There will be religious readers who, mistakenly, find the religious references in this new text inspiring.
I too find them inspiring, as I tried to show in the previous post. I hope that response is not mistaken.
What saves this and many other of Peter's texts for me is that he's aesthetically religious, not spiritually religious. He finds his meaning in consciously constructed forms. Thus the importance of the priest's claim just cited by Michael that he too is an actor.
I've tried to think this through in an essay that begins as follows:
Recreating The Self: Stations of the Cross in Peter Handke’s The Left-Handed Woman
Surrounded by a high, crumbling, brick-and-wood wall, the graveyard is on the west side of the former monastery. With little trouble we locate Maria Handke's welltended grave, damp today from the rain. Over the church's massive front door hangs a statue of Mary, her foot balanced delicately on the neck of a fine green dragon. We swing open the worm-eaten door and enter a working church housed in a partial ruin. Oak pews shine darkly with woodwax and use. Altar rugs cover platforms of unpainted pine. The scent of mildew. Pyramidal piles of fine plaster dust gather at the base of disintegrating walls.
Inside the entrance, German and Slovenian signs give directions to the confessional. German-language pamphlets are stacked on a table to the left and a table to the right displays similar pamphlets in Slovenian. Naive paintings of the fourteen stations of the cross have Slovenian captions: "1. Statio Jesus je k'smerti obsojen."
Fat little red prayer books (Gotteslob). Red, gold, and purple bookmarks dangle from each volume. Leafing through one I find the stations of the cross. The book declares itself "Eigentum der Kirche" (Property of the Church). I decide that is a misnomer and slip the book into my pocket (actually, Zarko's pocket; he has loaned me a good wool jacket for the trip). We leave the church and step out again into the dripping rain.
Abbott and Radakovic, Ponavljanje (Belgrade, 1994)
The mystical is the mind's beginning and at the same time hinders its further development. Peter Handke (Geschichte des Bleistifts)
Everyone experiences the biblical stories, but without the events; everyone travels at some time to Emmaus, but nothing approaches one except -- powerful emptiness Peter Handke (Phantisien der Wiederholung)
I seek order in the right form. As opposed, perhaps, to a religious or faithful person I must find a new form in each of my works.
Peter Handke (Interview with Löffler)
While the protagonist of Peter Handke's The Left-Handed Woman rests with her son during a hike up a low mountain near their home, she tells him that years ago she saw some paintings by an American: "’There were fourteen of them. They were supposed to be the Stations of the Cross -- you know, Jesus sweating blood on the Mount of Olives, being scourged, and so on. But these paintings were only black-and-white shapes -- a white background and criss-crossing black stripes. The next-to last station -- where Jesus is taken down from the cross -- was almost all black, and the last one, where Jesus is laid in the tomb, was all white. And now the strange part of it: I passed slowly in front of the pictures, and when I stopped to look at the last one, the one that was all white, I suddenly saw a wavering afterimage of the almost black one’" (138). Although the woman's description of the paintings is inexact in several respects (most notably in that all of the stripes or "zips" are vertical in the actual series), she clearly means Barnett Newman's "Stations of the Cross: Lema Sabachthani," now in the National Gallery in Washington, D.C. (In April of 1966, while Handke was in Princeton, New Jersey for the meeting of the Gruppe 47, Newman's series of fourteen paintings was being exhibited at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York City.) The afterimage the woman experiences while viewing the last two paintings in this series is given an immediate counterpart in Handke's story when, after having taken a photo of his mother on the mountain with treetops and the sky behind her, the boy sits in the bathtub with her and says: "'I still see the trees on the mountain'" (139).
These parallel, contiguous descriptions of image and afterimage link events of the story with the stations of the cross. In this context, the story of Marianne's decision to leave her husband Bruno and of her subsequent attempts to construct a new self takes on the shape and color of the Christian Via Dolorosa. Various narrative structures support this identification, as do several specific references linking Marianne and Jesus Christ.
Most strikingly, a fourteen-part structure underlies the entire story. . . . references to day's end and beginning divide the narrative into fourteen distinct days (other, intermediate days pass with no mention).
Repeating this structure, the narrator's "translation" of "The Lefthanded Woman" . . . which appears in the narrative immediately preceding the hike up the mountain and which reads like an oblique description of Marianne's life, has fourteen clearly distinguishable parts, several of which correspond to events in the story.
............ the rest of the essay here: