Peter Handke (German pronunciation: [ˈpeːtɐ ˈhantkə]; born 6 December 1942) is an Austrian novelist, playwright, translator, poet, film director, and screenwriter. He was awarded the 2019 Nobel Prize in Literature "for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience." Handke is considered to be one of the most influential and original German-language writers in the second half of the 20th century.
|Born||6 December 1942|
|Education||University of Graz|
In the late 1960s, he earned his reputation as a member of the avant-garde with such plays as Offending the Audience (1966) in which actors analyze the nature of theatre and alternately insult the audience and praise its "performance", and Kaspar (1967). His novels, mostly ultraobjective, deadpan accounts of characters in extreme states of mind, include The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick (1970) and The Left-Handed Woman (1976). Prompted by his mother's suicide in 1971, he reflected her life in the novella A Sorrow Beyond Dreams (1972). A dominant theme of his works is the deadening effects and underlying irrationality of ordinary language, everyday reality, and rational order. Handke was a member of the Grazer Gruppe (an association of authors) and the Grazer Autorenversammlung, and co-founded the Verlag der Autoren publishing house in Frankfurt. He collaborated with director Wim Wenders, leading to screenplays such as The Wrong Move and Wings of Desire.
In 1973, he won the Georg Büchner Prize, the most important literary prize for German-language literature, but in 1999, as a sign of protest against the NATO bombing of Yugoslavia, Handke returned the prize money to the German Academy for Language and Literature. Handke is a controversial figure for his support of the late Serbian president Slobodan Milošević; therefore, the decision to award Handke a Nobel Prize was also debated internationally by a variety of public and academic intellectuals, writers, and journalists.
Early life and familyEdit
Handke was born in Griffen, then in the German Reich's province Gau Carinthia. His father, Erich Schönemann, was a bank clerk and German soldier whom Handke did not meet until adulthood. His mother Maria, a Carinthian Slovene, married Bruno Handke, a tram conductor and Wehrmacht soldier from Berlin, before Peter was born. The family lived in the Soviet-occupied Pankow district of Berlin from 1944 to 1948, where Maria Handke had two more children: Peter's half-sister and half-brother. Then the family moved to his mother's home town of Griffen. Peter experienced his stepfather as more and more violent due to alcoholism.
In 1954, Handke was sent to the Catholic Marianum boys' boarding school at Tanzenberg Castle in Sankt Veit an der Glan. There, he published his first writing in the school newspaper, Fackel. In 1959, he moved to Klagenfurt, where he went to high school, and commenced law studies at the University of Graz in 1961.
After leaving Graz, Handke lived in Düsseldorf, Berlin, Kronberg, Paris, the U.S. (1978 to 1979) and Salzburg (1979 to 1988). Since 1990, he has resided in Chaville near Paris. He is the subject of the documentary film Peter Handke: In the Woods, Might Be Late (2016), directed by Corinna Belz. Since 2012, Handke has been a member of the Serbian Academy of Sciences and Arts. He is a member of the Serbian Orthodox church.
As of early November 2019, there was an official investigation by the relevant authorities into whether Handke may have automatically lost his Austrian citizenship upon obtaining a Yugoslav passport and nationality in the late 1990s.
While studying, Handke established himself as a writer, linking up with the Grazer Gruppe (the Graz Authors' Assembly), an association of young writers. The group published a magazine on literature, manuskripte, which published Handke's early works. Group members included Wolfgang Bauer and Barbara Frischmuth.
Handke abandoned his studies in 1965, after the German publishing house Suhrkamp Verlag accepted his novel Die Hornissen (The Hornets) for publication. He gained international attention after an appearance at a meeting of avant-garde artists belonging to the Gruppe 47 in Princeton, New Jersey, in 1966. The same year, his play Publikumsbeschimpfung (Offending the Audience) premiered at the Theater am Turm in Frankfurt, directed by Claus Peymann. Handke became one of the co-founders of the publishing house Verlag der Autoren in 1969 with a new commercial concept, as it belonged to the authors. He co-founded the Grazer Autorenversammlung in 1973 and was a member until 1977.
