Tuesday, August 30, 2016


 Below you will find that Scott Abbott is quite harsh on Winston. I ctd. to enjoy reading her translation, but find that if  i want to quibble i might change one or two sentences on the page; and overall I don't find her work flaccid.
Her problems arise when she has to solve difficult challenges, where she can fail badly as Scott has noted, as have I, in significant instances, which leads me to think on my conclusion about Ms. Winston as an advisor to FSG on what and what not to publish of Handke's 

where I find her intellectually not up to snuff, as I did not when she refused some years ago to engage in  a discussion on her dislike of Handke's actions in the Yugoslavia controversy. My original estimate below still holds. 

Part of the problem also is that translations on this order of difficulty ought to age for a while, cure, giving translators and their ediors time to regard it once or twice more after the work has been given that kind of rest, an impossibility under current commercial condistions. Have the translations double checked by a sympathetic other tranlator, there are bound to be slipups, opportunities for improvement especially in works of great length that make a high demand on the translator. Truism I know, but how to  even achieve these truisms!

"Krishna Winston's translation of Handke's major texts, as compare to Ralph Mannheim's have given me as much, that is identical pleasure to the originals, and I cannot think of higher praise, for this evaluative experiential approach obviates the inevitable miseries that attend the workings of the gloomy grammarians as well as of  nit-picking analists!  MICHAEL ROLOFF, August 2016

There is a significant mis-translation  on page 118 of the U.S edition/ p.218 Germant where Entrueckung is translated as "reverie" and Entrueckingszustaende” as „fuguing” where the mystical "rapture" is called for.  „Reverie” makes no sense as you read the page-length continuity of this elaboration and is the kind of thing an editor who at the very least is familiar with Handke ought to have caught – Handke may be mystical on occasion but he always makes sense,  also within his aesthetics and their logic. 

The passage in question reads „It was an internal danger, and by remaiing conscious of it as a constant threat,  his constant threat, he would perhaps receive a stronger impetus, an equally hearty incentive to keep going. And what was this internal danger? It was as he spelled out for the rest of us , the danger of fallinng into a reverie, sometihng that happened to him from time to time ? And what was so dangerous about that? It was dangerous in two respects: first because by now he could almost, but fortunatly only almost, summon these reveries at will. The far greater danger, the real one, was that in such fugue  states the world showed itself to him on the one hand  as it never did otherwise, even approximatly  - as whole, as a whole – but on the other hand nothing more could be said about it.

The German on its page 218 has „Entrueckheit”: & Entruckungzustaende

What Handke, in this very personal moment, describes, is technically speaking a "disassociation" of a schizo or as Freud so well preferred to call it "paraphrenic" kind whence Handke has these "hic nunc" moments, although here he describes it as the world "being whole." Rapture – the brain is swamped with opiods “Ah, beautiful world.” And momentarily you forget about its past future and presently on-going horrors.

Since we know as of the Gantscher interview, to which Scott Abbot has called attention, that Handke feels he is visited [i dont want to use the word "suffer" but remain descriptive] of autistic episodes – to which  these raptures are/ may be ?? related or are synonimous, “revery” also leads into the entirely wrong passive  direction. Reverienglike a radar is what an analyst does in catching a moment in which to alert an analyzand.

Krishna Winston adds insult to injury by mis-using and translating “Entrueckungszustaende” [states of rapture  -or being “enraptured” - as “fuguing” . "Fugue" is a technical term for a stormy up and down state of mind that can be controlled by lithium and other mood stabilizers and is entirely the inappropriate term in this context which has alterations but not of a stormy or rapid or violent kind. However, “fugueing” describes what Handke experienced, progressivel more violently, until a panic attack landed him in a hospital, in the three long poems in NONSENSE AND HAPPINESS. Don't think it would have helped him at the time to be told that his "stormy" feelings couid also be called fugues! Valium eventually did the trick of controlling the panic.



