A Sorrow Beyond Dreams

A Sorrow Beyond Dreams

Paperback Pushkin Collection

By (author) Peter Handke, Translated by Ralph Manheim, Designed by Massimo Kaufmann


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  • Publisher: PUSHKIN PRESS
  • Format: Paperback | 80 pages
  • Dimensions: 120mm x 160mm x 10mm | 100g
  • Publication date: 27 February 2006
  • Publication City/Country: London
  • ISBN 10: 1901285170
  • ISBN 13: 9781901285178
  • Edition: New edition
  • Edition statement: New
  • Illustrations note: port.
  • Sales rank: 186,726

Product description

"My mother has been dead for almost seven weeks: I had better go to work before the need to write about her, which I felt so strongly at her funeral, dies away and I fall back into the dull speechlessness with which I reacted to the nerves of her suicide." So begins Peter Handke's extraordinary confrontation with his mother's death. In a painful and courageous attempt to deal with the almost intolerable horror of her suicide, he sets out to piece together the facts of her life, as he perceives them. What emerges is a loving portrait of inconsolable grief, a woman whose lively spirit has been crushed not once but over and over again by the miseries of her place and time. Yet well into middle age, living in the Austrian village of her birth, she still remains haunted by her dreams.

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Author information

Peter Handke, dramatist, novelist, poet, essayist and writer of screenplays, was born in Griffen, Austria in 1942. Handke has been awarded many literary prizes, including the Schiller Prize in 1972 and the Kafka Prize in 1979, which he turned down. He now lives and works in Paris.

Editorial reviews

A whole new bag for the extravagantly talented Austrian playwright of chutzpah, novelist of sensibility, poet of linguistic games - a wrenching precis of the suicide, in 1972, of Handke's mother. Out of that funk of horror-boredom-unreality that one has come to associate with Handke, emerges the mirror-image trauma of a Slovenic peasant girl who used to play a game based on the stations of a woman's life: Tired/Exhausted/Sick/Dying/Dead; who early in life dismissed all thought of a future; whose budgeted life of hygienic poverty was swallowed up in the anesthesia of Catholic and peasant rites and the bourgeois conviction that she was at least a little "better off than the rest of them." Handke takes her measure in loveless pregnancies and knitting-needle abortions, the (in)frequency of her laughter, the "luxuries" - like a cup of coffee at a tavern or a movie - which she denied herself. Before the onset of an excruciating nervous breakdown, her university-educated son "kept forgetting her, at the most feeling an occasional pang when I thought about the idiocy of her life." And now that "she took her secret with her to the grave" (he says with irony) the constitutional "speechlessness" of the writer that he is leads him directly from the cemetery to his typewriter, to a whole new formulation of those "moments when the mind boggles with horror. . .dream happenings so gruesome that the mind perceives them physically as worms" - a state that to the son is as natural and ordinary as the death wish that sweetened Frau Handke's day to day afflictions. (Kirkus Reviews)