Peter Handke

Peter Handke:

The Nobel Prize award day was as festive as it was strange. Peter Handke received his medal, the protests remained outside - but were at least noticed. In the end, Handke brought out the first toast of his life.

A day between glamour and protest was that in Stockholm on Tuesday, glory in the ballrooms and demonstrations out in the cold of the Swedish capital.

This year is the highlight of the Nobel Prize Week in Sweden every year, with the award ceremony in the Concert Hall and the large banquet afterwards in the huge hall of the City Hall with 1200 guests. It was gorgeous and a bit spooky this time.

Of course because of Peter Handke, the Nobel Prize for Literature this year, because of his books on the wars Yugoslavia, his partisanship for this ruling ruler then.

And then, Peter Handke had missed every opportunity this week to explain his position even then and now only a little. But insulted or helpless or unwillingly silent.

In front of the concert hall gigantic Christmas decorations and lots of police. Surrender drones in the air, a poster "Nobody prize for fake news", inside Carl-Henrik Heldin,

Chairman of the Nobel Foundation, opens the ceremony and immediately evokes the spirit of Alfred Nobel and his belief that knowledge and facts are the foundation of our society are.

Of course, that was already a first friendly-clear commentary to Handke and his insistence on his poetic I-reality.

Almost a distancing. But the festivity remained undisturbed. Accompanied by fanfares, each winner, twelve men, two women, received his prize from the hand of King Carl Gustaf. Bows, applause.

A medal is awarded, a medal is taken:

Olga Tokarczuk, the literary prize winner in 2018, who received the award because of the scandals in the academy only this year, in a black dress and with high-set dreadlocks, was the best-humoured of the honorees on stage.

She just enjoyed the celebration and honour. Her laudator Per Wästberg said about her: "I see Alfred Nobel in friendly agreement from his heaven to sufficient."

Peter Handke, who seemed to suffer the ceremony on stage, received Anders Olsson's "warmest congratulations from the Swedish Academy" after all.

Then the party started on in shuttle buses over to the city hall. Meanwhile, it was heard that in the city centre 1000 demonstrators had gathered against the award ceremony to Peter Handke.

The doctor, Christina Doctor, who received the Nobel Prize in 1988 as part of the UN peacekeeping force, took her order the moment Handkek shook hands and wants to return him in protest.

Meanwhile, the Prachtgesellschaft is stuck in the buses. They are regular buses, ladies in gigantic clothes are in the hallway, they need room for seven. It takes half an hour to drive through the snowy city centre.

Then arrive at the town hall. Kings, ministers, ambassadors, award winners roll into the courtyard in black limousines, a small Handke fan group across the street, they lift bags with his picture in the air. Who they are? "Oh, we love his books, he's a great writer!"

Twenty meters further about 40 protesters protest the banners against deportation of Afghans from Sweden.

What has this to do with Handke? "Oh, nothing directly, we turn to the public, and it's here today." The Anti-Handke demonstration is further away.

The Handke friends with the bags say that the other group just has no idea about literature. Where did they come from? "We are Serbs." Clear fronts. Clear boundaries.

In the courtyard of the town hall children with torches, high beacons, on the snow crunching limousines. Inside then: like an ancient dream. The high banquet hall, the seating arrangement is distributed as a printed book.

It is said that Princess Christina, the youngest sister of Carl Gustaf, who usually sits next to the Nobel Prize for Literature, does not come this time. "Important appointments". The royal house maintains its distance.

Later, when again under fanfares, the guests of honour step down the grand staircase, Olga Tokarczuk will go far to the front of the Crown Prince.

Handke, far back, with the Minister of Education of Sweden in a silver-white bloomy garment. So, the minister. Handke of course, beautiful, like all gentlemen that evening, in a tailcoat.

When, late on this festive evening, the winners step on the grand staircase for a final performance to say thank you again, Olga Tokarczuk recalls Selma Lagerlöf,

who was the first woman to win the Nobel Prize in Literature 110 years ago and she says it thank you, all-female creators. They are all behind me. "We won the Nobel Prize!"

Then comes Handke. He speaks English, he says that this is the first toast of his life. He also recalls Selma Lagerlöf and her wild geese, "who overfly everything in the future."

And closes, half-wild, half enigmatic, a bit awkward freedom, calling the Beatles and Ingmar Bergman: "Selma Lagerlöf's wild gees forever! Strawberry Fields forever! Wild strawberries forever!"

Then the party goes up the great staircase to the Golden Hall for a dance. Handke does not dance, stands with his wife, his publisher and the Serbian filmmaker Emir Kusturica in one of the back rooms.

The festival is roaring around him. Through the windows Stockholm in the snow. The protesters and supporters have long since gone home. The night is cold.


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