tracks, nor were there now any swallows in the sky. For the first time the observer realized that the "Hotel Terminus" in which he had spent the night had been Klaus Barbie's torture house during the war. The corridors were very long and twisted and the doors were double. Only sparrows chirped outside now, unseen, and a white moth fluttered across the chemin des cheminots: Momentarily the Sunday stillness held sway over this gigantic train yard, not a train rolled, movement only between the curtains of an apartment, and that just to close them, and this great stillness and peacefulness continued then over the yard while in front of the wild-vine house the foliage of a plane tree stirred, as if up from deep roots, and above the invisible SaIne River, far beyond it, the white splinter of a gull flashed, and the summer Sunday breeze blew into the wide-open room of the "Hotel Terminus," and finally another short-sleeved man swung onto the train-yard path, his black briefcase at knee level, certain of his destination -- and so his free arm swung wide, and a small blue moth landed on one of the tracks, reflecting the sun, and turned in a half circle as if touched by the heat, and the children of Izieux only now, nearly half a century after their removal, screamed bloody murder.

--Translated from German by Scott Abbott

Head Coverings in Skopje
Peter Handke

A POSSIBLE MINOR EPIC: of the various head coverings of the passersby in large cities, as, for example, in Skopje in Macedonia/Yugoslavia on December 10, 1987. There were even, right in the metropolis, those "Passe-Montagne" or mountain-climbing caps, covering the nose below and the forehead above and leaving only the eyes uncovered, and among them the bicycle-cart drivers with black little Moslem caps glued to their skulls, while next to them at the edge of the street an old man said goodby to his daughter or niece from Titograd/Montenegro or Vipava/Slovenia, multiple steep gables in his hood, an Islamic window and capital ornament (his daughter or niece cried). It was snowing in southernmost Yugoslavia and thawing at the same time. And then a man passed by with a white, crocheted forage cap shot through with oriental patterns under the dripping snow, followed by a blond girl with a thick bright stocking cap (topped by a tassel), followed immediately by a bespectacled man with a beret, a dark blue stem on top, followed by the beret of a long-legged soldier and by a pair of peaked police caps with concave surfaces. A man walked past then with a fur cap, earlaps turned up, in the midst of swarms of women wearing black cloths over their heads. After that a man with a checked fez -- slung over his ear, in magpie black and white, Parzival's half-brother, piebald Feirefiz. His companion carried a leather-and-fur cap, and after them came a child with a black-and-white ear band. The child was followed by a man with a salt-and-pepper hat, a black-market magnate suavely making his way along the Macedonian bazaar street in the slushy snow. The troop of soldiers then, with the Tito-star on the prows of their caps. After them a man with a brown-wool Tyrolean hat, front brim turned down, the back brim turned straight up, a silver badge on the side. A little girl hopping by with a bright deerskin hood, lined. A man with a whitish-gray shepherd's hat wound by a red band. A fat woman with a linen-white cook's scarf, fringed in the back. A young man with a multi-layered leather cap, each layer a different color. A man pushed a cart and had a plastic cap over his ears, his chin wrapped in a Palestinian scarf. One man walked along then with a rose-patterned cap, and gradually even the bareheaded passersby seemed to be equipped with head coverings -- hair itself a covering. Child, carried, with a night cap, intersected by woman with slanted, broadly sweeping movie hat: there was no keeping up with the variety. A beauty in glasses walked past with a pale violet Borsalino hat and sauntered around the corner, followed by a very small woman with a towering cable-knit hat she had knitted herself, followed by an infant with a sombrero on its still open fontanel, carried by a girl with an oversized beret made in Hongkong. A boy with a shawl around his neck and ears. An older boy with skier's earmuffs, logo TRICOT. And so on. That beautiful And so on. That beautiful And so on.

