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The Afternoon of a Writer by Peter Handke

The Afternoon of a Writer (1987)

by Peter Handke

Other authors: See the other authors section.

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1745102,263 (3.26)17

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Showing 5 of 5
Why was it only when alone that he was able to participate fully?

My sleep has been eroded for months now, first a deprivation of carbohydrates and now the new work responsibilities have left me precarious. I am thus aggressively self-aware during the wee hours. Peter Handke has successfully distilled such levels of examination and rendered it as literature. The protagonist is an author who finishes up his day's work, cleans around his flat and then goes for a constitutional, stops at a pub, goes to meet a translator and finally returns home. Full stop. I recommend this for all who find the day starting at 3 am. ( )
  jonfaith | Feb 22, 2019 |
The best thing about this book is it’s length. It is barely longer than one of my toddler’s books. Here’s a plot summery:

A writer finishes working for the day and decides to take a walk around an unnamed European city. He drinks some wine, some people watch him, an old man yells something about the “city of ruins,” he helps an old lady who has fallen over, he gets a lecture from a drunk at a bar, has a few philosophical musings about his career and live, has one appointment, goes home, the end.

One of the most boring books I’ve ever read. Nothing happens (really, nothing). This book would be like if I decided to go for a walk and then spend an hour describing all the minutia of the walk (every leaf, the glance of a passerby, etc) to one of my friends. While the walk may be beautiful for me as I experience it, the hour long description would likely leave me without any friends.

On the plus side, some sentences are beautiful and the descriptions are vivid. But descriptions without plot is like watching paint dry.

( )
  JenPrim | Jan 15, 2016 |
The title suggests it all: procrastination and solitude are a writer's companion. Unfortunately, I did not find that the treatment of the theme was particularly alluring or interesting. Rousseau with his Promenade has already wandered through the streets in deep reflection and writer's block has been the theme of many a book.
The writing is what salvages this book, but not enough to keep my interest up. ( )
  Cecilturtle | Dec 14, 2013 |
It could be convincingly argued that much of what Peter Handke has written is actually about the process of writing, of finding words to describe what is, in many cases, indescribable. Most of his characters are searching for something that they are unable or can't be bothered to define. The search takes them from one place to another, on a random or circular journey that mirrors or mimics a process of discovery. The Afternoon of a Writer is another of these works, with the significant difference that the protagonist is a writer, and what's more, a character we are invited to take to be Handke himself. His journey begins with the recollection of a time when he thought he had "lost contact with language," when he had been unable to work and thus had lost his purpose in being alive. From his suburban house, where he is living contentedly with his cat, he roams into the (unnamed European) city, spends time at a cafe, where he encounters a drunk, who lectures him in an incomprehensible vernacular, and finally to a meeting with his translator, whose cheery disposition derives from no longer being a writer. This is Handke at his challenging and enigmatic best. The Afternoon of a Writer is the product of a restless and fertile mind that refuses to let anything go unquestioned. ( )
  icolford | Aug 7, 2011 |
Yes, writing isn't easy, but do we have to go through minute by minute how a writer spends his time away from the typewriter, wishing he could do some work? I wrote a short story along those lines when I was still a teenager, and I have to say such themes are self-indulgent and tiresome. If you want this, read Camus's "The Plague" for the incidental treatment the subject receives - it's all you'll need. ( )
  soylentgreen23 | Dec 22, 2006 |
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Author nameRoleType of authorWork?Status
Peter Handkeprimary authorall editionscalculated
Manheim, RalphTranslatorsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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