Author: Peter Handke
Publisher: The Last Books
Language: English
Pages: 352
Size: 10.8 x 17.6 cm
Weight: 294 g
Binding: Softcover
ISBN: 9789491780004
Availability: In stock
Price: €12.00
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Product Description

Translated by Ralph Manheim

First German edition published in 1986 by Suhrkamp Verlag
First English edition published in 1988 by Farrar, Straus & Giroux

An English translation of Peter Handke’s 1986 novel Repetition, previously out of print for a quarter of a century.

Edition of 500

“In Repetition, Handke allows the peculiar light which illuminates the space under a leafy canopy or a tent canvas to glisten between words, placed here with astounding caution and precision; in doing so, he succeeds in making the text into a sort of refuge amid the arid lands which, even in the culture industry, grow larger day by day.”
—W. G. Sebald

“In his earliest work … Handke found a way of conveying a state of mind … where words seem to come between you and the world, where nothing coheres or appears natural, and from the vantage-point of which the ease with which other people talk and go about their business seems deeply suspicious. But just as Kafka felt there were moments when, miraculously, a written sentence – even one written by himself – seemed full light, seemed to fill its own space and establish its own rhythm, and when even the whole story seemed mysteriously to stand as solidly in the world as a tree or a rock, so it has been with Handke. He has, in his later work, appeared to make a conscious effort to escape from the debilitating awareness of his own lack of authority or authenticity, and tried to write as though somehow the story were already written, had, in a sense, always been there… Repetition is the triumphant climax of his career so far…
What saves the book from the sort of sentimentality we find in John Berger’s recent work is first of all Handke’s uncanny ability to convey what it is this urge for pattern has to overcome, and secondly, his extraordinary attention to detail, historical, geographical, botanical, and linguistic. (No review can possibly convey the richness of Filip’s meditation on his brother’s two books, or Handke’s magical way with images.)
His narrative … is one of the most dignified and moving evocations I have ever read of what it means to be alive, to walk upon this earth.”
—Gabriel Josipovici

From Repetition (pp. 118–19):

“The previous night, I had taken in the details of the valley, but now I saw them as letters, as a series of signs, beginning with the grass-pulling horse and combining to form a coherent script. I now interpreted this land before my eyes, with the objects, whether lying, standing, or leaning, which rose up from it, this describable earth, as ‘the world’…
And so my further progress in that predawn hour became a deciphering, a continued reading, a transcribing, a silent taking of notes. And I then distinguished two bearers of the world: on the one hand, the earth’s surface that supported the horse, the hanging gardens, and the wooden huts; and on the other hand, the decipherer, who had shouldered these things in the form of their hallmarks and signs. And I literally felt my shoulders broaden in my brother’s too-spacious coat and – because the perception and combination of signs operated as a counterweight to the burden of material things – straighten up as though my deciphering transformed the weight of the earth into a single freely flying word, consisting entirely of vowels, such a word as the Latin Eoae, translatable as ‘At the time of Eos’, ‘At dawn’, or simply, ‘In the morning’.”