--Translated from German by Scott Abbott

First chapters from noteworthy books

by Peter Handke
Our Price: .95
Format:Hardcover, 90pp.
ISBN: 0811213889
Publisher: New Directions Publishing Corporation
Pub. date: September 1998
Other Formats:None



Translated by TESS LEWIS

Copyright   1998 Tess Lewis. All rights reserved.
ISBN: 0-8112-1388-9

Chapter One


On March 23, 1987, a leaf in the evergreen ivy climbing the side of a house on the Felsenberg seemed wilted. When a man's shadow fell on the leaf, it rose up, spreading wings infinitely yellower underneath--the strongest color seen in a long time. Then, a second brimstone butterfly flew around the corner of the house, a twitching shadow on the wall. The butterflies alit, revealing a pair of dark spots on their veined, lemon-yellow wings, one dot above the other; their heads retained something of their former caterpillar states. Throughout the winter they had hung unnoticed in the bushes, rolled up like cigarettes. Next to one of the butterflies, a first bee landed suddenly. Again, as the butterfly flew off, its underwings emitted their deep shine into the world, forcing one's glance back into a look around. This was after the ten o'clock news on the radio. The sun grew warmer, and both butterflies disappeared. By midday, deep in the front garden, the granular snow of the firn began to stir. The grains of snow began to topple as if of their own will. They fell away, rolling to the side, and grew more diaphanous and transparent with each glance. Across the entire blanket of snow and throughout the garden there was a constant, endless jolting, lurching, beginning-to-flow, trickling, and--if one brought one's ear close--a rustling. It was the snow melting. Some of the grains settled on the incline, gleaming under the warm sun like the concave mirrors of tiny cosmic telescopes. At the same time, the blanket of snow sagged visibly, and between the several blades of new grass piercing it. The rocket of a first crocus flashes up, still half-shrouded in leaves, the deep blue tip aimed towards the equally blue outer space. Seen through a magnifying glass, the crystallized firn was full of soot. These were the events of the morning of March 23, 1987.

Chapter Two


I spent the night of the 22nd to the 23rd of August, 1987, in the central Istrian town of Pazin, in a hotel on the edge of a rocky precipice, a so-called "sink-hole," at the foot of which, far below, Dante is said to have entered into the Inferno. Someone was still playing the accordion after midnight, and a small owl, so timid it seemed tame, hooted continuously in the dark pines along the sink-hole's rim. Then in the darkest night, a rooster crowed, reminding me of the enormous bumble-bee I had seen the day before, stirring up pale bluebells. I remembered the cicada in an apple tree and St. Martin on a fresco in Beram's solitary church. I had always been offended by this saint who cut his robe in half, but now, for the first time, I began to understand him. Towering above the poor, naked beggar who smiles like a half-wit, St. Martin divided his cloak and, reaching down from his horse, draped it around the man's shoulders. The enormous saint looks down sorrowfully upon such "conditions."

The next day in Pazin was a Sunday. Tides of silence washed over the city so that the gurgling of pigeons reigned high up in the trees, especially in the cedars. At the bottom of another sink-hole (the area is known for these vertical pits), I came upon dead trees standing in a lake covered with pea-green algae. Later, at the train station, more than a few of the young Yugoslavian rices appeared disfigured, if only because of the gaps between their teeth, and I thought of the petrifying, Medusa-like gaze which I myself, already exposed, sometimes used unconsciously or even against my will, in order to expose others. I knew I had to overcome this habit completely, to breathe it away, to breathe it out of myself--or, rather, to veil it so that I could perceive things even more clearly. (So I reflected under the chestnut trees outside the Pazin station, remembering the beautiful night in the hotel and the first rays of sun on the window frame.) Now the noise--yes, noise--of the pigeons high in the trees, like the sound of conversations below, became decisive, urgent, as if up in the treetops they believed themselves unique. From the trees dropped a snowfall of small white feathers. With a hoarse caw, one of the pigeons flew down and minced around the station square before fluttering majestically straight back up into the leaves, its feathers whispering like a shaken sack of straw. The pigeons were very light in color with a dark, emblematic stripe on their tailfeathers. Their dainty heads were even a shade lighter. They were convinced they were unique. Where were Pazin's sparrows? I watched a circle of them whirl up from the dust--a seventh-day creation. Nearby, a pigeon, with a bobbing head and a piece of straw in its beak, left the sparrows' realm suddenly and was soon just a shadow in the sunny foliage. Large and small flies, previously unnoticed on the sticky oil-cloth in the station buffet, were lapping up spilled drops.

Were those flocks of birds in the crannies of the sink-hole walls also pigeons, illuminating its depths with their bright wings? Similarly, a single white butterfly's wobbling search for its mate intensified the green darkness under the chestnut trees. Meanwhile, waiting passengers (who had become quite numerous) stood around under the pigeons' din like a collection of unnecessary things.

