Once Again for Thucydides
Fiction by Peter Handke
Once Again for Thucydides is a collection of seventeen “micro-epics” written by Peter Handke on trips around the world, from the Balkans to the Pyrenees, from Salzburg to the sea of Hokkaido in Japan. In each journal, Handke concentrates on small things he observes, trying to capture their essence, their “simple, unadorned validity.” What results is a work of remarkable precision, in which he uncovers the general appearance of random objects––an ash tree, a shoeshine man, hats in a crowd, a boat loading on a pier––and discovers their inner workings and mystery. Always, his writing hints at the unknown. Describing the snow melting in a garden or falling during a train ride through inland Japan, the glowworms illuminating the plains in Friuli, the tidal waters flowing and receding off the Atlantic coast of Spain, these amazing little “epics” reveal a narrator obsessed with the wonders of detail and marveling, as are we, at the scope and variety of the natural world.