"Den Nicht-Ort gibt es nicht" : Handke and the spirit of place in Versuch über den stillen ort.
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HALSALL, R., 2013. "Den Nicht-Ort gibt es nicht" : Handke and the spirit of place in Versuch über den stillen ort. In: P.M. Lützeler, E. McGlothlin and J. Kapczynski, eds. Gegenwartsliteratur: Ein Germanistischen Jahrbuch; a German studies yearbook, 12/2013. Tubingen: Stauffenburg Verlag. Pp. 139-164.
Handke’s concern with place has been seen as a search for a utopia, characteristic of a writer who has allegedly become increasingly ‘weltfremd’. This essay examines Handke’s most recent work, Versuch über den Stillen Ort, in the light of this critique. In this essay it is argued that Handke’s poetics of place, as exemplified in the Versuch, is rather a search for the genius loci or spirit of place. This spirit belongs not just to idyllic places far removed from civilization, but can be found in places that have been dismissed as ‘inauthentic’ or ‘non-places’—epitomized by a place associated with the lowest and most abject aspects of humanity, the toilet, which is the central poetic focus of the text.