in krishna winston's translation our darling author has some pheasants early in chapter five 283/4 rumoring around the treetops of his germanische foret. and it surprises me that the great walker has not nearly stepped and been terrified as these groundbirds flutter up shrieking, the sort of thing that you ought to know as well, if you recall your fontane. i FLUSH them out at our reconstituting prairie, a square mile between the horticultural center, near which i reside, and the university's athletic fields, and each time i do it is near heart attack time, though not as terrifyng the time i nearly stepped on a huge mulie whom i had been stalking in the sacramentoes in billy the kid country and he leapt up and there we were eye to eye. i think also in REGLE DE JEU the aristocratic hunters flush not just hares during the fall hare hunt, but ground birds.
what may be rumoring in the harz tree tops in chapter five are perhaps AUERHAHN, a cousin of sorts to the American grouse. as a geological surveyor in alaska in 1960 i used to go hunt for grouse after work. they are way up in the trees, feathery clumps, that move from tree to tree and are difficult to spot but are the best tasting meat in the world because they have been feeding chiefly on berries all summer and fall. in winter there are ptarmigan, that is a ground bird. waiddmanheil  to you all!

however, if you look at the original german  
 it is krishna who puts the pheasant up in the tree tops in the translation, whereas it remains indefinite where they are in the german on page 283/4.
we will take krishna on a hunting trip to alaska, show her some bear scat, have her wrestle a grizzly, then preare a hair piece for her, and feed her some delicious grouse!
 x mr


