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I don’t like realistic and natural descriptions of people, even if they are magisterial like those of the 19th century, in Stendhal and Flaubert, or in a different form, like Tolstoy’s and Dostoevsky’s. It’s alien to me. I like strong outlines, like in Romanesque art. That is to say, the outline gives form, and inside the form, the reader or observer can come to meet the person. I was searching for a different epic, for what I found as a reader of Medieval epic poems; they let me live in the personalities. I intended to contemporize them as well in My Year in the No-Man’s-Bay, in Crossing the Sierra de Gredos, and in At Night Over the River Morava. These, at their core, are medieval novels, epic poems more than novels. In this sense, I don’t believe as much in the novel as in the epic, the story that comes from afar and is balanced toward the distance. In other words, I am an enemy of psychological writing.

Peter Handke interviewed by Cecilia Dreymüller...

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