THE INNERWORLD OF THE OUTERWORLD OF THE INNERWORLD by Peter Handke

THE INNERWORLD OF THE OUTERWORLD OF THE INNERWORLD

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KIRKUS REVIEW

To hell with prosody and metaphor. After Wittgenstein, who needs them? Not Handke, the young Austrian avant-gardist known here for his plays (Kaspar was most recently produced in New York) and novels (Short Letter, Long Farewell, KR, p. 698; The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, 1972). Instead, he depends on the philosophical nature of language as a reality construct to delight and startle his readers. These are really neither poems, nor fictions, nor even prose-poems, but more like lists -- litanies of the distinctions and ambiguities in form. Or just word games. ""Abstraction of the Ball that Fell in the River"" tells that story ten times over, from different points of view and the ""poetry"" is all in the angle of vision. ""Conditions of Ownership"" explores the subjectivity inherent in the word ""my"" -- as opportunity to oppress, to assert oneself, or to compromise. ""Color Theory,"" the report of a kidnapped child trying to trace his path and identify his abductor, lists the colors of what he saw on his journey and implicitly asks how we know what is meant by those adjectives. Among his ""Historical Lies"" are that ""the toothless are toothless; that streets are streets; that ways are ways; that words like 'ruckus' and 'gefilte fish' mean RUCKUS and GEFILTE FISH."" Two poems suggest death and fright by lengthily denying them -- a mocking existential interpretation of the empirical quandary of our too-private, monadic lives. These playful experiments -- not nearly as daunting as they sound and fun besides -- are designed to induce almost subliminally the non-linguistic experience of awareness (like it says in the title). A best-seller in Germany where it was published in 1969, and sure to attract attention here. Who could ignore the enfant terrible who first offended his audience at the age of 22 with the staging of Publikumsbeschimpfung (Public Insult)?

Pub Date: Dec. 1st, 1974
Publisher: Seabury