Skimming the Franfurter Allgemeine Zeitung of 10.07.2010 (and then having to buy 2 of the articles for € 2 each — i.e. basically the price of the whole Sunday Times here in NYC) — I came across these bits which may be of interest:
— What do a JS Bach receipt for 32 cents (well, groschen) for piano-rental, a batch of letters from Goethe to Legationsrat Falk, a hitherto unpublished collection of medical notes and suggestions by homeopathy founder Samuel Hahneman, and 5 missives from Friedrich Nietzsche to his English friend Emily Frym have in common? Answer: €140,000. i.e. the price each one of these items or bundles fetched at an auction of literary things chez Stargardt in Berlin. The prices seem to have gone through the roof (unless things had been very carefully underpriced). Another item in the auction was a ms. of a poem by Paul Celan (see pix above) which went from a starting price € 1600 up to € 7000.
— In another article in the same paper, Germanist Jürgen Brokoff asks — 15 years after the Srebenica massacre of Bosnian Muslims by Serb militias — if in Peter Handke’s books one can separate the literary from the political, as the critics, according to Brokoff, have been doing these last few years in order to be able to save Handke qua writer from his political involvements (I of course immediately thought of Ezra Pound). Brokoff concludes: “It is an extenuation to criticize Handke for his supposedly naive political statements. This author’s true sin does not take place in the arena of the political, but in the literary arena. The extremely clever and text-wise strategically placed borrowings from the language of Serbian nationalism, the anti-Muslim and anti-Albanian insinuations on the symbolic level and his derision of the Muslim victims of the Bosnian war make this clear.” [ “Es ist eine Verharmlosung, Handke für seine vermeintlich naiven politischen Stellungnahmen zu kritisieren. Der eigentliche Sündenfall dieses Autors ereignet sich nicht auf dem Feld des Politischen, sondern auf dem Feld des Literarischen. Die textstrategisch äußerst geschickten Anleihen bei der Sprache des serbischen Nationalismus, seine antimuslimischen und antialbanischen Insinuationen auf der symbolischen Ebene und seine Verhöhnung der muslimischen Opfer des Bosnien-Krieges machen dies deutlich.”] I do not know Handke’s reent work well enough to corroborate this take, but if it is so, then the comparison with Pound is fallacious, as there is for me a very clear split in that case: Pound, the man, was clearly fascist — but his major work, The Cantos, are not. I would certainly argue in EP’s case that the poem won out over the man.