Crossing the Sierra de Gredos (Magill's Literary Annual 2008)
Peter Handke’s reputation as the eccentric genius and enfant terrible of Austrian literature began with the publication of his 1968 play Kaspar, in which he shows the legendary nineteenth century foundling Kaspar Hauser as being manipulated by “prompters” who profess to teach him language skills as a path to becoming an individual. In reality, however, they turn him into a conformist puppet, indistinguishable from the Kaspar clones who populate the stage as the curtain closes. Crossing the Sierra de Gredos, nearly forty years later, picks up the theme of manipulation and de-individualization, but focuses on images rather than on language as the tools of manipulation.
The role of the villainous prompters and insinuators in Kaspar is assumed by the contemporary media in Crossing the Sierra de Gredos, a switch that stems from the attacks on Handke by scholars, politicians, and journalists for the past decade, prompted by Handke’s defense of former Serbian leader Slobodan Miloevi (1941-2006), who was charged with genocide and crimes against humanity for Serbian atrocities committed in Kosovo. Handke, who has Slavic roots himself, still insists that the media selectively demonized the Serbian president while at the same time making light of similar atrocities committed by Croats and other ethnic groups of the...
(The entire section is 1792 words.)
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Bibliography (Magill's Literary Annual 2008)
Harper’s Magazine 315 (August, 2007): 81-82.
Kirkus Reviews 75, no. 9 (May 1, 2007): 412.
Library Journal 132, no. 7 (April 15, 2007): 72.
The New York Times Book Review 156 (August 19, 2007): 8.
Publishers Weekly 253, no. 14 (April 2, 2007): 31.
The Village Voice 52, no. 27 (July 4, 2007): 45.
World Literature Today 77, no. 1 (April/June 2003): 77-78.
(The entire section is 36 words.)