Peter Handke – Der Große Fall

I’m reading Peter Handke’s new book, Der Große Fall. It’s ‘about’ (except, of course, that it isn’t…but it is) the wanderings of an actor who doesn’t want to act any more, but who nonetheless ends up acting. Beyond that (or rather not ‘beyond’, since it is the beyond, or lack thereof, which is in question), it’s a fictional discoursing upon fictionality and its (im)possibility in a world without Revelation. The following sentence, which borders on the self-parodic, captures it nicely: “To him it had become, as they say, second nature, or was that nature tout court?” I’ve never read Handke before, though I’ve read a fair bit about him. The book is living up to my expectations. I’ve decided to translate this short passage to give an idea of what it’s like:

He [the actor] belonged to those who never especially prepared for anything, and that was true even beyond his profession. Confronted with a part, he sooner intensified his idleness, sought out distractions, let it come as it came, let it happen. In that respect perhaps he did prepare himself.

It’s full of those little reflexive shocks, where the coextension of fiction and world suddenly raises itself to consciousness; or, rather, where consciousness itself is suddenly grasped as the ungraspable seam which divides and unites them.

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8 thoughts on “Peter Handke – Der Große Fall

  1. michael roloff says:

    i am about to update it and will let you know later in the day the exact
    link. i take it you read DER GROSSE FALL in German, it looks to me who
    has not his copy yet as though Handke is having a lot of fun with his once
    and perhaps still today thrice daily impulse so “run amok.” also the joke, about the book having been written in “great falls, monana” a joke that swept the spiegel reviewer into ignominy. until now, after all, these location signatures have always been the case. xx michael r.

    1. Daniel Hartley says:

      I’m actually still reading the book: I’m using it to help me improve my German. I just wanted to publicise it a bit amongst English readers so that they could look forward to the translation! And also to invite comments or further reading suggestions. I haven’t come across the Spiegel interview, but I’ll try and read it over the weekend when I have more time. Until then, yes, do me let me know the link. Best, Daniel.

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