Why are the books not attracting larger audiences? For one thing, they are not being written by the journalist and creative-writing expert Melchior whose facile denunciation of poetic literature features so prominently in The Moravian Night. Another answer may lie in the American translations.
That day in Chaville Handke handed me a manuscript of the American translation of Mein Jahr in der Niemandsbucht (My Year in the No-Man’s-Bay) and asked for an evaluation. I read a few pages and then pointed out an early sentence that, in the original, ended with “. . . an der Stelle des zwischendurch mich weiterwürgenden ‘Ende’ das Ding Verwandlung.” The translation rendered this as “. . . the ‘end’ that still gagged me now and then was more and more firmly replaced by this metamorphosis thing.” With the throwaway silliness of “this metamorphosis thing,” I told Handke, “Das Ding Verwandlung” (the thing that is metamorphosis) has lost its philosophical tension. And
the carefully wrought, eleven-word original phrase has been bloated to nineteen flaccid words. Your sentences have been flattened, the nuance is gone. How is it possible, I asked, that an editor with Straus’ reputation has no idea what this translation will do to your work?
Translation is risky business, a largely thankless enterprise. Even the best translators make mistakes. Ralph Manheim, for instance, who became the primary translator of Handke’s works after Michael Roloff’s translations of early poetry, plays, and the novel The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, misread the word “Feind” (enemy) as “Freund” (friend) near the beginning of Handke’s novel Repetition. (Nathanial Davis noted the mistake while translating W. G. Sebald’s essay “Across the Border: Peter Handke’s Repetition.”) When Manheim died, Krishna Winston stepped in to translate the third of the essays published as The Jukebox & Other Essays on Storytelling and she has, in sequence, translated Handke’s My Year in the No-Man’s BayOn a Dark Night I Left My Silent House, Crossing the Sierra de Gredos, Don Juan, and now The Moravian Night (while also translating work by Günter Grass, Werner Herzog, and others). Weighing every word and every sentence that comprise the pages of these substantial and demanding works, she has brought into English some of the most important prose written in the last twenty years. The results are mixed, at best.
donjuanIn his 2010 New York Times review of Don Juan, Joel Agee wrote that “Krishna Winston’s translation faithfully conveys what is said, but she tends to simplify and generalize how it is said. This is not a trivial subtraction. Like God and the Devil, Don Juan is in the details.” When the subject of a work is language, when the form of its sentences is the work’s content, when the possibilities of perception as mediated through and affected by language is a theme, simplification and generalization are death-dealing. Agee gave no examples of what he meant. At the risk of alienating readers who will be well rewarded by reading this translation despite its problems, I will point out several troubling passages. Much of Winson’s translation conveys the meaning of the original dutifully and sometimes it does so delightfully. Too often it leaves me scratching my head.
First, a sentence about the experience of time that is all but incomprehensible in the English translation, although it makes clear sense in German:
“Die Sekunden, die sowohl das Zweite, das Folgende bedeuteten als auch das Primäre, das Vorausgegangene; die das Vorausgegangene und das Folgende in sich vereinten.“
In Winston’s translation:
“The seconds that mean both what comes after something, what follows it, as well as the primary thing, the thing that precedes it, that combines what precedes and what follows.”
The translation pays no attention to the semi-colon of the original, and as a consequence misses the fact that it is the seconds “that combined” in the final phrase, not the thing “that combines.” It also misses the past tense, appropriate here as what is called narrative past in German. Here a translation that makes more sense:
“The seconds that meant both the secondary, what follows, as well as the primary, what precedes; that united what precedes and what follows in themselves.”
wenderswrongmoveSentences often lose their muscular shape in Winston’s translation. Compare this sentence of ten words that expands to eighteen in the English: “Dazu paßte, daß er in eine mir vertraute Spielhalle verschwand.” The translation: “What seemed to confirm this supposition was that he disappeared into an arcade with which I was familiar.” With a little attention to the spare nature of the original (a single prepositional phrase, no passive “to be,” no reference to a supposition), a better translation would be: “No surprise that he disappeared into a familiar arcade.” Handke’s sentences can be long and they are often complicated. They are never flabby. The translation is replete with sentences that feel like early drafts.
There are simple mistakes. This sentence, for instance, about the threatened violence at the cemetery visited by the bus-riding pilgrims and the military police there to protect them: “Die Ansammlung da blieb in Distanz ohne eine gezogene Waffe.” Translation: “The gathering kept its distance without even one weapon’s being drawn.” The ‘s is a simple typo that a good copyeditor should have caught. And why not translate the sentence more directly as “The crowd kept its distance with no weapon drawn”?
