Peter Handke (pā´tər hänt´kə), 1942–, Austrian novelist and playwright. His controversial, avant-garde works often reflect his ironic sense of the constricting limitations of language and reason and the chaos of actual human experience. His plays include Kaspar (1968, tr. 1969), Die Unvernünftigen sterben aus (1973, tr. They Are Dying Out, 1974), and Die Stunde, da wir nichts voneinander wußten (1994; tr. The Hour We Knew Nothing of Each Other, 1996), which contains 400 characters and no dialogue. Among his other works are the novels Die Angst des Tormanns beim Elfmeter (1970; tr. The Goalie's Anxiety at the Penalty Kick, 1972), Die linkshändige Frau (1976; tr. The Left-Handed Woman, 1978), In einer dunklen Nacht ging ich aus meinem stillen Haus (1997; tr. On a Dark Night I Left My Silent House, 2000), and Don Juan: erzahit von ihm selbst (2004; tr. Don Juan: His Own Version, 2007). Some of his other writings are a biographical account of his mother's illness, Wunschloses Unglück (1972; tr. A Sorrow beyond Dreams, 1975; also a theatrical monologue, 1977); the journal Das Gewicht der Welt (1977, tr. Weight of the World, 1984); the essay collection The Jukebox and Other Essays on Storytelling (tr. 1994); and the screenplays for Wim Wenders's Wrong Move (1979) and Wings of Desire (1987). The usually apolitical Handke set off a storm of protest in Europe with his long essay Eine winterliche Reise zu den Flüssen Donau, Save, Morawa und Drina (1996, tr. A Journey to the Rivers, 1997), a pro-Serbian work about the civil war that accompanied Yugoslavia's disintegration.
See studies by J. Schlueter (1981), R. A. Firda (1993), C. Perry (2003), and D. N. Coury (2005).