Described as an answer to or at least an echo of Samuel Beckett’s Krapp’s Last Tape?, Till Day You Do Part Or A Question of Light, by esteemed Austrian playwright and novelist Peter Handke, is a monologue delivered by the “she” in Beckett’s play. This unnamed female similarly recalls other significant women protagonists in Handke’s own work such as The Left-handed Woman. Handke prefaces the monologue in Till Day You Do PartOr a Question of Light with a description of two stone figures. While the male figure remains “as dead and gone as anyone can,” the female bursts into life, and her monologue gradually focuses on Krapp’s use of pauses and language to dominate the other characters in the Beckett play. Ultimately, however, her complaints and critique of Krapp become a declaration of her love for Krapp or at least an affirmation of their attachment, as the two of them are ultimately bound together, perhaps even inseparable. Till Day You Do Part Or a Question of Light is Handke at his best, evidencing the great skill, psychological acumen, and vision for which his work has been celebrated. Translated by Mike Mitchell
Paul Celan (1920–70) is one of the best-known German poets of the Holocaust; many of his poems, admired for their spare, precise diction, deal directly with its stark themes. Austrian writer Ingeborg Bachmann (1926–73) is recognized as one of post–World War II German literature’s most important novelists, poets and playwrights. It seems only appropriate that these two contemporaries and masters of language were at one time lovers, and they shared a lengthy, artful and passionate correspondence.Collected here for the first time in English are their letters written between 1948 and 1961. Their correspondence forms a moving testimony of the discourse of love in the age after Auschwitz, with all the symptomatic disturbances and crises caused by their conflicting backgrounds and their hard-to-reconcile designs for living—as a woman, as a man, as writers.