Esey
24. 12. 2019
Milo Lompar

Odyssey’s Bitterness?

Even though primarily a poet, Mirko Magarasevic is renowned as an
essayist, anthologist, translator, and travel writer in Serbian literature.
As an essayist he combined a sense for analysis of literary works, disin-
tegration into elements of the poetic structure, with contextualisation
of poetic meaning in the broader systems of the language, history, cul-
ture and tradition. Tradition – in his perspective – is composed of facts
of both Serbian and European literary experience. Hence, Magarasevic
analytically, culturally and historically illuminated many works of
Serbian poetry, from Classicism and Romanticism until contempor-
ary Serbian poets. In the tradition of European poetry, he directed his
attention to Anglo-Saxon poets: with particular interest to Ezra Pound.
As a translator, he extended his essayistic concentration and put in
special effort into translation of Pound’s works. As an anthologist, he
came out long ago: in nearly every issue of the influential Belgrade’s
magazine Savremenik, from the late seventies of the XX century, in the
column “The Anthology poem” we could have read knowingly select-
ed verses of Serbian poets from different epochs, of different poetics
and character, from Sterija (Tombstone to me by myself ) and Sarajlija
(Debauchery), Laza Kostić (That face of yours), until contemporary
poets like Milan Komnenić (Who are you, Who are you). His every
selection was followed by the inventive critical review of the poems
themselves. As a travel writer, Magаrasevic in a new and interesting
way illuminated spaces of the Mediterranean, especially Greece and
Turkey, by combining cultural and historical knowledge and literary
evoking of spaces, people, customs and habits, into storytelling that
represents true value of our travelogue. He confirmed the accurateness
of Slobodan Jovanović’s thought: “It is not hard to describe what one
sees but it is hard to see what is worth of describing.” Magarasevic can
actually see and describe all that is worth of readers’ experience.
This many-sidedness of our poet has its place also in his poetry.
The ability to be aware of things in disorderly but not in orderly array,
as a feature of travelogue storytelling, represents a visible quality of his
poetic perception, as if it is flowing out of it. Profound knowledge of
Serbian and European poetry, convincingly presented in his work as
an anthologist, has its place in poet’s choice of diction and tone with
which he chooses to speak in his own poetical creations. Essayistic
concentration reveals reflexive character of poet’s verses as his logical
inner choice, as one kind of poetical kinship by choice; powerful critic-
al impulse, shown particularly in revealing Serbian critical poetry, has
its place in poet’s verses that touch poet’s present moment, express his
ethical attitude and determine additional character of poetical actual-
ization. This visibly corresponds to – a more recent – political essays
from the book Čija je istina? (Whose Holds the Truth) and the book of
poetry Ode i pokude (Odes and Reprimands).
All these features occur conjoint in dominant poetical dimension
of the latest poetry book Mermaids’ Song: in culture-historical and re-
flexive dimension of verses of our poet. By deciding that this dimen-
sion be poetical and poetic center of his poetry book, Magarasevic
demonstrated again his affection towards poetical line that – in the
second half of the XX century – manifested Miodrag Pavlović and
Jovan Hristić as historical basis of the verses that acquires originality
and value of poetic expression only in manifold process: by identify-
ing with the poetic situation that educes, by evoking of its intensity
within new articulation, and by inscribing of inventive solution into
a basis that fulfilled reader’s spirit. Only those three moments secure
poetic reach in poetical creation conceived in this way.
In the poetic basis of the poetry book Mermaids’ Song we find
odysseyian theme as one of the most complex and the most demand-
ing themes of European poetry. Sole wanderings, separation from
the land, swinging on the water and swaying on the wind, miracu-
lous world of encounters and dangers that mark unknown moments
of human understanding of oneself and of the world, as newly dis-
covered forms of the birth of independent spirit within an individ-
ual, that gradually separates itself from the collective, represent im-
portant meaning of Odyssey’s topos in European literature: all until
Joyce’s Ulysses. As a poet of distinctive poetic and culture-historical
awareness, Magarasevic shapes different moments of odysseyian com-
