Brooklyn, NY: punctum books, 2013. 124 pages, illus. ISBN-13: 978-0615851334. DOI: 10.21983/P3.0039.1.00. OPEN-ACCESS e-book and $19.00 in print: paperbound/5.5 X 8.5 in.


The man waiting for him was a translator from a foreign country who for some days had been tracing the itineraries of a book set in the region and now wished to ask the author a few questions.

~ Peter Handke, The Afternoon of a Writer

Repetitions / Vampires & A Reasonable Dictionary [2 vols.]

Pageflex Persona [document: PRS0000026_00013]

Repetitions / Vampires & A Reasonable Dictionary [2 vols.]

by Scott Abbott and Žarko Radaković

(translation of portions of Repetitions by Ivana Djordjević; translation of Vampires by Alice Copple-Tošić)

See Vol. 2: Vampires & A Reasonable Dictionary HERE.

In 1994, after following a character in Peter Handke’s novel Repetition into what is now Slovenia and after traveling in landscapes of Handke’s youth, Žarko Radaković and Scott Abbott published a two-headed text in Belgrade, Ponavljane, now published in English by punctum as Repetitions. The possibility of narration in two voices, complicated by the third voice that is Peter Handke’s own narrator, is the main focus of deliberation while traveling and reading and writing. Repetitions begins with Abbott’s text, a fairly straightforward travel narrative. It ends with Radaković’s account of the same events, much less straightforward, more repetitious, more adventuresome.

Two aspects make the double-book unique. First, it represents experiences shared by two authors whose native languages are Serbian and English respectively (German is their only common language). The authors’ perspectives contrast with and supplement one another: Radaković grew up in Tito’s Yugoslavia and Abbott comes from the Mormon American West; Radaković is the translator of most of Peter Handke’s works into Serbo-Croatian and Abbott translated Handke’s provocative A Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia for Viking Press and his play Voyage by Dugout: The Play of the Film of the War for PAJ (Performing Arts Journal); Radaković was a journalist for Deutsche Welle in Cologne and Abbott is a professor of German literature at Utah Valley University; Radaković is the author of several novels and Abbott has published mostly literary-critical work; and so on. Two sets of eyes. Two pens. Two visions of the world.

Further, the years 1994 and 2008 (publication dates for Repetitions and its follow-up Vampires & A Reasonable Dictionary in Belgrade, respectively) bracket a horrendous period in the history of Yugoslavia. The authors changed during that period as well — divorces, new partners, new jobs; and Peter Handke, while metamorphosing into the bête noir of the press after his attacks on media portrayals of the Yugoslav wars, became the authors’ friend and entered their second text as a fellow traveler.

As described by the publicists for Belgrade’s Stubovi kulture publishers, Abbott and Radaković’s collaboration gives us

a four-handed intimate artistic witness to the worlds we no longer belong to and to which we never belonged, to being foreign, and to the power of creative friendship in the work of interpreting a real and historical space that we understand less and less the closer we are. Undertake an exploratory journey through the para-regions of the literature of Peter Handke, through the labyrinths of translated originals and of original translations, through the realms of thought whose borders are the Rocky Mountains, Višegrad, Cologne, and Belgrade; allow this two-seater without steering to show you these borders in a way only you can experience!

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