Nika, each year I eagerly await the announcement of the Nobel awards and when I read Handke’s name I had to make a note to look it up. To date, I have not had time. Literature is my first love, so it was on my list for today, Sunday. So I can’t speak to his reputation or his work. But I have very strong feelings about the subject of separating the artist from the work. I cannot. Hitler supposedly was a mediocre artist. But let’s suppose he was a genius, another Picasso. Should we hang the work of a mad man who slaughtered millions because he happened to have talent as an artist? I revere art, but I place humanity above all.
I was reading Bitter Lemons by Lawrence Durrell. I fell in love with his prose. I could not believe I had waited so long to read his work. This was in the ’80s. Then word came out, or reached me, that he had molested his daughter. I never read another word. Just as I’ve thrown out all the cookbooks of the celebrity chefs who been shown to abuse their workers, and cooking is another passion of mine, their food would curdle in my stomach knowing the lives they damaged to achieve it.
If Handke is guilty of the opinions you claim, then I have no use for his work. There are many gifted writers worthy of my time who lift up our world, not bring it down.