Handke's first play, Publikumsbeschimpfung (Offending the Audience), which premiered in Frankfurt in 1966 and made him well known, was the first of several experimental plays without a conventional plot. In his second play, Kaspar, he treated the story of Kaspar Hauser as "an allegory of conformist social pressures".
Handke collaborated with director Wim Wenders on a film version of Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter, wrote the script for Falsche Bewegung (The Wrong Move) and co-wrote the screenplay for Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire) including the poem at its opening and Les Beaux Jours d'Aranjuez (The Beautiful Days of Aranjuez). He also directed films, including adaptations from his novels The Left-Handed Woman after Die linkshändige Frau, and The Absence after Die Abwesenheit.The Left-Handed Woman, was released in 1978 and was nominated for the Golden Palm Award at the Cannes Film Festival in 1978 and won the Gold Award for German Arthouse Cinema in 1980. Leonard Maltin's Movie Guide's description of the film is that a woman demands that her husband leave and he complies. "Time passes... and the audience falls asleep." Handke also won the 1975 German Film Award in Gold for his screenplay for Falsche Bewegung (The Wrong Move). Since 1975, Handke has been a jury member of the European literary award Petrarca-Preis.
In 1977, reviewing A Moment of True Feeling, Stanley Kauffmann wrote that Handke "is the most important new writer on the international scene since Samuel Beckett." John Updike reviewed the same novel in The New Yorker and was equally impressed, noting that "there is no denying his [Handke's] willful intensity and knifelike clarity of evocation. He writes from an area beyond psychology, where feelings acquire the adamancy of randomly encountered, geologically analyzed pebbles." The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung described him as "the darling of the West German critics." Hugo Hamilton stated that, since his debut, Handke "has tested, inspired and shocked audiences." Joshua Cohen noted that Handke "commands one of the great German-language prose styles of the post-war period, a riverine rhetoric deep and swift and contrary of current," while Gabriel Josipovici described him, "despite reservations about some of his recent work," as one of the most significant German-language writers of the post-war era. W. G. Sebald was inspired by Handke's intricate prose. In an essay on Repetition, he wrote about "a great and, as I have since learned, lasting impression" the book made on him. "I don’t know," he lauded, "if the forced relation between hard drudgery and airy magic, particularly significant for the literary art, has ever been more beautifully documented than in the pages of Repetition." Karl Ove Knausgård described A Sorrow Beyond Dreams as one of the "most important books written in German in our time." The book and its author were also praised in Knausgård's My Struggle.
In 1996, Handke's travelogue Eine winterliche Reise zu den Flüssen Donau, Save, Morawa und Drina oder Gerechtigkeit für Serbien (published in English as A Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia) created controversy, as Handke portrayed Serbia as being among the victims of the Yugoslav Wars. In the same essay, Handke also criticised Western media for misrepresenting the causes and consequences of the war.
Sebastian Hammelehle wrote that Handke's view of the Yugoslav Wars, which has provoked numerous controversies, was probably romanticized, but that it represented the view of a writer, not a war reporter. The American translator Scott Abbott, who traveled with Handke through Yugoslavia after which numerous essays were published, stated that Handke considered Yugoslavia as the "incredible, rich multicultural state that lacked the kind of nationalisms that he saw in Germany and Austria". Abbott added that Handke viewed the disintegration of country as the disappearance of utopia. Reviewing The Moravian Night, Joshua Cohen stated that Handke's Yugoslavia was not a country, but a symbol of himself, a symbol of literature or the "European Novel". Volker Hage wrote that The Moravian Night is "extremely cosmopolitan" and connected to the present, while also that the book represents the autobiographical summary of Handke's life as a writer. Tanjil Rashid noted that "Handke’s novels, plays and memoirs demonstrate the evil of banality".
