3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
Thomas F. Dillingham
- Published on Amazon.com
Peter Handke's characteristic brevity and subtle intellect combine in this work. Not really a novel, at barely 100 pages it might be called a novella, but it is really a prose poem, as the best of Handke's work has been. Just as the work is difficult to characterize generically, it is impossible to describe without distortion. So much of it both is and is not what it is, as the narrator (who is not a chef and restauranteur, who lives in what is not any longer the convent at Port-Royal, and so on) frequently reminds the reader. Don Juan is and is not the central character (actually, the narrative is about time, as well as about not-time), and much of what happens will not have happened as the narrative progresses. In any case, Don Juan is not himself in this narrative, though it is presented as "His Own Version." What the book certainly is is a delightful and disturbing couple of hours of reading which, at least for me, led to a nearly immediate re-reading, which was similarly delightful and disturbing. Watch a couple of performances of Don Giovanni (plenty available on DVD--Keenlyside is particularly good, or Terfel) and then read this. You won't be sorry.
2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
- Published on Amazon.com
a middling one by Joel Agee in the New York Times Sunday book review in early March of 2010, the best so far is Dan Vitale's at THREE PERCENT
Dan Vitale's review of Handke's DON JUAN is a good deal more perceptive than most that have appeared in this country. Nonetheless, he misses a few essential features. Don Juan is but a state of mind, a wish fulfillment into which the restaurateur, who is but a figure out of NO-MAN'S BAY, falls at a moment that he is especially bereft, a moment, it is a dream, a fantasy, and it is so magical in jumping from place to place as a dream or a cut film can be. WOMANTIME is the significant term here that is missed, this is no archetype; Vitale also avoids mention of Don Juan''s sidekick, the chauffeur, who only loves ugly women and whose sex life would seem to be a good deal grosser; also that the book celebrates as the great pop song had it ""what's love got to do with it"".. - bodies enjoying each other's sexuality. It is as earthy as the mushrooms the restaurateur fancies. Formally, the book combines the novelistic, film, dream and the essayistic; the figure that organizes it spatially and narratively are the whirling dervishes. The faster they whirl the calmer the center as the book narrows down and then, once WOMANTIME is over and the TELLING is over, it unravels as does Don Juan back into ordinary counting time. In that sense the book is about aging. The book is about the eros of writing and loving that more than anything else, and is its own demonstration. It is one of Handke's finest and subtlest works, it asks to be read sentence by sentence, at about the pace at which it was written, 1000 words a day, and touches the very dark heart of the world: or rather, as it says: ""brushes is" - and wishes that by merely brushing it represents more accurately. And isn''t it odd that although a certain merriment prevails, is basic mode is rater B-minor, melancholy. The only thing that is complete is the description of the Port Royal abbey region, madre natura on which the restaurateur walks...
I have two pages devoted to DON JUAN AT:
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