Books: A Formidable and Unique Austerity

THE LEFT-HANDED WOMAN by Peter Handke

Translated by Ralph Manheim; Farrar, Straus & Giroux; 89 pages; $7.95

Austrian Peter Handke, 35, first achieved fame in Europe as a flamboyantly avant-garde dramatist. His best-known play, Offending the Audience, did just that: insulted by the actors' dialogue and by the evident purposelessness of their actions, spectators stormed the stage when the drama was produced in Frankfurt. Handke's reputation in America is altogether more modest and is chiefly based on four novels that are less strident than his plays but every bit as puzzling and unsettling. The Left-Handed Woman, a novella, will provoke more admiration and...

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