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, Zarko Radakovic and Scott Abbott published a two-headed text in Belgrade, Ponavljane (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 Radakovic’s account of the same events, much less straightforward, more repetitious, more adventuresome. First, the book is written 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: Radakovic grew up in Tito’s Yugoslavia and Abbott comes from the Mormon American West; Radakovic 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); Radakovic was a journalist for Deutsche Welle in Cologne and Abbott is a professor of German literature at Utah Valley University; Radakovic is the author of several novels and Abbott has published mostly literary-critical work; Radakovic was married to a theoretical physicist from Belgrade and Abbott was married to a homemaker with whom he had seven children; and so on. Two sets of eyes. Two pens. Two visions of the world.
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Scott Abbott is the author of Fictions of Freemasonry: Freemasonry and the German Novel. He has translated Peter Handke’s A Journey to the Rivers: Justice for Serbia (Viking) and Handke’s play Voyage by Dugout: the Play of the Film of the War (PAJ). Abbott has published reviews of books and art in The Bloomsbury Review, Open Letters Monthly, and Catalyst Magazine. He is Professor of Philosophy and Humanities at Utah Valley University and has published literary-critical articles on Goethe, Schiller, Kleist, Thomas Mann, Rilke, Grass, and Handke. He lives in Woodland Hills, Utah. Zarko Radakovic is the author of several experimental novels published in Belgrade, including Tübingen, Knifer, Ponanvljanje (Repetitions, with Scott Abbott), Emigracija (Emigration), Pogled (The View), Vampiri & Razumni recnik (Vampires & A Reasonable Dictionary, with Scott Abbott), Strah od Emigracije (Fear of Emigration), Era, and Knjiga o muzici (A Book about Music, with David Albahari). He has translated more than twenty of Austrian author Peter Handke’s books into Serbian and has been traveling companion and translator for Handke during repeated trips to Serbia, Bosnia, Montenegro, and Kosovo. He collaborated on three performances with performance artist Slobodan Era Milivojevic (1971, 1973, and 1974). His recent work with Serbian/German artist Nina Pops includes collaboration on a series of collages that feature manuscript translations of Peter Handke’s novel Bildverlust (The Loss of Images, or Crossing the Sierra de Gredos) and Pops’ “translations” of the text into images. Radakovic edited an edition of the German literary magazine Nachtcafé on the theme of Walking, and more recently, with Peter Handke, an edition of the German literary magazine Schreibheft on “Literature from Serbia.” He has published essays on art, jazz, and literature. David Albahari described Radakovic as “one of the few absolutely isolated, independent, creative personalities of contemporary Serbian prose. . . . He deals with our language like a foreign language in the same way Beckett uses the English language and Handke the German language. . . . I think I will not be wrong when I say that Zarko . . . is the most radical Serbian writer of the present time.” He lives in Cologne, Germany.
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