The ongoing saga of Handke's Heine Prize

So now they took the prize away from Handke. The city councellors of Düsseldorf decided to save their cultural-political butts & play it pc. Here a few links to the current installment of the Heine-Handke “scandal,” via those nice people at signandsite:

Heinrich Heine Prize for Peter Handke revoked

After being selected as this year’s winner of the coveted Heinrich Heine Prize of the City of Düsseldorf (more here and here), Austrian author Peter Handke has now been told he will not receive the award after all. After heated public criticism, the Düsseldorf City Council has announced it will revoke the prize.

Writing in Die Tageszeitung, Gerrit Bartels roundly criticises the decision to revoke the prize, saying that the “eternal Peter Handke reflex” had led to things being handled in a slipshod way. “Certainly, Handke’s stubbornness and his statements on Milosevic’s behalf are amply disconcerting. But one should also try to understand why Handke has consistently got so carried away and stuck in his ideas. Maybe then you can at least see what he’s trying to get at. In the best democratic tradition people have to be able to accept that someone like Peter Handke should win the Heinrich Heine Prize.”

Also in Die Tageszeitung, Wiglaf Droste writes: “Of course it’s possible that Peter Handke has got a screw loose. If you go on a search for the truth, you can also get lost along the way. But anyone that believes they automatically have truth on their side just because they belong to the overwhelming majority should not be listened to in the first place. A writer has every right to his own view of the world. Telling him to be more media-friendly is tantamount to seeking to abolish the writing profession.”

Thomas Steinfeld, head of the literary desk at the Süddeutsche Zeitung (where Peter Handke’s call for “Justice for Serbia” launched the heated debate around Handke’s support for Serbia and Milosovic), reacts angrily to the decision by the Düsseldorf City Council: “Thats not how things are done. The mayor of Düsseldorf can’t ring up Peter Handke and say he’ll get the Heinrich Heine Prize this year, if just a few days later the City Council says no, on second thoughts he won’t win it after all. That’s not how things are done. The former historian, museum director and now politician Christoph Stölzl can’t be member of a literary jury and then – as soon as a democratic decision meets with public criticism – go around saying the person who won wasn’t his man. That’s not how things are done. And now all manner of politicians are piping up and calling the decision ‘a poor choice’, ‘unthinkable’ and ‘insensitive’, while leaving no one in any doubt that they’ve never read anything Peter Handke has written on the subject. That’s not how things are done.”

Tilman Krause of Die Welt however applauds the intervention of the Dusseldorf city council: “What luck that at least the policitians in this country have some sense!”

Handke himself has now joined the debate in a short article entitled “What I did not say” in the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung: “I have never denied or played down, not to speak of sanctioned, any of the massacres in Yugoslavia from 1991 – 1995.” Handke continues that although he is often criticised for having one of the characters in his play “Die Fahrt im Einbaum” (the voyage in the dugout) defend the Serbs, “the truth is that in the play (page 65), one figure says: ‘You know it was we who protected you from the Asian hordes for centuries. And without us you’d still be eating with your fingers. Who was it that introduced the knife and fork to the Western world?’ But: is it necessary to point out that this is a parody? or that this minor character’s name is ‘Irrer‘ (Madman)?”
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    here are several useful links to work about peter handke
    + 12 subsites, to prose, drama, film, etc

    Member Seattle Psychoanalytic Institute and Society


    “Sryde Lyde Myde Vorworde Vorhorde Vorborde” [von Alvensleben]

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