Liminal Balkans

Broj 2 - Godina 6 - 06/2016

Uvodnik

It was our presumption that we would be able to tackle and cover, or at least sketch and therefore possibly define the equivocal notion of the Balkans that led us to the idea of dedicating an issue of our journal to this task. However, as these things usually end up, we were proven wrong. The notion of the Liminal Balkans even after the issue was concluded remained the same – a threshold, an elusive construct whose discursive diversity and complexity only instigated numerous new questions, together with new starting points for alternative debates, coming in the end full circle to the initial premise presented by Maria Todorova about the Balkans as a transitional space...

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Izdvojeno

In The Secret of Chimneys (1925) Agatha Christie uses the all too familiar Balkan stereotypes of backwardness and brigandage, but not – as was usually the case at the time – as an Other to illustrate British virtue, but as a mirror to British vice. It is Britain, not the fictional Herzoslovakia, that is a nation of brigands. Herzoslovakia remains relatively unknown, as none of the novel’s scenes take place there, but it is described by disinterested observers as democratic and prosperous. In London, however, the Foreign Office plans to overthrow its government to secure oil rights promised by a royal heir-in-exile to a London-based financial consortium. Keywords: Christie, Balkans, Romania, oil, brigandsAgatha Christie’s The Secret of Chimneys (1925) has been faulted for being on the one hand a frothy mix of Anthony Hope and P. G. Wodehouse (Thompson 143) and on the other a mishmash of popular ethnic, national and regional stereotypes – including those of the Balkans (Todorova 122). It is, however, a far more subtle work than such accounts suggest. Though the influence of Hope and Wodehouse can certainly be seen in the novel’s story of princes in disguise (reminiscent of The Prisoner of Zenda) and a country house setting that would have reminded readers of Blandings, its main plot addresses an important theme –and in exploring it Christie takes the Balkans very seriously. Oil has been found in the Republic of Herzoslovakia and the Foreign Office, represented by George Lomax, has secured the pledge of the exiled Prince Michael Obolovitch “to grant certain oil concessions” to a consortium led by Herman Isaacstein if the Obolovitchs are restored to power. In other words: to secure those concessions the British Government has committed itself to the overthrow of Herzoslovakia’s government. The Foreign Office’s interest in the Balkans might not have surprised Christie’s readers. The Anglo-Iranian Oil Company had held a monopoly on the extraction, refining and sale of Iranian oil since 1901, and a similar monopoly on reserves in south-eastern Europe would have been welcome at time when large profits were to be made from investment in Romanian oil (Benson 55, 267-68; in the years after the War, British investments in the Romanian oil industry were the largest of any foreign country: Hichens 428). However, even so, the idea of financing a coup to secure British interests – though it might have made sense to the Foreign Office and the City – was not one Christie expected her readers to accept....

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5 June 192312 June 192317 June 192319 June 192319 June 1923Marina Tsvetaeva was born in Moscow in 1892 and began to publish in her teens, to multiple good reviews by Russian literary critics. She was a working contemporary of Anna Akhmatova, Osip Mandelstam, Boris Pasternak and Rainer Maria Rilke, all of whom were important to her as rival, lover, correspondent and mentor, respectively, and as they should have been, in her view, from time to time, as her views of their roles in her life were changeable.Tsvetaeva left the Soviet Union in 1922 to reunite with her husband after a four-year wartime separation during the Russian Revolution. She lived as an exile in Berlin, Prague and Paris through 1939. The period of exile in Prague, lasting from August of 1922 to May of 1925, was a very productive period, with new poems arriving every other day or so, or sometimes two poems a day, until her son Georgy (nicknamed Mur) was born in 1924, when the poems slowed to a relative trickle....

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Sjecka peršin, sitno, sitno. Peršin mora biti sitno nasjeckan jer ako nije, mali neće mesne okruglice, a mesne su okruglice Pacovo omiljeno jelo. Sitno sjecka peršin, a poslije i češnjak, tako sitno da se gotovo ne vidi; nevidljiv češnjak da ga mali ne vidi i da ne kaže da ima češnjaka, što Paco najviše voli kad je riječ o mesnim okruglicama. Pa s rukama u smjesi mljevenog svinjećeg i junećeg mesa, pola-pola, mijesi kao nekad, kad je imala vremena mijesiti blato i izrađivati vrčeve, tanjure, pepeljare. Mijesi, posoli i malo popapri, tek toliko da Paco primijeti, a mali ne, pa još jaje i krušne mrvice. Mijesi, a na televiziji, u pozadini, svira ona pjesma za koju ne zna kako se zove, ali koja ide ovako pa pjevuši. Izgleda gotovo sretno dok s čistom pregačom mijesi, pjevuši la-la-la dok joj fluorescentno svjetlo s televizora u pozadini bliješti u oči, mijesi smjesu koju više sigurno ne treba mijesiti, ali koju ona i dalje mijesi jer voli zariti ruke u vlažno meso i osjetiti ga među prstima. Mali je u svojoj sobi, na računalu, a ona je mirna jer zna da neće čuti kako se razbija prozorsko staklo ili kako pada kakva polica, zna da može skuhati večeru pa čak i pripremiti sutrašnji ručak. A požuri li, možda sjedne par minuta pred televizor i nešto pogleda prije nego što stigne Paco. Da malo rastrese misli dok slaže rublje. Razmišlja o tenisicama koje bi morali kupiti malomu, narastao je pedalj, i o lancu na zahodskoj školjci koji se ponovno pokidao. Razmišlja da su joj manšete na rukavima kaputa pohabane, ali da do sniženja mora proći još dva mjeseca. Razmišlja o konobaru iz kafića pokraj tvornice, kamo prijepodne odlazi na kavu, koji joj namiguje i uvijek pokloni ona dva bombona koje toliko voli. Razmišlja da je smjesa sada nesumnjivo gotova pa počinje oblikovati savršene okruglice, oble, uzorne, i slaže ih u apsurdne redove na keramičkom pladnju koji joj je darovala šogorica kad su se vjenčali. ...

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Ne, kažem.Znam, kad kažem „ne“, to je to s nama, čist račun, rekli smo, karte na stolu, vino, keksi, humor – presuhi; klima, poljupci, zemlja za cvijeće – prevlažni. Dogovori umjesto sapunica kao kod drugih. Ne gubimo vrijeme na stvari koje nikoga ne zanimaju, čak ih ni na televiziji ne gledamo, nemamo televizor, imamo pametnijeg posla, i zabavljamo se jer znamo da se svijet ne može spasiti, mi smo spašeni samo privremeno, vremena je malo i nikada ne bismo skočili, ali osjećali smo se tako živima dok su nam se noge klatile preko ograde na terasi zgrade. Gledala sam vrhove svojih tenisica, stražnja svjetla automobila koji su se tamo dolje redali jedan za drugim poput crvenih mrava, gurali se u kolonama kroz uske ulice, noge mi još nikada nisu djelovale toliko kratko.Kao na moru na madracu na napuhavanje, rekla sam i ugrizla se za jezik, koji je viski razvezao jer nisi izgledao kao da imaš madrac na napuhavanje.Samo te voda nosi kad padneš, objasnio si, zrak te ne nosi, a ipak si bio tako siguran u sebe, nikad nisi pogledao dolje, nikad se osvrnuo da pogledaš zabavu koju ostavljaš za sobom, nisi ništa propustio niti se ičega bojao, pa ni neoprezna tapšanja po leđima....

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