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By Ranko Marinkovic

In his semiautobiographical novel, Cyclops, Croatian author Ranko Marinkovic recounts the adventures of younger theater critic Melkior Tresic, an archetypal antihero who comes to a decision to starve himself to prevent scuffling with within the entrance strains of global battle II. As he wanders the streets of Zagreb in a near-hallucinatory kingdom of paranoia and malnourishment, Melkior encounters a colourful circus of characters—fortune-tellers, shamans, actors, prostitutes, bohemians, and café intellectuals—all dwelling in a delicate dream of a society approximately to be replaced forever.

A seminal paintings of postwar jap ecu literature, Cyclops reveals a little-known standpoint on global conflict II from in the former Yugoslavia, person who hasn't ever sooner than been on hand to an English-speaking viewers. Vlada Stojiljkovic's capable translation, greater by way of Ellen Elias-Bursac's insightful modifying, preserves the notable brilliance of this riotously humorous and densely allusive textual content. alongside Melkior's trip Cyclops satirizes either the delusions of the righteous army officers who feed the nationwide bloodlust in addition to the wayward intellectuals who think themselves to be above the disagreeable realities of overseas clash. via Stojiljkovic's clear-eyed translation, Melkior's peregrinations exhibit how historical past occurs and the way the person realization is swept up within the tide of political occasions, and this is often finished in a method that would resonate with readers of Charles Simic, Aleksandr Hemon, and Kundera.

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Extra resources for Cyclops (The Margellos World Republic of Letters)

Sample text

Moreover, ‘the material perception and the symbolical imagination are continuous, as the part is continuous with the whole’ whereas ‘the allegorical form appears purely mechanical’ (191). The allegorical idiom, by contrast with the symbolic one, displays the fact that it is a construct. Clevinger’s physical appearance is flatly fictive: Cubism is a style of painting that draws attention to its frame and its flat surface. Heller’s Allegories of Money 43 Moreover, the relationship between the faces and the characters of Clevinger and Milo is purely mechanical, and made mechanistically explicit.

By contrast, the characters in Catch-22 are self-reflexively constructed – their fictiveness is fully in evidence – and this also suggests how much the system makes them what they are. The emphasis on how often the characters do and say and think the same things over and over makes them mechanisms rather than organisms. Heller’s point here is part again of the caricatural tradition, in this case that part which satirizes what Swift calls ‘the mechanical operation of the spirit’, where human behaviour is reduced to mindless, pointless and usually compulsive repetition.

Paul D, similarly, has hardened himself to such an extent that he has a ‘tobacco tin buried in his chest where a red heart used to be. ’ (72–73) In the realist novel an author might draw upon a caricatural image like that last one in order to define a personal inadequacy in an individual who would thus be contrasted with those characters, usually more central, who are sensitive and capable of love and are therefore celebrated by liberal humanist values. Here, by contrast, the origins of Paul D’s inhuman hardness of heart are located very deliberately not in him as an individual but as a general condition imposed by an appallingly inhuman system.

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