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By Peter Handke

Translation through Ralph Manheim

Amazon description:

The time is an unspecified modernity, where very likely Europe. Absence follows 4 anonymous humans -- the previous guy, the girl, the soldier, and the gambler -- as they trip to a desolate desert past the boundaries of an unnamed city.

A very fascinating Library magazine assessment, that still turns out keen on my finally Schopenhauerian view of library maintenance (however, its prejudice opposed to "slim volumes" is finally undeserved).

From Library Journal
Four characters, pointed out in basic terms because the previous guy, the girl, the Soldier, and the Gambler, go back and forth to a distant desert bordering on an unnamed urban. Seasons switch in a single day, the outdated guy disappears, and the pc he consists of seems to be to the soldier in a dream, yet regardless of evocative prose there's little course the following, basically curious moments and a obscure unease. Handke expects his readers to swallow each one descriptive element during this interminable trip, no matter if it merits curiosity--or has any significance--or no longer. In his final novella (at simply over a hundred pages we must always now not overrate those slender volumes), the protagonist's studies shed a few mild at the book's identify ( Afternoon of A author, LJ 9/1/89). Absence , unfortunately, is totally real to its title.
- Peter Bricklebank, urban Coll., CUNY

and a way more neutral review:
From Publishers Weekly
German writer Handke ( Afternoon of a author ) enlarges the recurrent metaphysical preoccupations of his prolific output during this newest demanding and worthwhile novel. The story's 4 anonymous protagonists meander via a surreally disconnected and flattened panorama. An outdated artist, a gambler blind to himself, a callow soldier whose self-effacing "absence" is a safeguard opposed to the realm, and a useless girl whose frantic mirror-staring fails to make her current to herself, "roam"--as the novel's epigraph from Chuang Tzusp okay places it--"in the palace of Nowhere, the place all issues are one." As they wander throughout a virtually featureless northern undeniable, the previous, current and destiny turn into one and the characters' insubstantial identities cave in into each other. but if they become aware of legible symbols within the surrounding blankness and browse them with conviction, the panorama springs into recognizable lifestyles and the characters realize their power. during this easily written delusion, Handke forcefully summons readers to the popularity that the essence of human lifestyles lies within the striving for self-expression even if its excellent cognizance should always stay elusive.

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Additional resources for Absence

Example text

W hile the woman takes an awl— she has everything she needs in the suitcase— and makes an extra hole in the soldier's belt, the old m an, sitting beside them on the bank, cleans his varicolored mushroom s. By then the table has been set for all. T he gambler in A B S E N C E : 4 8 the cam per also seems changed, not only because he is officiating at the stove in his shirtsleeves and wearing a flowered apron, but also because for cooking he has put on a pair o f half-moon glasses. It is only when he suddenly looks over the edges that his glance seems as cold and dan­ gerous as it used to.

After crossing an area o f bare ground and sparse, stubbly grass, suggesting an abandoned cattle pen or circus ground, they find themselves at the edge o f a large forest. T he trees in its dark depths seem at first sight to be covered with snow; in reality they are white birches. Here the four hesitate before crossing a kind of border, the dividing line between the yellowish clay o f the open field and the black, undulating, springy peat soil. T he peat bog and the forest rooted in it are also several feet higher than the field.

A B S E N C E : 1 8 of a peacock in a zoo. T he television sets in a shopwindow all display their test patterns. At one of the scenes of Sunday’s accidents whitish sand is being strewn over blood, which in one place is still discernible, a circular, clotted, pitchblack spot, as though the victim’s heart had drained just there. T he light o f a streetlamp shines into a cafe, whose chairs and tables are sharply outlined in the gloom; in one corner a basket full o f leftover bread, shrunken, crusts bro­ ken, as happens to baked goods only on Sunday evenings; the few men left on the chess board have all tipped over, except the king, who stands proudly erect.

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