plex of meanings so that he could give his own artistic redaction.
When the poetic basis is layered with contents of European experi-
ence, individual articulation must fulfill basic situation. How can we
recognize it in this poetic experience? Surely it is necessary to create
– as in the third of the beginning poems – Mediterranean poetic land-
scape. The warmth and glow of the scene, “the mirror of the sea in the
eyes of basalt,” mixes with the conscious about the poet, “in a ritual
as the bard spoke,” to be a sign of a virtual reality, confirmed by the
concluding point: “the measure of the sea and the legends”. The bond
of the sea, as a nature, as a call for traveling, and the tradition, as Odys-
sey as the one who roams around it, marks seemingly calm and un-
blurred background on which a strange difficultness of consciousness
can barely be seen – or it is just a mirage. It seems to us that it is the
true center of poetic experience, although all affection – as always –
Odyssey’s figure takes away, who hears and knows it all, even the Siren
song and resists it.
In these poems there are remarkably evoked literary reminiscen-
ces. In accordance with humanistic motives – like gentleness and good-
ness of the father – that fulfil his character, Hector’s relationship with
his daughter is described while antique tradition knows only for his
relationship with his son Astyanax, or Laodaman and Laomedon.
But, the sole sublimeness and goodness of the greatest Trojan hero has
poetic point in the experience of the “beauty of the world.” For, the
great Hector of the flashing helmet, the pillar of the state and its last
sword, carries within his soul a quite ordinary dream: “Sparrows and
other birds to watch / to open her a horizon of green / width with the
inchantations by all the beauties of the world”. Thus, Hector is being
poetically marked as a wish for one yes that is addressed to a quiet and
hidden existence. In a stylization like this there is an indirect paral-
lel with Odyssey: as unexpected closeness by choice. Just as Odyssey –
in Plato – chose new life in a form of an inconspicuous and quiet man,
Hector dreams “but to watch all colours of flower-bouquets instead
/ playful to pick them in spring time.” Hence, Hector in his dream
experience of the world is in the place where Odyssey – through the
winding roads of his travels, as levels of individuation – barges. There-
fore, Hector’s dream and Odyssey’s late reality coincides because they
both touch deeper existential truth than the heroic one: that indirectly
indicates that poetic situation is crystalized in a distant and by a reflec-
tion guided spirit of our poet. For, hidden and suggested coincidence
seems like a trace of individual redaction within one proven tradition-
al continuity.
There is no doubt that a layered erotic disposition of a Siren song
is presented. That is how Achilles’s enamor for Penthesilea is being
shaped: in a moment when he is killing her. This famous motive of
antique tradition that in the art of literature and the art of painting
had many actualizations, it was even the central motive of Kleist’s play,
implies many associative and allusive circles in which core is the knot
of death and love, and our poet gives it a distortional resonance in
Thersites’s laughter: “And Thersites watches Achilles from aside, /
curves his lips and Achilles mocks.” In an emphatically pathetic scene
of recognition of mortal love occurs ‘depathetisation’ that came from
modern distrust. For, Thersites is an epilogue of this uncondition-
al erotic exaltation, the late one, just as Achilles’s heroic grandness
became late. But our poet has turned all his attention to a moment
of Thersites’s mocking, not to a consequence of that mocking: famous
Achilles’s fury that brings death to a hunchbacked, bandy-legged with
a lame foot but also smart and mean soldier of the Hellenic army. In
the poetic focus, hence, is mocking – the feast of forces of late times,
untouched by the force of deep and later discovered passion.
But in our poet’s stylization, Thersites’s appearance is not deprived
of indirect ties with Odyssey. Because Odyssey closed Thersites’s mouth
open in protestation in the Trojan War: Thersites is therefore possible
as a mockery, as a ludicrous echo of the impossible (heroic, gigantic)
love, but he is not possible as a protest. While Odyssey is close: this in-
direct tie naturally complies with antique tradition according to which
Thersites’s shadow – in the reign of the dead – chooses the company
of Odyssey’s mortal enemies. Lit up in a moment when he is mocking
Achilles, Thersites remains annunciated in his hidden dispute with
Odyssey also. That shows that in the book Mermaids’ Song there is a