So I have decided to skip my train and to stay in Pazin with Sunday's pigeons. Then occurred the first of that day's so typically Yugoslavian coincidences: I saw a child with a white eye-patch--the train to Pula has arrived--just as, simili modo, last night I saw a slender young girl wearing a bright frayed bandage on her knee, a bandage that seemed almost a decoration because of its fringes and the charming way the girl straightened her knee. (The train to Pula has departed.) And I also noticed the station's pillars, here in Pazin, slender, round and fluted in the old Austrian style. A small flag pole stuck out of the cornice under the enormous main capital. The sparrows had become barely visible, mere whistling shadows over the asphalt. The train to Dirska pulled in, the one I had previously planned on taking. Passengers scrambled to the train's doors despite its having stopped. Soon, this train too had gone, leaving behind only one woman in a black dress with a white aster on her purse. The pigeons, momentarily quiet, now hesitantly began, one at a time, to echo the train's whistle. I took my time, of which I had plenty.

Many of Pazin's houses still bear traces of the original gables. The former trapezoids of these Istrian houses--squares topped with triangles--have been expanded and filled in to form rectangles. Meanwhile, the pigeons with their dark, guttural cooing completely blanketed the entire town; and the many holes in the railroad worker's blue shirt turned out merely to be groups of flies, which were doubtless squatting all over my back as well; wasps, burrowing in the garbage, scared off whirls of the flies. My head ached from seeing and hearing so much. One pigeon, just landed, let its dark pinions hang down from the lighter colored feathers of one wing as it circled and pecked, and then let the pinions hang from the other wing, looking like some kind of amphibious vehicle--then it hopped down into the gutter. The back of its neck gleamed quite brightly as it flew up into the station's canopy. Nothing airier than the wafting breezes, I thought. And then, in the noonday stillness, all the roosters in this small town began to crow at once. A cat slunk into the station square, and although small, began stalking the flighty birds like a lion. In the alley leading down to the sink-hole was a rooster with a glowworm in its beak. I freed the glowworm which sat stunned a while before finally raising its head. In a garden near the hole, a turkey in a wire cage raised its head in the same way. Then, finally, near the sea on this Sunday evening, a palm frond shuddered like a thousand birds. 

