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On the Road to Gilead, or The World as It Shouldn’t Be: The EYE Is On Central Europe


Petković, Nikola
On the Road to Gilead, or The World as It Shouldn’t Be: The EYE Is On Central Europe // Margaret Atwood 80: Central European Interpretations Margaret Atwood 80: interprétations de l’œvre en Europe Centrale
Budimpešta, Mađarska, 2019. (predavanje, međunarodna recenzija, neobjavljeni rad, znanstveni)


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Naslov
On the Road to Gilead, or The World as It Shouldn’t Be: The EYE Is On Central Europe

Autori
Petković, Nikola

Vrsta, podvrsta i kategorija rada
Sažeci sa skupova, neobjavljeni rad, znanstveni

Skup
Margaret Atwood 80: Central European Interpretations Margaret Atwood 80: interprétations de l’œvre en Europe Centrale

Mjesto i datum
Budimpešta, Mađarska, 28-29 11. 2019

Vrsta sudjelovanja
Predavanje

Vrsta recenzije
Međunarodna recenzija

Ključne riječi
utopia, dystopia, ustopia, theonomic society, antiutopian narrative, matriotism, geoculture

Sažetak
Margaret Atwood’s novel Handmaid's Tale takes a special place in the dystopian (ustopian for that matter) fiction. It is not only for its literary brilliance but also for sets of re-emerging conditions both in the US and in Europe. The rise of extreme right in US might be attributed to the consequences of Donald Trump’s presidency (but only superficially) while European Right-to-Fascist turn in Hungary, Slovakia, Poland, Czech Republic and Italy (to name the most prominent few) unfortunately recontextualizes not only Handmaid’s Tale but also all other previously mentioned antiutopian narratives. While looking closely to class, gender, sexual, religious… ‘identity’ construction in Handmaid’s Tale (due to the fact that the second part or the conference’s title is: “Central European Interpretations, ”, I will revisit some crucial loci of late eighties and early nineties discussions on Central Europe, then either as a metaphor of protest against two prominent blocks: East and West (as seen by Claudio Magris in the 80s and Franz Kafka in the 30s), Eastern Asia (as seen by Joseph Brodsky) or a place of cultural utopia that strongly suggests erasing the prevailing patriotism and replacing it with much needed matriotism (Joseph Conrad). Shortly before and after the fall of Berlin Wall (1989), the dream of Central Europe became actual once again. There were two major conferences held where the most prominent writers and intellectuals (to name just a few: (Saul Bellow, Peter Esterhazy, Gyorgy Konrad, Danilo Kis, Czeslaw Milosz, Josef Skvorecky, Josif Bridsky, Salman Rushdie, Ian Mc Ewan, Derek Walcott…) shared their assessment of then present and their dreams of the future ; one in Lisbon (1990) and one at Rutgers University in New Jersey (1992). Among all that gave Central Europe green light into existence and discussed it from the affirmative position, not as phantasma in heads of intellectuals (as E. Ionesco pointed out) but as the real region, shared their enthusiasm for Central Europe’s post-communist future. Unfortunately, the utopia discursively articulated in the past turned to have the dystopian present. Instead of reclaiming democracies, most of Eastern and Central European nation-states turned out to be monoideological, monoconfessional, xenophobic, closed patriarchal political entities whose borders are strongly fortified thus betraying the very idea of Central Europe as a family of peoples (Kundera) whose pluralism is perhaps best described in the famous allegory of The Danube, as a ‘bastard river’ whose source is not clearly defined, whose tributaries are sometimes (like in Passau where Ilz, Inn and Danube meet) wider and deeper than the principal river—a river that, unlike Rhein, the “Wagnerian custodian of race”, perfectly contains and depicts the plural, multiethnic, multiconfessional, trans and multicultural facets of the region. (Magris) Instead of one fluent geocultural entity, after the Cold War, we end up finding our unfulfilled dreams in a serial perspective of claustrophobic nation states all over the region. Their borders firm, barbed wires erected, migrants replaced old enemies, and almost everything human turned out to be strange, while everything strange ceased to be human. At the same time, Donald Trump is building the wall with Mexico thus giving carte blanche and opening up the new paradigm of exclusion in the resto of the ‘civilized’ world, that in times when Margaret Atwood wrote her novel (she published it in 1985) was imaginable only in fiction. As Aristotle put it in his Poetics, “history represents the world as it is, while fiction represents it as it should be”. He mainly had in mind Greek tragedy. In dystopian narratives, in this case focus is put on Atwood, it looks like looking at the present (80s) literature represented the world “as it shouldn’t be”. Regardless of the outcome of history: the realization of utopia or turning utopia into dystopia, literature, on the other hand, always warns us of the shortcomings of history in making while its conditional (narrating in the mode of: as if) tends to correct the world. Close, claustrophobic, exclusive, violent reality of Atwood’s theonomic military dictatorship known as the Republic of Gilead, not only depicts possible consequences for our region (too) but cries for our regional readings of her, from today’s perspective, obviously prophetic narrative. My paper thus offers a twofold perspective: employing regional (Croatian and Central European) gaze in reading an American, actually Canadian, novel, and reading the novel attempting to find similarities between its literary invented reality and geopolitical, geostrategic, ethnic, racial, gender… politics and realities of Central Europe.

Izvorni jezik
Engleski

Znanstvena područja
Interdisciplinarne društvene znanosti, Filologija, Interdisciplinarne humanističke znanosti, Književnost



POVEZANOST RADA


Ustanove:
Filozofski fakultet, Rijeka

Profili:

Avatar Url Nikola Petković (autor)


Citiraj ovu publikaciju:

Petković, Nikola
On the Road to Gilead, or The World as It Shouldn’t Be: The EYE Is On Central Europe // Margaret Atwood 80: Central European Interpretations Margaret Atwood 80: interprétations de l’œvre en Europe Centrale
Budimpešta, Mađarska, 2019. (predavanje, međunarodna recenzija, neobjavljeni rad, znanstveni)
Petković, N. (2019) On the Road to Gilead, or The World as It Shouldn’t Be: The EYE Is On Central Europe. U: Margaret Atwood 80: Central European Interpretations Margaret Atwood 80: interprétations de l’œvre en Europe Centrale.
@article{article, author = {Petkovi\'{c}, Nikola}, year = {2019}, keywords = {utopia, dystopia, ustopia, theonomic society, antiutopian narrative, matriotism, geoculture}, title = {On the Road to Gilead, or The World as It Shouldn’t Be: The EYE Is On Central Europe}, keyword = {utopia, dystopia, ustopia, theonomic society, antiutopian narrative, matriotism, geoculture}, publisherplace = {Budimpe\v{s}ta, Ma\djarska} }
@article{article, author = {Petkovi\'{c}, Nikola}, year = {2019}, keywords = {utopia, dystopia, ustopia, theonomic society, antiutopian narrative, matriotism, geoculture}, title = {On the Road to Gilead, or The World as It Shouldn’t Be: The EYE Is On Central Europe}, keyword = {utopia, dystopia, ustopia, theonomic society, antiutopian narrative, matriotism, geoculture}, publisherplace = {Budimpe\v{s}ta, Ma\djarska} }




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