Esey
24. 12. 2019
Radojka Vukčević

The Reception of John Updike’s Couples in Serbia and Montenegro

The paper aims to provide an introduction to the study of the recep-
tion of John Updike’s Couples in Serbia and Montenegro. This novel is
still alive and continues to evolve into new works and shapes–therein
lies much of its challenge and fascination. The “afterlife” of Updike’s
Couples will be studied on the basis of the works of Hans-Georg Gad-
amer, and H. R. Jauss: Gadamer’s (2004) theory that the meaning of a
text is constructed by a fusion of horizons between the present and the
past, and Jauss’ (1982) esthetics of reception which explored the inter-
action of the creator of the new work and its audience. An overview
of the changing contexts for publishing John Updike’s Couples, and
reactions to it notes a strong response by Serbian scholars and a rather
modest reception of his works in Montenegro. This provides a vital
contextual setting for discussing the textual reception of not only this
novel, but also of the American literature in Serbia and Montenegro.

Key words: reception, Updike, Couples, Serbia, Montenegro
Being a part of the comparative studies of literature, the research of
reception has a long global tradition, which is also present in Serbia
and Montenegro. Svetozar Ignjačević pointed out two decades ago that
“our literature” belongs “to the circle of the so called small cultures…
[That is] ready to accept and absorb the achievements of world litera-
ture and to react to them, sometimes with some delay, but always with
specific, autonomous and developed critical awareness.” (Ignjačević
1997: 299) He adds that receptions of foreign literatures in our culture
are mostly studied at universities (M.A. and Ph. D thesis). This does
not mean that there is not more space for further research even though
much has been defined, and “it seems that only some empty spaces are
left to be filled from time to time, and along the way, some innovations
and possible reevaluations are expected in accordance with the latest
critical theories.” (299)
However, the latest critical approaches concerning the reception
of Couples in Serbia and Montenegro are of no great help. Despite the
lack of critical approaches, Gadamer’s (2004) theory of reception, which
claims that the meaning of a text is constructed by a fusion of horizons
between the present and the past, and Jauss’ (1982) esthetics of recep-
tion, which explored the interaction of the creator of the new work and
its audience, will provide a sufficient foundation for this exploration.
It has become evident that readers have a new role, which inspired
one of our scholars, Aleksandar Jerkov, to define the relationship be-
tween the work and the reader in this way: “Reception is a passion-
ate need of the text for the reader (as) the text invites and implicates a
reader, it does not exist autonomously regardless of the consciousness
of a reader”. (Jerkov 1992: 202) It is obvious that there is a dynamic
relationship between a text and a reader. The reader is asked to be open
to the different aspects of the work and “to possess an active and cre-
ative attitude.” (202) Apart from the readers, literary historians should
possess this attitude, as seen by Jauss, since they are the ones who have
to play the role of the interpreters of the past from today’s point of view.
He points out the role of the horizon of expectations which is formed
on the basis of the previous understandings of forms and genres, and
the polarities of poetic and practical language. (Jauss 1978: 60) Its es-
thetic value is defined depending on this horizon: it enables defining of
the artistic value of the work of art based on its impact on the supposed
audience. Jauss supports Gadamer’s belief that during the process of
reading the horizons of an author and an interpreter, former and cur-
rent, melt together. In this manner the historical distance between the
past and present is overcome. The advantage of hindsight allows for
our potential interactions with all the previous interpretations in addi-
tion to our own. Our scholar of great distinction Petar Milosavljević
points out the importance of breaking the previous balance in order to
study scientific facts through a new lens and thus be able to strive for
a new balance. (Milosavljević 1991: 553) We have to take into account
both the context and the time when the text was created as well as
the time that the reader lives in, and that is why the interpretation of
one work is taken as an encounter of time horizons between an author
and a reader. Further, Jauss agrees with Gadamer that it is necessary
to understand the question a text raises and answers, but contradicts
Gadamer in the notion that every reader can be an interpreter. Jauss
claims that a reader evaluates a text which becomes a part of tradition
after it has been accepted. It has to be defined according to its historical
position and meaning. (Jauss 1978: 356)