After his play Voyage by Dugout was staged in 1999, Handke was condemned by other writers: Susan Sontag proclaimed Handke to be "finished" in New York. Salman Rushdie declared him as a candidate for "International Moron of the Year" due to his "idiocies", while Alain Finkielkraut said that he was an "ideological monster", and Slavoj Žižek stated that his "glorification of the Serbs is cynicism". When Handke was awarded the International Ibsen Award in 2014, it caused some calls for the jury to resign.[who?]
However, disputing such interpretations of his work as listed above as misinterpreted by the English press, Handke has described the Srebrenica massacre as an "infernal vengeance, eternal shame for the Bosnian Serbs responsible." This concern about the imprecision and political nature of language, carries through Handke's view. In a 2006 interview, Handke commented on concerns about the stereotyped language of the media that "knew everything", endlessly recycling words like "the butcher of Belgrade".
Handke’s literary fame was overshadowed in 2006 by his politics. The writer’s public support of Slobodan Milošević, the former president of Yugoslavia who died that year while on trial for genocide and war crimes, caused controversy after Handke spoke at his funeral. Because of this the administrator of the theater Comédie-Française, Marcel Bozonnet, removed Handke's play "Voyage au pays sonore ou L'art de la question" from the forthcoming 2007 schedule. This event once again drew both supportive and critical voices. Renaud Donnedieu de Vabres, the French minister of culture, implicitly criticized Bozonnet's action in a letter addressed to him, and by deciding to invite Handke to the ministry. A petition against the censorship of his work was signed by Emir Kusturica, Patrick Modiano (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2014), Paul Nizon, Bulle Ogier, Luc Bondy and Handke’s compatriot Elfriede Jelinek (winner of the Nobel Prize for Literature in 2004). Handke was subsequently selected to receive that year’s Heinrich Heine Prize, though he refused it before it was to be revoked from him.
In 2013, Tomislav Nikolić, as the then President of Serbia, expressed gratitude saying that some people still remember those who suffered for Christianity, implying that Handke was a victim of scorn for his views, to which Handke replied with explanation, "I was not anyone's victim, the Serbian people is victim." This was said during the ceremony at which Handke received the Gold Medal of Merit of the Republic of Serbia.
In February 2020, Sima Avramović, the president of the commission for decorations of the Republic of Serbia, explained that Handke, for "special merits in representing Serbia and its citizens" as he "wholeheartedly defended the Serbian truth", is being decorated with the Order of the Star of Karadjordje. The current President of Serbia, Aleksandar Vučić, presented recipients on the occasion of the Serbian Statehood Day.
Reactions to the Nobel PrizeEdit
- 1973: Georg Büchner Prize
- 1987: Vilenica International Literary Prize
- 2000: Brothers Karić Award
- 2002: America Award
- 2002: Honorary Doctor, University of Klagenfurt
- 2003: Honorary Doctor, University of Salzburg
- 2008: Thomas-Mann-Preis
- 2009: Franz Kafka Prize
- 2012: Mülheimer Dramatikerpreis
- 2014: International Ibsen Award
- 2018: Nestroy Theatre Prize for Lifetime Achievement
- 2019: Nobel Prize in Literature
- 2020: Order of Karađorđe's Star
- 2021: Order of the Republika Srpska
Handke has written novels, plays, screenplays, essays and poems, often published by Suhrkamp. Many works were translated to English. His works are held by the German National Library, including:
- 1966 Die Hornissen (The Hornets), novel
- 1966 Publikumsbeschimpfung und andere Sprechstücke (Offending the Audience and Other Spoken Plays), play, English version as Offending the Audience and Self-accusation
- 1967 Kaspar, play, English version also as Kaspar and Other Plays
- 1970 Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter (The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick), novel and screenplay of the 1972 film The Goalkeeper's Fear of the Penalty