Die Geschichtlichkeit der anderen Geschichte

Zu Peter Handkes Orts- und Zeittafeln

Von Christian LuckscheiterRSS-Newsfeed neuer Artikel von Christian Luckscheiter

Besprochene Bücher / Literaturhinweise
Handke-Leser wissen nicht unbedingt mehr, aber sie haben in letzter Zeit ganz schön viel zu tun, vor allem wenn sie nicht nur Handke lesen, sehen und hören wollen. Sagte und schrieb Peter Handke 2003 am Ende seiner Rede zur Verleihung der Ehrendoktorwürde durch die Universität Salzburg noch, dass er sein 'Idiotentum' dort das letzte Mal öffentlich gezeigt habe und man ihn vor Gericht bringen könne, wenn er noch einmal im Leben öffentlich auftreten sollte ("Einige Anmerkungen zum Da- und zum Dort-Sein"), so war er allein in diesem Jahr unter anderem bereits als Gast des ZDF-Nachtstudios relativ ungereizt mit Volker Panzer plaudernd zu erleben oder als Interviewter im Magazin "Cicero" zu lesen.
Zusammen mit den Büchern der letzten Monate von Handke und um ihn herum - über 500 Seiten "morawische Nacht", der Briefwechsel mit Alfred Kolleritsch, Hans Höllers Rowohlt-Monografie, "wunschloses Unglück" im Großdruck, Prolegomena zum Peter-Handke-Wörterbuch, die von Ulla Berkéwicz herausgegebene Gedichtsammlung "Leben ohne Poesie", Gespräche mit Michael Kerbler, noch einmal "Noch einmal für Thukydides" als Band 1421 in der Bibliothek Suhrkamp und über 600 Seiten Orts- und Zeittafeln (und nicht zu vergessen das jeweils enorme mediale Echo) - ergibt das eine Zeichenmenge, in der man sich und den Überblick leicht verlieren kann.
Da passiert es dann eben auch, dass etwa Hubert Spiegel in der "FAZ" davon schreibt, Handke gehe es künftig darum, das literarische Lebenswerk "zum Ausklingen zu bringen". Das ist erstaunlich angesichts der (nicht nur) derzeitigen medialen Präsenz, vor allem ist es aber nicht genau genug. Im Interview mit "Cicero" sagt Handke lediglich, dass ihm "manchmal der Gedanke" komme, das Lebenswerk zum Ausklingen zu bringen.
Diese Berichtigung mag nun ein wenig erbsenzählend anmuten, soll jedoch einmal mehr auf das Problem hinweisen, wie generell ungenau Feuilletonisten meist lesen müssen und wie sie dadurch auch immer neues Feuilleton (und öffentliche Meinung) produzieren. Problematischer wird es, wenn jemand wie Hubert Spiegel anscheinend für die 'Werktags'-Ausgabe der "FAZ" das (Meinungs-)Monopol auf Handke-Besprechungen hat und also - angesichts seines wohl von Marcel Reich-Ranicki übernommenen Vorurteils - meist schon vor dem ersten Rezensions-Satz klar ist, dass hier nur ein weiterer Verriss zu lesen sein wird, der auf (böswillig?) ungenauer und selbstherrlicher Lektüre zurückzuführen ist.
Daher ist es besonders schade, dass in dem zum Blättern und zum Hineinlesen sehr einladenden Sammelband "Meine Ortstafeln. Meine Zeittafeln. 1967-2007" gar nicht alle von Handke bisher veröffentlichten Essays zu finden sind. Einige wurden außen vor gelassen, wie zum Beispiel der kleine Text "Marcel Reich-Ranicki und die Natürlichkeit" aus "Ich bin ein Bewohner des Elfenbeinturms", geschrieben 1968. Hier zeigt Handke schon früh sehr genau auf, mit welch eingeschränktem Literaturbegriff und -verständnis Reich-Ranicki arbeitet: "Formalistische Methoden beim Schreiben lässt er [Reich-Ranicki] nicht gelten. Er hält sie nicht für Probleme der Literatur, sondern für private Schwierigkeiten des Literaten, mit denen 'der Leser' nicht behelligt werden möchte. Das erkennbare Machen von Literatur verniedlicht Reich-Ranicki, indem er dafür das beliebte Wort 'Basteln' verwendet; auch 'Laborkunst' ist ein gängiges Automatenwort; Argumenten, die ihm entgegenhalten, dass das Basteln nur eine Suche nach noch nicht eingängig, das heißt, natürlich gewordenen Methoden ist, der Wirklichkeit des jeweils Schreibenden habhaft zu werden, begegnet er mit dem einfachen Hinweis auf bestimmte Autoren, die schreiben, wie ihnen der Schnabel gewachsen ist: diese Autoren strafen, so meint er, die Pseudoavantgardisten, die Totengräber der Literatur, mit ihren gut gewachsenen Schnäbeln Lügen. Dass auch die realistische Methode nicht Natur, sondern gemachtes Modell ist, dass sie am Beginn ihrer Verwendung gekünstelt und gebastelt gewirkt hat und nur durch den Gebrauch und die Gewöhnung natürlich erscheint, will er nicht merken."
Es ist auch editionsphilologisch unverständlich, warum diese bis heute gültige Kritik, die Hubert Spiegel gerne lesen würde, nicht mit abgedruckt worden ist - weil Reich-Ranicki für Handke keine seiner Ortstafeln ist? Wenn man schon eine Gesamtausgabe herausgibt, warum werden dann nicht auch alle bisher publizierten Essays versammelt, zumal einige der Texte hier bereits zum vierten Mal abgedruckt sind? Wenn es also anscheinend nicht darauf ankam, eine Essay-Gesamtausgabe im Rahmen eines Gesamtwerk-Gedankens herauszubringen, in der die Texte erscheinen, weil sie versammelt sein sollen, sondern weil sie nach wie vor als lesenswert gelten, dann hätte man aber bei einigen der Texte, vor allem bei den politischen aus der Zeit um 1970, ebenfalls noch mal überlegen können, ob es sich über ein historisches Interesse hinaus wirklich lohnt, sie zum wiederholten Male zu veröffentlichen.
