A Sorrow Beyond Dreams

A Sorrow Beyond Dreams

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Peter Handke's mother was an invisible woman. Throughout her life, which spanned the Nazi era, the war, and the postwar consumer economy, she struggled to maintain appearances, only to arrive at a terrible recognition: "I'm not human any more." Not long after, she killed herself with an overdose of sleeping pills.

In A Sorrow Beyond Dreams her son sits down to record what he knows, or thinks he knows, about his mother's life and death before, in his words, "the dull speechlessness—the extreme speechlessness" of grief takes hold forever. And yet the experience of speechlessness, as it marks both suffering and love, lies at the heart of Handke's brief but unforgettable elegy. This austere, scrupulous, and deeply moving book is one of the finest achievements of a great contemporary writer.

Title:A Sorrow Beyond Dreams
Edition Language:English
ISBN:9781590170199
Format Type:

    A Sorrow Beyond Dreams Reviews

  • Adam Dalva

    I came to this slim novella through Maggie Nelson, who recommends it in RED PARTS. It is the story of Handke's mother's suicide, and his rapid attempts to capture it and her life through writing. Hand...

  • PGR Nair

    A HYMN TO TRAGEDYIt is a difficult proposition to write a memoir about the death of one’s mother, and that too when she commits suicide at the age of 51 ( I have a somber association with that numb...

  • Paul Bryant

    What’s in a name – this is described as a semi-autobiographical novel but it’s really a memoir, just that, written in the white hot anguish left behind by Peter Handke’s mother who committed s...

  • Jonathan

    What does it mean to write about Death, not abstract death, or death of some invented Other, but Death in its most personal, intimate, self-shattering form? How, when the act of writing, of compositio...

  • David M

    February 16, 2020 - the more I read of Handke, the more it seems that the death of his Slovenian mother is the key to the whole edifice. In addition to being a masterpiece in its own right, this book ...

  • Cheryl

    “My sense of horror makes me feel better: at last my boredom is gone; an unresisting body, no more exhausting distances, a painless passage of time,” Peter Handke writes in this distilling memoir ...

  • Josh

    The half-lit room. The cream-colored paint on the walls reflecting barely enough light to see. The tiled floor, absent of dirt or dust. The cot which lies empty, barren and untouched. All of these cir...

  • Lee Klein

    Barely remembered reading this in 1996, back when I read everything Handke had published. Read a yellowed mass market paperback with a cartoon image of the author on the cover (Three by Peter Handke)....

  • Sue

    Peter Handke has written an elegy for his mother, a suicide, unlike anything I've read before. It is also the story of many women born in Austria between the World Wars, when life was not only difficu...

  • John Hatley

    It would be very difficult to write anything about this book without spoiling it for anyone who wants to read it....