Images on the Solstice: From Peter Handke’s Novel “The Fruit Thief” (Die Obstdiebin)


Images arise deep within himself, the narrator writes, and describes them with a single sentence I’ll translate here as solstice work, on a day following a week of darkness and anxiety, on a day the sun stands still (sol-stice) and promises to return to brighter days:

Again and again the images flicker and flare up, even today, inexplicable, enigmatic these silent momentous images from the past, never a human figure, as a rule from a distant past without connection to anything current, beyond summons of memory and intentional recollection, flicker and flare up, flash and disappear again, immeasurable by any time reckoning, absent for weeks, then one given day swarming, shooting through me, free of any meaning, or meaning anything, and I experience and greet them each, especially after a longer absence and on days of distress, even when they don’t blaze but just flicker, smolder, smoke, greet them with “So, still, not everything is lost!”

About Scott Abbott

I received my Ph.D. in German Literature from Princeton University in 1979. Then I taught at Vanderbilt University, BYU, and Utah Valley State College. At Utah Valley University, I directed the Program in Integrated Studies for its initial 13 years and was also Chair of the Department of Humanities and Philosophy for three years. My publications include a book on Freemasonry and the German Novel, two co-authored books with Zarko Radakovic (REPETITIONS and VAMPIRES & A REASONABLE DICTIONARY, published in Serbo-Croatian in Belgrade and in English with Punctum Books), a book with Sam Rushforth (WILD RIDES AND WILDFLOWERS, Torrey House Press), a "fraternal meditation" called IMMORTAL FOR QUITE SOME TIME (University of Utah Press), and translations of three books by Austrian author Peter Handke, of an exhibition catalogue called "The German Army and Genocide," and, with Dan Fairbanks, of Gregor Mendel's important paper on hybridity in peas. More famously, my children are in the process of creating good lives for themselves: as a model and dance/yoga studio manager, as a teacher of Chinese language, as an ecologist and science writer, as a jazz musician, as a parole officer, as a contractor, as a seasonal worker (Alaska and Park City, Utah), and as parents. I share my life with UVU historian Lyn Bennett, with whom I have written a cultural history of barbed wire -- THE PERFECT FENCE (Texas A&M University Press). Some publications at
This entry was posted in Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s