At the beginning of Nobel Prize winner Peter Handke's novel A Moment of True Feeling, Gregor Keuschnig awakens from a nightmare in which he has committed murder, and announces, "From today on, I shall be leading a double life."
The duplicity, however, lies only in Keuschnig's mind; his everyday life as the press atache for the Austrian Embassy in Paris continues much as before: routine paperwork, walks in the city, futile intimacies with his family and his mistress. But Keuschnig is oblivious to it all, merely simulating his previous identity while he searches for a higher significance, a mystical moment of true sensation which can free him from what the novel calls life's "dreadful normalcy." Convinced that, if he fails, life's meaning will be revealed to him only when it is too late, he looks for portents everywhere.
Keuschnig's search takes him through all of Paris. At every step, his feelings are interwoven with acute observation of its streets, buildings, cafes, parks, sky. It is an intimate and evocative journey, in a city that is at once supportive and familiar, strange and provocative.
About the Author
Peter Handke was born in Griffen, Austria, in 1942. His many novels include The Goalie’s Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, A Sorrow Beyond Dreams, My Year in the No-Man’s Bay, and Crossing the Sierra de Gredos, all published by FSG. Handke’s dramatic works include Kaspar and the screenplay for Wim Wenders’s Wings of Desire. Handke is the recipient of many major literary awards, including the Georg Büchner, Franz Kafka, and Thomas Mann Prizes and the International Ibsen Award. In 2019, he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Literature “for an influential work that with linguistic ingenuity has explored the periphery and the specificity of human experience.”
Ralph Manheim (b. New York, 1907) was an American translator of German and French literature. His translating career began with a translation of Mein Kempf in which Manheim set out to reproduce Hitler's idiosyncratic, often grammatically aberrant style. In collaboration with John Willett, Manheim translated the works of Bertolt Brecht. The Pen/Ralph Manheim Medal for translation, inaugurated in his name, is a major lifetime achievement award in the field of translation. He himself won its predecessor, the PEN translation prize, in 1964. Manheim died in Cambridge in 1992. He was 85.