Slow Homecoming Additional Summary

Peter Handke


(Critical Survey of Literature for Students)

The Long Way Around. The geologist Sorger is doing research in the vicinity of a small Indian village in Alaska. He knows few people there: his friend and fellow scientist Lauffer, and an Indian woman with whom he has a relationship. At first he and the woman keep their affair secret. However, they gradually allow their relationship to be apparent to others. The time Sorger has in Alaska is limited. He returns to his house in an unnamed university town in California. Sorger has a close relationship with a neighbor family. On his way eastward, Sorger stops in Denver to visit an old friend. The discovery that this friend died makes Sorger rethink his relationship with his siblings. In New York, Sorger meets a man by chance who, despite all their differences, vaguely reminds Sorger of himself. Sorger’s movement, both physically and emotionally, is toward Europe. At the end, Sorger’s plane touches down onto European soil.

The Lesson of Mont-Sainte-Victoire. The narrator travels to the Provence area of France. Thanks to his appreciation of the paintings by Paul Cézanne, he views the highway, in all its banality, as pure color. He recalls other journeys, to Yugoslavia and in Upper Austria. He travels to Mont-Sainte-Victoire, which Cézanne painted. Near Puyloubier he encounters a large mastiff, and the fear that this animal represents is enough to make him forget all color and form in the landscape. Elsewhere a man threatens his life, then they walk a short way together. In a café on the Cours Mirabeau he sees a scene with card players that is almost exactly like a Cézanne painting. His expedition to the mountain gives him the justification for writing The Lesson of Mont-Sainte-Victoire. He becomes fascinated with the unity of the “thing-image-script” as he learns about it through studying...

(The entire section is 750 words.)