A more serious problem appears a few pages later when people lining the road begin to throw rocks at the bus:
Dazu ließ der Fahrer, der, so als sei nichts, das Fenster zu seiner Seite aufgeklappt hatte, inzwischen Musik hinausschallen, eine laute, die freilich, ganz unbalkanisch, wie sie war, ohne Harmonika-Klirren und Kurzrohrtrompeten-Schmettern, niemand provozieren konnte—es waren die weithin hallenden Gitarren des Instrumentalstücks „Apache“. . . .
The translation:
In addition, the driver, who had cranked up the window on his side as if for no particular reason, now turned on music, loud, completely un-Balkan music, without rattling harmonicas or short-tube trumpet blasts, music that could not possibly provoke anyone; instead it was the long-distance echoing guitars from the “Apache” instrumental piece. . .
The first problem is with “In addition.” The driver’s action is no addition to the silent, rock-throwing crowds but a response to them. “Response” is a good translation of “Dazu” (as would be “in addition” in another context). Because she understands the word “aufgeklappt” as shutting the window, Winston misses the fact that the bus driver is blaring the aggressive rock music out of his window in response to the attack. The word “aufklappen” can mean “to fold up,” which may explain the mistake, but in this case it means to open. That misunderstanding leads her to settle for simply turning on the loud music rather than blaring it out. The “long-distance echoing guitars” make only awkward sense of “weithin hallenden Gitarren.” A reader would be better served by “it was the guitars of the ‘Apache’ instrumental resounding into the distance. . . .” And finally, because of its common use in Balkan music, flugelhorn is a better translation than the too literal rendering of the German “short-tube trumpet.”
asorrowbeyonddreamsHandke is precise in his word choice, and repeated words bear close scrutiny by a reader intent on understanding him. A translation should preserve such repetitions. This one often fails to do so. For example, the former writer describes a state he falls into now and then, a state he can almost summon at will, a state in which the silent world shows itself to him as a whole, a seductive and dangerous state that cannot be described. The word used repeatedly for this state of being is “Entrückt” (past participle) or “Entrücktheit” (noun) and it appears in at least five important parts of the novel. The verbs are translated as “carried away” or as “transported.” The nouns become rapture, reverie, fugue state, and rapture again. While “reverie” and “rapture” are possibilities, the specificity of “fugue state” is a clear overreach. For the nouns I would use rapture rather than reverie, which is much too passive for the experience. And for the verbs, either carried away or transported, but not both. Another example of varying terms for a single word—this one a mistake that shows a simple lack of concentration—has a character throwing “darts” at a dartboard, but later we are told that “the arrows did not stick.” Arrows?
Finally, an example of an especially troubling paragraph, a beautiful description of a mountainous border crossing the former writer knows through his mother’s stories. In her telling, there were “huckleberry bushes wet with dew.” The “Heidelbeeren” in the Harz Mountains are Vaccinium myrtillis. Huckleberries, if they are a species of the Vacciniumfamily, appear only in the American west. Blueberries would be a better choice here. In memory, the former writer sees his mother with her dew-softened cardboard suitcases and smells what the translation calls “pine pitch.” These are fir trees and “resin” would be more correct. He hears, in the translation, “a plane’s engine”; the German describes a “Fahrzeuggeräusch,“ the sound of a vehicle. He hears a cry he identifies as a pheasant. A semi-colon follows, but the translator ignores it to place the pheasant “rustling high up in the crown of the pines.” The rustling, or better “soughing,” is not the sound of the pheasant but of the tops of the firs. That comforting sound creates the illusion that she is safely beyond borders, and then “at home, near a village,” as the translation says, “near a village” being a rendering of “in Dorfnähe.“ The sentence moves his mother ever closer to the safety of home, but ending it with “near a village” is an afterthought. “Comforted by the village” would be a less literal but more thoughtful end to the sentence and it repeats an early deliberation on closeness, familiarity, and the close horizons of village life.
This novel deserves a more accurate and more nuanced translation. Having said that, I will add that The Moravian Night deserves readers like the young woman on the train. They should be solemn readers, concentrated readers, readers who can grin at the former author’s attempts to get things right (“or better said”), who can smile at his self questioning (“A solemnity that radiated—really? Yes, Mr. Know-It-All.”), who are astonished, surprised readers opened and made beautiful by the book. In The Moravian Night, passages of lyrical beauty alternate with, or better said, are themselves profound explorations of the possibilities of narration, of perception refined through language and of language transformed by perception. Through his meticulous and searching and sometimes inspired storytelling over the course of the night on the Morava, the former writer transforms himself and, the narrator reports, becomes “the writer” once again. Reading Peter Handke’s novel, I have become a reader again, am grateful to be his reader.


