Peter Handke's "Mein Jahr in der Niemandsbucht": Narrative and Place

Dissertation, Harvard University (1999)

This thesis focuses on Peter Handke's text entitled Mein Jahr in der Niemandsbucht . The book is the product of a year's worth of writing in, from and about a particular location. Its highly experimental form poses significant questions about the nature of narrative, the relation of fiction to reality and narrator to author, and the concept of writing about the self and the conventional understandings of autobiographical forms. ;Based on Heidegger's concept of Dasein ['Being-here/existence'], Peter Handke's Mein Jahr in der Niemandsbucht develops a specific philosophy of the self, the theory that you are defined by place . The writer's mode of existence is structured by being-in-a-place. Following Heidegger, this also implies that he is constituted by his preoccupation in which he makes use of places as tools, and by his solicitude for people. My analysis will show how Handke appropriates and reworks the Heideggerian categories. ;In the first chapter, I explore the concept of writing as homeland. By writing about place, Handke creates a Heimat for himself. The second chapter examines in detail the way, in which the writer in/of Mein Jahr in der Niemandsbucht equates a sense of self with a sense of belonging to a place. Here, I show how concepts from Heidegger's Sein und Zeit inform the philosophical underpinnings of Mein Jahr in der Niemandsbucht. The third and final chapter focuses on the writer's existential need for being-in-common and the resultant battle between his desire to be alone and need to bond with others. The solution is expressed as a move away from the self to a defining location
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