- 1972 Der kurze Brief zum langen Abschied (Short Letter, Long Farewell), novel
- 1972 Wunschloses Unglück (A Sorrow Beyond Dreams: A Life Story), semi-autobiographical story
- 1973 Die Unvernünftigen sterben aus, play
- 1975 Die Stunde der wahren Empfindung (A Moment of True Feeling), novel
- 1977 Die linkshändige Frau (The Left-Handed Woman), screenplay after his 1976 novel
- 1979 Langsame Heimkehr (Slow Homecoming), start of a tetralogy of stories, including Die Lehre der Sainte-Victoire (1980), Über die Dörfer and Kindergeschichte (1981)
- 1983 Der Chinese des Schmerzes (Across), story
- 1986 Die Wiederholung (Repetition), novel
- 1987 Der Himmel über Berlin (Wings of Desire), screenplay with Wim Wenders
- 1990 Das Wintermärchen, William Shakespeare, German translation by Peter Handke. Première Schaubühne Berlin (1990)
- 1992 Die Stunde, da wir nichts voneinander wußten (The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other)
- 1994 Mein Jahr in der Niemandsbucht. Ein Märchen aus den neuen Zeiten (My Year in the No-Man's-Bay), novel
- 2002 Der Bildverlust oder Durch die Sierra de Gredos (Crossing the Sierra de Gredos), novel
- 2008 Die morawische Nacht (The Moravian Night)
- 2010 Immer noch Sturm (Storm Still), a play about the Slovenian uprising against Hitler in 1945, ISBN 978-3-518-42131-4; first performance: Salzburg Festival 2011
- 2018 Peter Handke Bibliothek. I. Prose, Poetry, Plays (Vol. 1–9), ISBN 978-3-518-42781-1; II. Essays (Vol. 10–11), ISBN 978-3-518-42782-8; III Diaries (Vol. 13–14), ISBN 978-3-518-42783-5
- Abbott, Scott and Žarko Radaković (2013). Repetitions. Brooklyn/NYC: Punctum Books.
- Herwig, Malte (2010). Meister der Dämmerung. Peter Handke. Eine Biografie. München: DVA (official biography in German).
- Höller, Hans (2007). Peter Handke. Reinbek bei Hamburg: Rowohlt.
- Sebald, W. G. (2013). Across the Border: Peter Handke's Repetition. Amsterdam, Sofia: The Last Books.
- "The Nobel Prize in Literature 2019". NobelPrize.org.
- "Peter Handke". Britannica.com.
- "Peter Handke Facts". NobelPrize.org.
- "Peter Handke summary". Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Retrieved 5 February 2022.
- "Chronik 1973". buechnerpreis.de (in German). Retrieved 6 February 2022.
- "Peter Handke / österreichischer Schriftsteller". munzinger.de (in German). Retrieved 11 October 2019.
- Curwen, Thomas (5 January 2003). "Choosing against life". Los Angeles Times. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
- Wenders, Wim. "Peter Handke". wim-wenders.com. Archived from the original on 25 August 2010. Retrieved 16 September 2010.
- Messie und Messias / Wie wohnt eigentlich der Schriftsteller Peter Handke? Ein Hausbesuch. Süddeutsche Zeitung 8 October 2011
- "Peter Handke – Bin im Wald. Kann sein, dass ich mich verspäte..." Filmportal.de (in German). Retrieved 14 May 2017.
- "Outrage in Bosnia, Kosovo over Peter Handke's Nobel prize win". Al Jazeera. 11 October 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
- Ian Traynor: Stand up if you support the Serbs / Austrian writer Peter Handke does, and his pro-Milosevic stance has enraged fellow artists. The Guardian, 21 April 1999
- James Smyth: Handke in Another Tempo wordpress.com
- "Nobel Prize Winner Handke Admits Having Yugoslav Passport". The Associated Press. AP. 8 November 2019. Retrieved 25 November 2019.
- Wakounig, Marija (2018). East Central Europe at a Glance: People – Cultures – Developments. Munster, Germany: LIT Verlag. p. 302. ISBN 978-3-643-91046-2. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
- "Peter Handke / österreichischer Schriftsteller". suhrkamp.de (in German). Suhrkamp Verlag. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
- Hutchinson, Ben (23 August 2011). "Peter Handke's wilful controversies". The Times Literary Supplement. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
- Martin Lüdke: 50 Jahre "Verlag der Autoren" / Mit Enthusiasmus gegründet Deutschlandfunk, 11 March 2019
- 40 Jahre Grazer Autorenversammlung ORF 15 June 2013
- "Petrarca Preis". www.petrarca-preis.de (in German). Retrieved 11 October 2019.
