Sunday, April 11, 2010

Marks, Signatures, Authors, Books

Michael Roloff sent an email today with a link to this blog posting about the marks inside an English translation of an early novel by Peter Handke, Short Letter, Long Farewell. "I bought this book for 50p," the blog author writes, and goes on to follow the information written inside the book. He speculates on the name Charles Unwin and travels through London to photograph the building at the address given.

I admired the idea, the quiet nature of the thought, the bookishness of the whole thing.

And I turned to a book of my own, bought for $7.50 in Powell's Bookstore in Portland over a decade ago. It's the first edition of a book Michael eventually translated whose English title became the title of this blog.
Inside the stylish mattblack cover is a single letter followed by a period: P.

I have always supposed this is Peter's elegant and minimal signature.

I had met and translated and travelled with Peter before acquiring this book. I never asked him for his signature in any of the books of his I own. I have them because of what they say, because of the sentences and characters and ideas they make manifest, and not because he inscribed them. Having said that, this little book still feels special to me, takes me back to a moment, perhaps, when someone handed a young author a copy of the book and he made his mark.



you see, within 24 hours at the latest my google handke spider bring me the news. i figured that the charles unwin whose name was inscribed in the book, might be the publisher of that name, but it turns out it wasnt, and the guy who bought the book and put his name in it didn't read it in 20 years and then donated it to charity. ah well.. i am about to start yet another handke blog devoted just to handke news updates, one way of having to avoid updating the news pages on all the scriptmania pages, and will use the handke-trivia blogspot for trivial matters indeed, such as: HANDKE GOT A BUZZCUT! Donated hair to Serbian charity! "A most remarkable prose poem that ought to be read at the rate it was written,
about three pages a day,"
Friedrich Nietzsche


(short version)

“By the way, he told me later, if one refrained from looking directly at a thing and instead just brushed it with a glance, the image could burn itself into one's retina in a way that no purposeful observation or contemplation could."

What a marvelous book! An aging reclusive restaurateur, gripped by the blues, dreams of an orgy, of the return to “womantime” – the erotic connection to the world and time and being seemingly forever: “I want a Bird” the dream begins, elicited by a pornographic fantasy; promptly “a sparrow” alights on a hazel stick lance, “Ich will vögeln” it says in dream language, and there he is: Don Juan! Through the “breach” in the wall.
There was a time that Handke belittled “magic realism” – from his customary envy I imagine – and here he is more magical than any of them in transposing his interiority, his libido, into a playful many layered… into a real motherfucker of a book, oh and what dark sides this imagined Don has. - And not one single reviewer in the English language knows how to read! Don’t burn books, burn reviewers, don’t even bother putting them on a stake! Handke’s subsequent novel, the 2006 Kali is even more ambitious and an equally magical opera film – not that I haven’t half a dozen minor quarrels with Don Juan, oh and isn’t it ever so unfortunate that the second novel after Don Juan, the 2008 Moravian Nights, isn’t as multi-dimensionally composed as the formally so perfect Don Juan, a book that Thomas Mann would have envied! What reading experiences Handke continues to provide!...

ctd. 2:


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.

Malte Herwig said...

Beautifully put, Scott. The value of books is in the words that take off the page rather than those sticking to it. On the other hand, I imagine few of us can resist the aura of something unique like your purloined "P".