Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Handke's Die morawische Nacht

No doubt you've already seen Sign & Sight's excellent coverage of the German Book Prize shortlist. Love German Books, a welcome blog find, had already given a rundown of the longlist. Unfortunately, my welcome was shortened by the impressionistic dismissal of Handke's Die morawische Nacht (Moravian Night?): "Slow-moving autoerotic ego massage". Such a singularly serious writer deserves more than this or nothing at all.

However, everything was redeemed with a link to an English-language review at New Books in German. "Die morawische Nacht is a haunting and wonderful book" it says. It certainly sounds better than the baffling Crossing the Sierra de Gredos.
The story of the night involves a journey, a long circling movement from an enclave that might be Kosovo, through Europe and back to its starting point.


Handke, it can be argued, is one of the defining writers of our time, but it's years since a UK publishing house put out anything by him, and that neglect predates his defiant, obstinate defence of the former Yugoslavia
In fact, it is seventeen years since Methuen published Absence in hardback. There was no paperback. One would have thought Handke's extra-literary notoriety would prompt interest. I wonder if they've even heard of him. Publishers in this country are keen to denounce censorship when it threatens cashing in on Islamophobia yet, when it comes to publishing one of the greatest living writers, silence; censorship is the default position.


  1. Just to link to probably not the most elegant of posts on Degenerate Art, Stephen, specifically relating to your finale of "when it comes to publishing one of the greatest living writers, silence; censorship is the default position."
    To -oh no- quote from myself:
    "Whereas the Nazis made a great noise about the horrors of modernist degenerate art, a little further down the road of time and what is far more effective is simply silence regarding the existence of the more penetrative artistic emanations."

  2. Thanks Andrew, but that link doesn't work. So here's the translation:
    Degenerate Art.

  3. Oops and thanks.

  4. And just to add, what better than book-burning than not having the books to burn in the first place?

  5. AS I communicated already via e-mail, Steve, Scott Abbott and I will conduct a forum discussion on MORAVIAN NIGHT on its U.S. publication, whenever, I would say within the year, and for once we are on top of our subject



Please email me at steve dot mitchelmore at gmail dot com.

Blog Archive


Contact steve dot mitchelmore at Powered by Blogger.