Prologue terminable and interminable (on Peter Handke’s early plays)

Artur Sartori Kon About the author

Abstract

Addressing the set of so-called “spoken plays” or “speech plays” (Sprechstücke), the first four works written for the theater in the 1960s by Peter Handke, 2019 Nobel Prize for Literature, the essay seeks to locate in them more than the alienated self-referential game condemned by many in a supposed postmodernism. Relating the author's project with a properly Austrian modernist tradition and with the concerns of a possible political philosophy of language, we investigate his playwriting as a critical operation in relation to the coercive function of language, in order to finally relate this interest to its position in theater history, proposing its key role in understanding the contemporary scene.

Keywords:
Peter Handke; contemporary theatre; Austrian literature; German theatre

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