- Kauffmann, Stanley (25 June 1977). "The Novel as Poem". Saturday Review. p. 23.
- Updike, John (26 September 1977). "Discontent in Deutsch". The New Yorker. Retrieved 5 May 2021.
- Marshall, Alex; Schuetze, Christopher (10 December 2019). "Genius, Genocide Denier or Both?". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
- Hamilton, Hugo. "Peter Handke's gentle epic". The Guardian. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
- Cohen, Joshua (30 December 2016). "Peter Handke's Time-Traveling Tale of a Europe in Flux". The New York Times. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
- Josipovici, Gabriel. "Peter Handke's gentle epic". The Times Literary Supplement. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
- Sebald, W. G. (2013). Across the Border: Peter Handke's Repetition (PDF). The Last Books. pp. 2, 8.
- Rashid, Tanjil (6 December 2016). "A Sorrow Beyond Dreams by Peter Handke — memoir, suffering and politics". Financial Times. Retrieved 11 September 2020.
- Knausgård, Karl Ove (2011). Min kamp. Sjette bok. Oslo: Forlaget Oktober. p. 225. ISBN 9788249515127.
- Sage, Adam (29 July 2006). "Theatre boss's dismissal splits artistic community". The Times. Archived from the original on 16 February 2017.
- Hammelehle, Sebastian (10 October 2019). "Die besten Romane und Erzählungen des Nobelpreisträgers". Der Spiegel (in German). Retrieved 11 September 2020.
- Hage, Volker (7 January 2008). "Der übermütige Unglücksritter". Der Spiegel (in German). Retrieved 11 September 2020.
- Zakaria, Rafia (10 December 2019). "Peter Handke and Olga Tokarczuk: Nobel prize winners epitomize our darkest divides". CNN. Retrieved 5 January 2020.
- "Critics condemn 'shameful' Nobel for writer Handke". BBC News. 11 October 2019. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
- "Slavoj Žižek, Salman Rushdie, američki i britanski P.E.N. osudili izbor Petera Handkea, austrijski predsjednik Alexander Van der Bellen smatra da 'imamo još puno toga naučiti od Handkea'". slobodnadalmacija.hr (in Croatian). Slobodna Dalmacija. 11 October 2019. Retrieved 19 May 2020.
- Salman Rushdie (7 May 1999). "For services rendered – to the cause of folly". Balkan Witness. from The Toronto Globe and Mail. Retrieved 17 May 2020.
In the battle for the hotly contested title of International Moron of the Year, two heavyweight contenders stand out. One is the Austrian writer Peter Handke, who has astonished even his work’s most fervent admirers by a series of impassioned apologias for the genocidal regime of Slobodan Milosevic, and who, during a recent visit to Belgrade, received the Order of The Serbian Knight for his propaganda services. Mr. Handke’s previous idiocies include the suggestion that Sarajevo’s Muslims regularly massacred themselves and then blamed the Serbs, and his denial of the genocide carried out by Serbs at Srebrenica. Now he likens the North Atlantic Treaty Organization’s aerial bombardment to the alien invasion in the movie Mars Attacks! And then, foolishly mixing his metaphors, he compares the Serbs’ sufferings to the Holocaust.
- Traynor, Ian (21 April 1999). "Stand up if you support the Serbs". The Guardian. Retrieved 18 November 2019.
This writer, the Austrian, has his very personal style. The very worst crimes get mentioned rather sweetly. And so the reader completely forgets that we're dealing with crimes. The Austrian writer who visited my country found only very proud people there. They proudly put up with everything that happened to them, so much so that in their pride they didn't bother to ask why all this was happening to them.