Serbia and American Literature in XIX and XX century
Serbia is a country that used to be an independent state, which became
a part of the great Ottoman Empire before becoming a part of the
Kingdom of the Serbs, Croats, and Slovenians in 1918, and then Yugo-
slavia in 1941. Following the dissolution of Yugoslavia, Serbia became a
part of the state of Serbia and Montenegro, and finally an independent
state in 2006. Throughout almost all the later periods of the XIX and
XX centuries (tsarist, communist and democratic periods), American
literature, its TV, and theatrical dramas were widely received. Thus,
Emil Sîrbulescu in his dissertation “Reception of American Literature
in the Balkans” informs us that significant American playwrights, pro-
ducers, directors, and their TV dramas and theatre adaptations had an
outstanding reception in Serbia. Specifically, it was Saul Bellow who
was translated and best received in the Balkans, according to Sîrbu-
lescu’s research. He also discovered that much criticism both posi-
tive and negative came from celebrated critics such as Rade Vojvodic,
Zoran Gluščević and Jara Ribnikar. (Sîrbulescu 2016: http://www.ucv.ro)
Our research confirms Svetozar Ignjačević’s statement that,
throughout its history, Serbia has been more than a thankful recipient
of American literature, and it reacted to it mostly without any delay,
but with specific, autonomous and developed critical awareness. This
is confirmed by Zoran Konstatinović’s study Comparative Perspectives
on Serbian Literature, more specifically in the chapter of his outstand-
ing book “Foreign Writers in Our Culture”. (Konstatinović 1993: 62-
125) He points out that it was in the 1960s that the reception of Amer-
ican literature in the Serbo-Croat speaking areas started to be studied
at our (Yugoslav) universities. The choice of the writers was made ac-
cording to their popularity in their culture and others, and the strong
influence they had over a certain period of time. From Sonja Bašić’s
dissertation “Edgar Allan Poe in Croat and Serbian Culture”, Konstat-
inović discovers that enthusiastic reception of Edgar Allan Poe began
with the 1863 translation of his short story “Black Cat”. Poe’s later re-
ception included not only translations but also critical texts written by
the most respectable critics from former Yugoslavia: Milorad Šapčanin,
Matoš, Svetislav Stefanović , Bogdan Popović, Vinaver, Goran Kovačić,
Isidora Sekulić, Slamnig and Šoljan (Sasa Simovic with her doctoral
dissertation on Criticism of Edgar Allan Poe will join them in 2013) .
The reception of American literature continued into the 1970s when
Ljiljana Babić writes about Walt Whitman in Yugoslavia (Acta Neo-
philologica, Ljubljana, IX, 1976), while Dunja Detoni-Dujmić research-
es the reception of English and American poetry of XX century. Ileana
Ćosić focuses her dissertation on the presence of American drama
in Belgrade in the period from 1920 to 1970, at Belgrade University.
Her findings show that the best received authors were Arthur Miller,
Tennessee Williams and Eugene O’Neill. Ljiljana Kontić continues the
research into American drama in Belgrade in the period from from
1970 to 1980. The American novel reaches a great popularity in former
Yugoslavia in the period between the two WWs. It is the social novel
which is studied in the doctoral dissertation of Omer Hadžiselimović:
“Serbo-Croat criticism of the American social novel, from 1918 to 1941”
(Sarajevo, Filozofski fakultet, 1978).
The research of the modernist tendency in American literature
(Hemingway, Faulkner) began only after the WW2, that is, from the
1950s, and we learn a lot about this from Gvozdan Eror’s study: Faulk-
ner in our literary criticism (Eror 1975: 709-766). Zoran Konstatinović,
the previously mentioned author, gives a special credit to Zoran Gav-
rilović’s dissertation “Insights: American and Yugoslav understand-
ings of Literature Between the two WWs” (Uočavanja. Američka i
jugoslovenska misao o književnosti između dva rata) because this re-
search connects American and Yugoslav literature of this period on
the basis of typological analogies.
The interest in American literature has intensified during the last
three decades thanks to the research (Svetozar Ignjačević, Tihom-
ir Vučković, Mirko Magarašević, Vera M. Savić) and translations by
Serbian respectable translators (most notably: Aleksandar Petrović;