Außerdem könnte die zitierte Kritiker-Kritik auf Handke selbst zurückgebogen werden: "Peter Handke und die Natürlichkeit". Denn dass beispielsweise auch das von Handke so geliebte 'bloße' Gehen in der Landschaft letztlich extrem voraussetzungsreich ist und etwa im Vergleich zum Bergfahrradfahren - so brutal es einem vorkommen mag - eben nicht Natur, sondern geschichtlich bedingt ist und vor Jahrhunderten eben so undenkbar war wie es allmählich vielleicht wieder vergessen wird, übersieht er.
Warum ist Handke so sehr von der Einsicht in den Konstruktionscharakter jeder Literatur abgerückt hin zur Behauptung der Naturhaftigkeit dessen, was er "schaut"? Versuche, über diese Behauptungen mit ihm im offenen Gespräch nachzudenken, wurden und werden von ihm jedoch, wie die Interviews zeigen, meist abgeblockt. Er möchte, so scheint es, seine eigenen 'Denkschablonen' nicht sehen. Von der Literatur erhoffte er sich mal (und erhofft er sich wohl noch), dass sie alle endgültig scheinenden Weltbilder zerbricht. Nicht nur die Essays zeigen, dass er selbst nicht um ein solches starkes Weltbild herumgekommen ist (wer wäre das allerdings je gänzlich?). Auf der einen Seite macht das vor allem seine Essays zur Literatur so lesenswert, weil die besprochene Literatur vielleicht nur mit einem relativ sicheren Urteilsmaßstab auf eine Weise erscheinen kann, dass man große Lust dazu bekommt, sofort in die Bibliothek zu gehen und diese Bücher zu lesen. Dadurch, dass für Handke aber klar festzustehen scheint, was man beispielsweise mit der Sprache anstellen darf und was nicht, dass etwa Begründungsworte - "weil", "obwohl" et cetera - abgelehnt werden, also auch von ihm wiederum nur ein bestimmtes Bild der Welt zugelassen wird, gerät auf der anderen Seite die Lektüre so mancher seiner Essays zur Mühsal. Durch das Fehlen oder den Abbruch der Reflektion seiner eigenen Annahmen werden viele Aussagen oft ärgerlich apodiktisch, was Handkes literarischem Werk wenig entspricht.
Das Apodiktische lässt sich jedoch sicherlich auch auf den "Versuch des Exorzismus der einen Geschichte durch eine andere", wie ein Text in "Noch einmal für Thukydides" heißt, zurückführen - auf den Versuch (und das Programm) Handkes, im Reich der Literatur eine friedvolle Geschichte zu erzählen, fern des apokalyptischen Grauens, fern der Kriege, fern aber auch von den Zwängen, mit denen die (kollektive) Geschichte und Sprachbenutzung dem Einzelnen die Freiheit eines freien Seins-Entwurfs und eines eigenen Blicks auf die Dinge verstellt. Für solch einen Versuch scheint es unerlässlich, sich das Wissen beziehungsweise die Ahnung anzumaßen, was dem Menschen und der Natur und der Erde angemessen ist und was nicht.
Zwar scheitert dieser Versuch. Das lässt sich schon allein daran erkennen, wie sehr die Geschichte, vor allem der Zweite Weltkrieg und die Shoah, das Gesamtwerk Handkes als Hintergrund bis heute prägt. Immer wieder droht selbst das friedvollste Bild von der Geschichte durchbrochen zu werden, und nicht selten zerbricht es. Doch statt des Hinausbeschwörens der einen Geschichte soll am Ende dann sogar eine Verstärkung dieser einen durch den Kontrast mit der Erzählung einer anderen Geschichte, derjenigen, die Handke entwirft, gelungen sein.
Inwiefern die Kinder von Izieu, wie Handke schreibt, "erst recht" dadurch schreien, dass der Ort ihres Abtransports in das Vernichtungslager Birkenau ein halbes Jahrhundert später von ihm als friedlicher Ort beschrieben wird, an dem der Sommersonntagswind bläst und ein kleiner blauer Falter sich im Halbkreis dreht, ist eine Frage, die je nach Beantwortung Handke zum skandalösen oder zum bedeutenden Schriftsteller werden lässt.
Die kleinen Epopöen in "Noch einmal für Thukydides" sind in ihrer Anmut und ihrer Aufmerksamkeit für Details in der deutschsprachigen Literatur der letzten Jahrzehnte eine Besonderheit. An der Geschichtlichkeit, der geschichtlichen Bedingtheit (des Denkens) jeder anderen Geschichte ist allerdings, egal wie man Handke liest, wenig zu zweifeln.


Peter Handke: Meine Ortstafeln Meine Zeittafeln. Essays 1967-2007. 
Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt a. M. 2007. 
624 Seiten, 25,00 EUR.
ISBN-13: 9783518419472

Peter Handke: Noch einmal für Thukydides. 
Suhrkamp Verlag, Frankfurt a. M. 2007. 
110 Seiten, 11,80 EUR.
ISBN-13: 9783518224212

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