- Krever at juryen går av, Klassekampen
- "Parlons donc de la Yougoslavie". Libération (in French). Retrieved 4 February 2022.
- "Le discours intégral de l'écrivain autrichien sur la tombe de Milosevic," Libération, 4 May 2006.
- "Künstler-Protest für den Autor". Der Spiegel (in German). 3 May 2006. Retrieved 4 February 2022.
- "Jelinek soutient Peter Handke". Libération (in French). Retrieved 4 February 2022.
- "Nikolić odlikovao Petera Handkea". www.rts.rs (in Serbian). 8 April 2013. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
- Mitchell, Charlotte (10 October 2019). "Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke win Nobel literature prizes". Al Jazeera. Retrieved 12 October 2019.
- "Peter Handke: Critics hit out at Nobel Prize award". BBC. 11 October 2019. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
- "Vučić dodijelio Handkeu Orden Karađorđeve zvijezde". Al Jazeera Balkans (in Serbo-Croatian). 15 February 2020. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
- "Vučić odlikovao Zemana i Handkea". Radio Slobodna Evropa (in Serbo-Croatian). 15 April 2020. Retrieved 20 May 2020.
- "Deutsche Akademie für Sprache und Dichtung – Awards – Georg-Büchner-Preis – Peter Handke". www.deutscheakademie.de. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
- "Kaj imata letošnja Nobelova nagrajenca za književnost s Slovenijo?". Mladina.si.
- "Award Laureates in 2000". www.karicawards.com. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
- "Green Integer Books – America Awards". www.greeninteger.com. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
- Handke wird Ehrendoktor der Universität Klagenfurt Wiener Zeitung. 5 November 2002. Retrieved 10 October 2019
- Peter Handke ist bald zweifacher Ehrendoktor Der Standard. 13 June 2003. Retrieved 10 October 2019
- Künste, Bayerische Akademie der Schönen. "Thomas-Mann-Preis der Hansestadt Lübeck und der Bayerischen Akademie der Schönen Künste". Bayerische Akademie der Schönen Künste (in German). Retrieved 10 October 2019.
- "Společnost Franze Kafky – Cena Franze Kafky". www.franzkafka-soc.cz. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
- "Mülheimer Dramatikerpreis an Peter Handke – derStandard.at". Der Standard (in German). 8 June 2012. Retrieved 11 October 2019.
- Controversial writer wins €300,000 Ibsen award Irish Times. 21 March 2014. Retrieved 27 March 2014
- Peter Handke erhält Nestroy für sein Lebenswerk Die Presse. 10 October 2018. Retrieved 10 October 2018
- Marshall, Alex; Alter, Alexandra (10 October 2019). "Olga Tokarczuk and Peter Handke Awarded Nobel Prizes in Literature". The New York Times. Retrieved 10 October 2019.
- Serbia, RTS, Radio televizija Srbije, Radio Television of. "Uručena odlikovanja povodom Dana državnosti". www.rts.rs. Retrieved 15 February 2020.
- "Peter Handke doputovao u Banjaluku, primio Orden Republike Srpske". N1 (in Serbian). 7 May 2021. Retrieved 7 May 2021.
- "Peter Handke". Katalog der Deutschen Nationalbibliothek (in German). German National Library. Retrieved 16 February 2017.
- Peter Handke / Schriftsteller, Dramatiker, Romancier, Lyriker, Essayist, Übersetzer, Drehbuchautor, Regisseur, Zeichner, Nobelpreisträger / Geboren: 1942, Griffen Deutsche Digitale Bibliothek
- Peter Handke Library of the Free University of Berlin
- List of works
- Peter Handke, Song of childhood (poem) Wim Wenders
- Peter Handke at IMDb
- Karl-Erik Tallmo: "A son's long good-bye" / About the writings of Peter Handke / (until Die Wiederholung, 1986) Svenska Dagbladet, 23 September 1988
- Peter Handke on Nobelprize.org
- Sound recordings with Peter Handke in the Online Archive of the Österreichische Mediathek (Literary readings, interviews and radio reports) (in German)