Esey
24. 12. 2019
Mira Svonja

Jelica Saula: all geographies of one soul

To take the five officially published books by Serbian-Canadian poet
Jelica Saula, born Adamovic (1939), to read them again, to absorb all
contents again, then deal with them within an essay … is not easy and
it is a difficult plan to achieve. Especially if the essayist knows Jelica,
although not personally, knows her by letters, phone calls…When
someone knows the writer closely, there is a danger the essayist could
become biased, more personal. However, the power of Jelica’s poetry,
the power of words, goes far beyond that personal approach. The in-
credible refinement of Jelica’s sophisticated observations and reflec-
tions of her soul of what is being observed, thought, felt, experienced
… in one interesting but quiet life, and on two continents. The extra-
ordinarily powerful contents of these books do not allow dealing with
anything personal but metaphysical and universal in timeless coordin-
ates of the sense-mind-soul-spiritual code if the reader has a thinking
mind. Every person has that code. Someone understands and listens to
it and is guided by it, while someone else is yet to discover it…
The two continents of Jelica’s curriculum vitae begin on the right
side of the globe, in the beautiful flat land Srem, in Serbia, in Europe.
The first Adamovic family idyllic nest and Srem as subframe of the
Besenovacki Prnjavor village, which houses the oldest Fruška Gora
monastery, has had such a large and tumultuous history that even
some serious countries cannot “boast” about it. World War II was the
culmination of historically great tribulations throughout this country-
side. Adamovic’s second nest was formed at small town Ruma, the
geographical heart of Srem. Even before and after the war, the quiet,
pious parents, despite their humble lives, gave the world four daughters
and two sons. Jelica was somewhat different from the other children
with a certain reticence in her quiet thoughts, always writing down
something, or drawing her perceptual and emotional “pictures of the
world” in and around her. Her life led to art studies at the Belgrade
Pedagogical Academy. Also, the same life unfortunately demanded
that these studies come to an end by a steady job in one of the largest
transport companies at Ruma. But that same life lead her older broth-
er, one of her sisters, and also Jelica when she was 32 years old – to
the other, left side of the world map, across the Atlantic, to beautiful
Canada, Ontario, Hamilton.
During her formal involvement in a completely new system of life
and work, Jelica met her life partner Boris Saula. They started with
great matrimonial efforts to build their future. Two similar lives and
almost identical souls lasted together for 37 years. But, as life some-
times can bring misfortune – instead to live their beautiful love –Boris’s
long-lasting and severe leukemia with rare improvements had made
their lives filled with dealing with hospitals, doctors, difficult therapies
instead of starting a family. His condition had rare and brief improve-
ments, which were short breaks from their harsh realities …All those
years, Jelica angelically watched over her husband the way only Serb-
ian women can. But after over twenty years of this struggle, they both
painfully lost the war for life. So, in the sad year of 2007 Boris left, Jelica
stayed. From then until today, Jelica is still on two continents with all
her being, much more in Canada, understandably … and much less
in their Serbia, Srem, Ruma, also understandably. Jelica’s book “Pulse
Leap” – NEA Publishing, Toronto (2008) is a dedication to this magnifi-
cent love, devotion in good and evil… until death breaks them apart.
For all these streams of life on the two continents, except when she
was too small for school, when Jelica could not read, write and paint/
draw, her inseparably loyal companions were – pen and paper. They
were the “guardians of fire” of a perceptive, emotional, spiritual and
soulful life in a myriad of verses, mostly thought-provoking, reflexive
poetry. Although extraordinary also as a prose writer, Jelica prefers to
write poems that are not always in rhyme, although rhymes are not
necessary for a poem to be called a poem. Also, many inspirations in
her creative life have been marked with drawings, paintings, collages
… There are many fine drawings, artfully inspired impressions so un-
usual and innumerable, either finished or not. They are almost equal
in number to her poems. Many solo, group, thematic, etc. exhibitions
are some of the proofs of her artistic talent.
Jelica’s books are almost always beautified by her metaphysical
drawings, which can lead a more sensitive reader through some other
journeys “from inside”, in addition to those poems. Also, her imagin-
ation was able to enrich some poems with a non-classical form. She
“rhombuses” or “triangles” them, so the poems are in the form of
proper rhombuses and triangles, or make them differently visual by
starting each line in the poem with the same letter. This has rarely been
one of the other poets’ skills, but in Jelica’s case it entices the reader
to experience this impression of poem, and also audio if one “listens“
to it – follows the rhythm of the verses leading from voice to whisper.
There are several examples in the book “Conversations with silence/
Starry eyed soul”, “Bjelic” doo, 2017., Ruma, half of the book is in Eng-
lish language.
Both of Jelica’s works are, in a picturesque way, described – a
silk-knitting of the deepest and finest “weaving” in one’s soul about
what would the great Serbian poet Laza Kostic called “’tween wake-
fulness and the dream”. Each of us often have that sense in our soul/
mind. But while Laza’s “dreaming-knitter“ is dedicated to his heart,
and God granted all of us others, even ordinary ones with it, can rec-
ognize ourselves in it… so far as Laza’s (only) heart was described, in
Jelica’s poetry everything inside and around the individual – is core,
whether far, near, or beautiful, or not-beautiful, or cheerful, or sad …
Whether it be God, the Sun, the Moon, night, day, colors, rain, snow,
tree, leaf, wind, birds, pigeons, children, women, people – red, black,

