A Sorrow Beyond Dreams by Peter Handke, How he presents a biography with two characters
A Sorrow Beyond Dreams is written soon after Handke’s mother’s suicide. It is not structured in any traditional way. There is no introduction, climax, or resolution. There is no plot at all, the suicide is announced on the very first page. "The Sunday edition of the Kärnter Volkszeitung carried the following item under 'Local News': 'In the village of A. (G. township), a housewife, aged 51, committed suicide on Friday night by taking an overdose of sleeping pills.'"
This is the opening of the very brief, 76 page account about the suicide of his mother. No emotion is revealed and there is no buildup to this reveal. Handke writes about his mother in a way that creates a story rather than a history of a life. While…show more content… It engages the conflict between rational thought and emotion, building a narrative between ideas and lived experience. It’s not quite memoir, but not exactly fiction either. Handke writes about nothing, but everything at the same time. There is no real progression of events and barely any context but the reader feels content and complete upon the finishing of the book. Handke's portrait of his mother (who remains nameless) is of post war suffering, poverty, and the attempt to achieve middle-class happiness. We see a happy girl who gets involved with the war time fervour. Once the war passes and she has settled down, life becomes almost unbearable. Her husband drinks too much and beats and bullies her. She administers her own abortions, with a knitting needle (the casual statement being one of the more shocking moments in the book), and