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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Avionsku kartu kupila sam u jedan ujutro u somalijskom internet-caféu otvorenom dvadeset četiri sata na dan u prizemlju zgrade u Hackneyju, gdje sam imala garsonijeru. Nekoć sam imala laptop, ali sam ga prodala. Ne zato što mi je osobito trebao novac, iako mi je uskoro i zatrebao jer je poslije bilo nemoguće naći posao. Stavili su u novine našu sliku, znate, s odmora na Kreti, na koji smo otišli četiri i pol mjeseca nakon što smo se upoznali; ja držim nož i vilicu povrh slabo pečena odreska kao kanibal, a njegovo suncem opaljeno lice pritisnuto je uz moje, oči poluzatvorene jer smo cijeli dan pijuckali nešto na vrućini. Upravo mi je rekao da me voli i na toj fotografiji prokleto blistamo. Slika je idealna za ono što su novine htjele prikazati; posrećilo im se pa su je dobili samo zato što je visjela iznad moga radnog stola na poslu, a poslije se, naravno, nisam tamo smjela vratiti. Ali ne, nije bilo zbog novca, prodala sam laptop jer nisam mogla prestati pretraživati internet. Uzela sam tri slobodna dana. U call-centru to se može, uzeti slobodno u zadnji tren. Prečesto to radim jer se katkad ne mogu suočiti s djevojkama s narančastim puderom i njihovim licima koja kažu „al ono, fakat” i dečkima s jeftinim, sjajnim kravatama pastelnih boja koje bazde na cigarete Benson & Hedges dok drsko šeću pokraj mene. Od svih njih sam starija deset godina i budući da je neki konzultant odlučio da će voditelji ureda spremnije kupovati fluorescentne žarulje koje im nude poslovno odjeveni telefonisti, nosim svoju nekadašnju odjeću, elegantne suknje i bluze; kao da nosim duha. Dobro mi ide, doduše; u glasu mi se čuje osmijeh, tako kažu, pa su me zadržali iako svaki dan nastane gužva kad ne žele sjesti za stol pokraj mene. Mislim da ti klinci, koji stoje vani u kaljuži dok između smjena puše i jedu piletinu i pomfrit iz malih kartonskih kutija, imaju vrlo jadne živote. U početku sam ih čak sažalijevala, ali nekomu poput mene sažaljenje je luksuz. Mislila sam i da će im dosaditi da me provociraju, ali u dulje od godinu dana koliko ondje radim, još im nije dosadilo. ...

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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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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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Onoga dana kad sam navršila osam godina, moja sestra – koja nije podnosila da i na sekundu maknu pogled s nje – iskapila je cijelu šalicu izbjeljivača. Abi je imala tri godine. Prvo se osmjehnula, možda baš od gađenja, zatim je nabrala lice u preplašenu grimasu bola. Kad je mama ugledala praznu šalicu kako joj visi iz ruke, problijedjela je kao i ona.„Abi-moj-bože”, bilo je sve što je mama rekla. „Abi-moj-bože.” I još je prošlo nekoliko sekundi prije nego što se pokrenula.Prodrmala ju je za ramena, ali Abi nije reagirala. Povikala je na nju, ali Abi ni tada nije reagirala. Otrčala je do telefona i nazvala tatu, a kad je dotrčala natrag, Abi je i dalje stajala, sa šalicom što joj je visjela iz ruke. Mama joj je istrgnula šalicu i bacila je u sudoper. Otvorila je hladnjak, izvadila mlijeko i nalila ga u čašu. Zagledala se u čašu, potom je pogledala Abi pa uopet čašu te je na kraju bacila i čašu u sudoper. Tata, koji je radio jako blizu kuće, smjesta je stigao, ali mama je svejedno stigla još jednom odigrati cijelu točku s čašom mlijeka prije nego što je on potrubio i viknuo....

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