Рубрике

ДОНАЦИЈЕ

Претплатите се и дарујте независни часописи Људи говоре, да бисмо трајали заједно

даље

Људи говоре је српски загранични часопис за књижевност и културу који излази у Торонту од 2008.године. Поред књижевности и уметности, бави се свим областима које чине културу српског народа.

У часопису је петнаестак рубрика и свака почиње са по једном репродукцијом слика уметника о коме се пише у том броју. Излази 4 пута годишње на 150 страна, а некада и као двоброј на 300 страна.

Циљ му је да повеже српске писце и читаоце ма где они живели. Његова основна уређивачка начела су: естетско, етичко и духовно јединство.

Уредништво

Мило Ломпар
главни и одговорни уредник
(Београд, Србија)

Радомир Батуран
уредник српске секције и дијаспоре
(Торонто, Канада)

Владимир Димитријевић
оперативни уредник за матичне земље
(Чачак, Србија)

Никол Марковић
уредник енглеске секције и секретар Уредништва
(Торонто, Канада)

Уредници рубрика

Александар Петровић
Београд, Србија

Небојша Радић
Кембриџ, Енглеска

Жељко Продановић
Окланд, Нови Зеланд

Џонатан Лок Харт
Торонто, Канада

Жељко Родић
Оквил, Канада

Милорад Преловић
Торонто, Канада

Никола Глигоревић
Торонто, Канада

Лектори

Душица Ивановић
Торонто

Сања Крстоношић
Торонто

Александра Крстовић
Торонто

Графички дизајн

Антоније Батуран
Лондон

Технички уредник

Радмило Вишњевац
Торонто

Издавач

Часопис "Људи говоре"
The Journal "People Say"

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Контакт

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т: 416 823 8121


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т: 416 558 0587


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