  1. Count me among the nitpicking analists on this one

  2. Rather than doing this in comments here, I would rather have it as part of our main discussion. Your post, however, has me wondering if you actually read the translation.

    1. So far I am extremely happu with Krishna's tramslation of MORAWIsCHE NACHT & I am reeading and rereading very slowly. But not comparing with the German - there madness lies for quibblers/!


      "I'm reading the translation now. Reading it so slowly that it feels like I may never get through it. The problem is that every time I find an obscure or awkward phrase or sentence I go back to the German for confirmation. Here's the kind of thing that drives me crazy, from the earlier translation by Krishna Winston of No Man's Bay, on my mind as I write my essay "Afternoon on the Sava" for Zarko's edition of Schreibheft: His mind slipped to the afternoon at Peter’s house in Chaville. Had it been ten years? Fifteen? Peter had sautéed mushrooms and served them with dark bread and Portuguese white wine. He had showed him the first pages of the American translation of Mein Jahr in der Niemandsbucht and asked for his evaluation. He read a few pages and pointed out an early sentence that ended with “. . . an der Stelle des zwischendurch mich weiterwürgenden ‘Ende’ das Ding Verwandlung.” The translation read “. . . the ‘end’ that still gagged me now and then was more and more firmly replaced by this metamorphosis thing.” With the throwaway silliness of “this metamorphosis thing,” he said, “Das Ding Verwandlung” has lost its philosophical tension. And the carefully wrought, eleven-word original phrase has been bloated to nineteen flaccid words. Your sentences have been flattened, the nuance is gone.

      MICHAEL REPLIES: that comment about the translation belongs on the page reserved for it on the translation [plus blog, i agree that something very serious is lost iwth the way she handles the "Ding Verwandlung" its slighly dismissive yet respectful dread, and the humor of its return not ony from Kafka but from his earlier work, MOMENT OF TRUE FEELING. Perhgapos Wilkins did not know Handke's early waokr at that poin? Manheim died and she finished the last of the tTHREE ASSAYIBG as I call them & then did NMAN'S BAY. Perhaps I need to take a harder look than I have so far.

  3. It will be part of the main discussion inevitably. My opening salvo applied chiefly to Krnishna Winston's past Handke work that is evidently appreciated by FSG to the extent that they are willing to wait upon her other work & thus delay the publication, in this instance of MORAWIAN. So far my reading of her current translation is proving pleasurable as ever. but don't let me stop you from picking all the nits you want


  4. As we know, I started the ball rolling, and I am still fairly happy what I did with the early plays up to and especially including WALK ABOUT THE VILLAGES http://www.handketrans.scriptmania.com/
    I initially went overboard in the matter of the self-imploding versification in KASPAR, corrected this for Peter Brook & Carl Weber, but Farrar, Straus, what with 20 reprints of KASPAR & OTHER PLAYS, nonethless never saw fit to oblige me with introducing the changes, which however I believe exist in the version published in Methuen’s COMPLETE HANDKE PLAYS VOLUME I.
    I was not happy with my work on GOALIE’S ANXIETY AT THE PENALTY KICK – and in general my strength are plays and poetry and poetic prose.

    Ralph Mannheim came in with the translation of SHORT LETTER LONG FAREWELL and did the prose translations up until the THREE ESSAYS, one of which was left uncompleted at his death in the 80s, whereupon Krishna Winston came in.
    Though Handke seems to have much liked Mannheim’s work, I myself found his ear and feel to be decades removed from the U.S., where he, a German teen age immigrant, had grown up, and not responding well to the rhythms of Handke’s prose – which I found unfortunate in the case of the title novel A SLOW HOMECOMING.

    My happy feelings about Krishna Winston’s work is expressed at the top of this page. Handke shines through. Scott it appears does not share my estimate & I await his quibbles. He does have one serious instance of a miss from the NO-MAN’S BAY translation.

    Gitta Honegger’s work on THE HOUR WE KNEW NOTHING ABOUT EAC OTHER is not up to the snuff of the great text, not that this ought to make any difference in mounting a performance since the text is pure stage direction; however, there have been several other translations, one in London and one here in Seattle, that I only saw performed but did not read, by Roger Downey. Honegger’s ART OF ASKING is not irredeemably awful but will require work before the play is finally mounted.

    Scott Abbott’s work on Handke’s JOURNEY TO THE RIVERS, DUGOUT CANOE & TO DURATION all strike me as first rate & I regard myself as fortunate to have him work with me on my 2015 translation of

    I have not seen Martin Chalmer’s work on STILL STORM, the U.of Chicago Press did not send me the review copy I requested, thus Chalmers, now deceased, will remain among uncommented upon.

    Mike Mitchel, a true jack of all translators, did Handke’s UNTIL THE DAY US PART & did fine work.

    Methinks that that is it.