Item description for Between Exile and Asylum: An Eastern Epistolary (Ceu Medievalia) by Predrag Matvejevic...
A collection of letters, written by a most extraordinary and yet typical representative of the East European intelligentsia, sent from Moscow, Mostar, and more recently Paris and Rome, where the author has lived since leaving war-torn Bosnia.
The writer Matvejevic, vice president of the International PEN Club, was born in Yugoslavia, the son of a Russian migr. He first went to the USSR in 1972, as a guest of the Writers' Union, and described to his father the land that Matvejevic senior had not seen since leaving Odessa in 1921 (and that he would never see again in his lifetime). The past and the present, as well as his hopes and fears for the future of Russia fill the rest of his letters, which are addressed to members of the intellectual elite of Europe.
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Studio: Central European University Press
Est. Packaging Dimensions: Length: 9" Width: 6.3" Height: 0.8" Weight: 1.05 lbs.
Release Date Jan 1, 2005
Publisher Central European University Press
ISBN 9639241857 ISBN13 9789639241855
Availability 0 units.
More About Predrag Matvejevic
Predrag Matvejevic was born in Mostar, Herzegovina, not far from the Mediterranean. A leading European public intellectual and writer, he has taught at the Universities of Zagreb and Paris (the Sorbonne) and is now Professor of Slavic Studies and East-Central Europe at the University of Rome (La Sapienza). Michael Henry Heim, Professor of Slavic Languages and Literatures at the University of California, Los Angeles, is the award-winning translator of books from Russian, Czech, Croat, Serb, Hungarian, German, and French, by authors including Kundera, Hrabal, Kis, Esterhazy, Konrad, and Enszensberger.
Reviews - What do customers think about Between Exile and Asylum: An Eastern Epistolary (Ceu Medievalia)?
Fine experiemental work full of history Jan 14, 2005
Matvejevic has written other important books (Mediterranean: A Cultural Landscape; Yugoslavism Today; I Signori della guerra), but this is a special case. His personal stake is palpable from the first page, when he makes it clear that his ideal reader, at least in the opening, is his father who lies ill in a Zagreb hospital. The cast of characters who appear and reappear throughout the book -- Danilo Kis, Bulat Okudzhava, Joseph Brodsky, et al. -- come to seem familiar and intimate by the end of the book, something like they must have been to the author, and thus their passing becomes even more poignant.
This appears to be a work of non-fiction at the beginning, but the more I read, the more I wonder to what extent this might not be an instance of experimental writing, an exercise of sorts, creative non-fiction at the least. The vehicle is the letter, whose virtues Matvejevic expands upon in the key passage "On Letters, Open and Closed," when he meets Viktor Shklovsky. He returns to the form of his book at the very end, once again suggesting that this book is something of an experiment, perhaps a kind of novel of apprenticeship, where the hero-narrator, naive and trusting at first, grows more and more disillusioned.
His disillusionment concerns the loss of a generation of like-minded friends and colleagues, but also a dramatic sea change in the political destiny of Eastern and Southeastern Europe, as the author looks on, commenting (in a letter to Andrei Sinyavsky), "In the end, in the face of what's happening, I would like to find a role for myself other than that of gravedigger. But today's script appears to offer no better role than that." He too, of course, is one of the members of the intelligentsia that he sees passing from the stage of history.
There is a lot of interesting material here on Soviet and Yugoslav cultural politics, but also much that is personal and compelling in the author's own story and in the subtly insinuating manner he chose to convey it. Fascinating stuff.