Peter Handke Now Also Online: Unique Access to The Materials And Papers Relating to The Author's Output

Thanks to the website "handkeonline", the materials and papers of one of the most important German-language authors are now directly accessible. Comprehensive data on Peter Handke from public and private collections are cross-referenced and described on the website, and thus provide unique insight into the genesis of his works. With Handke's permission, complete facsimiles of the original versions of some of the author's works and his notebooks are also published for the first time. The collation of these data as part of a project funded by the FWF creates a unique reference source with online access.

Digital manuscripts: many handwritten papers by one of the most important German-language authors, Peter Handke, are now available online. Here the first pencil draft of "Versuch über die Müdigkeit". © Use of this photo for editorial purposes is free of charge, subject to attribution: © Peter Handke

Peter Handke is one of the most important writers in the German-speaking area. Although he gained considerable renown as an author as early as the mid-1960s, he did not initially attach any great importance to providing access to his work-related materials, sources and papers. Up into the 1970s many of his project notes were lost and numerous original documents given away to private persons. In addition, several collections were dispersed. The coordinated processing of this material at the Literary Archives of the Austrian National Library and the presentation of the results – on the website "" – were finally made possible through the project "Peter Handke Research Platform".

Online & Comprehensive

However, as project director Dr. Klaus Kastberger explains, the project goes beyond the "simple" documentation and description of materials related to origins: "The processes involved in the genesis of a text are also analysed in detail. In addition, the project website also contains a virtual research platform. This is overseen by an international scientific committee and correlates our work with current research."

The literary archive itself forms an important cornerstone of the work carried out by Dr. Kastberger and his team. Back in 2007, the Austrian National Library succeeded in acquiring almost all of the author's papers from 1990 in a premortem bequest. A short time later, the unique Handke collection held by Johann Widrich (a childhood friend of the author) was acquired on loan. This collection extends back to the earliest days of Handke's writing and includes typescripts and manuscripts, notebooks, letters, notated books, private photographs, annotated maps and much more besides. This material is complemented by records of the comprehensive Handke holdings of the German Literature Archive Marbach and the Literaturarchiv Salzburg (Salzburg Literature Archive).

Web & Book Pages

The current website is divided into a total of six modules. "The first – 'Paths through the Material' – is a kind of virtual exhibition," explains Dr. Kastberger. "This module provides insights into the wide-ranging manifestations of Handke's writing." The second module contains 76 of the author's notebooks from the period 1972 to 1990, which encompass almost 10,000 pages. This enormous corpus, which forms the background to Handke's work, is correlated with the author's published works. The third module "Works & Material", divides Handke's published books into prose, translation, drama, anthologies, journals, poetry and radio plays. Material on each individual work has been accessed and collated as bundles of genetic documentation. For Katharina Pektor, a member of the project team, this module forms the heart of the project: "All of the available material related to the genesis of a work is recorded and described here: from typescripts and manuscripts to style sheets, galley proofs and the first editions." This is rounded off by various research and support materials.

The fourth module comprises complete facsimiles of selected works, which are reproduced with the author's permission. The fifth module provides an open access platform for authoritative contributions on the genesis of Handke's texts and works, as well as studies focusing on writing processes, and the sixth module contains a comprehensive and current bibliography comprising all of the author's books and individual texts, and a complete directory of all of the currently available research literature.

The continuation of the project into the year 2015 will ensure that further detailed work is carried out on the content of the website. However, thanks to the publicly accessible content, the FWF project has already attracted considerable interest, not only from experts and researchers but also from people with general interest in Handke and his work. This welcome additional effect shows that basic scientific research is also important for the public at large.


Scientific contact
PD Dr. Klaus Kastberger
Literary Archives of the Austrian National Library
Josefsplatz 1
1015 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / 1 /  534 10 - 349

Austrian Science Fund FWF
Mag. Stefan Bernhardt
Haus der Forschung
Sensengasse 1
1090 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / (0)1 / 505 67 40 - 8111

Copy Editing & Distribution
PR&D – Public Relations for Research & Education
Mariannengasse 8
1090 Vienna, Austria
T +43 / (0)1 / 505 70 44

Vienna, January 20th, 2014