Winking at myself

Michael Hofmann

  • The Weight of the World by Peter Handke, translated by Ralph Manheim
    Secker, 243 pp, £9.95, September 1984, ISBN 0 436 19088 5

The Austrian writer Peter Handke is so successful and so prolific that, reviewing one of his recent novels, his arch-enemy Marcel Reich-Ranicki, literary editor of the Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung, ended by crowing at the fact that Langsame Heimkehr bad failed to make it onto the best-seller list. ‘Let no one say there’s no such thing as progress,’ he concluded. But it has been a long time coming. In 1977, when Das Gewicht der Welt was published by Residenz in Salzburg, it went through two editions and 50,000 copies in a year. By now, with the Suhrkamp paperback thrown in, it must have exceeded a million. The figures are sufficient to dispel any notion that in reading this ‘Journal’ one might be doing something private or privileged.

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