Writing Europe: What Is European about the Literatures of Europe? : Essays from 33 European Countries

By Ursula Keller; Ilma Rakusa | Go to book overview

think logically (causally), I understand confidently from reading Beckett that a Jan Potocki and a Laurence Sterne must have existed and written, that a Racine and a Rutebeuf must have written and thus formulated questions about time. If I know how to think logically, if I am let us say J. S. Mill or Claude Levi-Strauss, if I am a positivist or a structuralist, a Marxist or a follower of any scientist sect, through Beckett I shall come quite certainly to Augustine, because Beckett is a consequence of Augustine, just as shards of glass are the consequence of a ball breaking a window. But, unlike Jakob Böhme, I shall believe that Augustine was not present at the production of Beckett's play because everything, including the dead and meaning, is subject to a mechanical order, and a dead person cannot appear in the present and nor can a consequence affect its cause (Beckett Augustine).

That is how mystics and determinists think (that is mystics of scientist religion). But what do I think? How do I feel Augustine and Beckett relate to one another, this day to that distant day in which St Francis of Assisi first felt that a wolf was his brother? Those are the questions that must be answered by a man who wishes to write and make conscious his relationship to his craft and to the culture in which he is writing. At the heart of literature lies the question of man's existence in time, to write means to give form to time and to articulate man's relationship with that form, so that we wonder about time as we write, we wonder even when we are not aware of it. And that is how it is with culture. Culture is above all and more than anything else the shaping of time, a system of assumptions and rituals which give form to a day and a year, which define the thresholds in the life of the individual and the community, and prescribe the steps by which those thresholds are crossed. Perhaps the unbreakable connection of culture with time is nowhere so obvious as in Europe: not for one moment of its history was Europe identical with its geographical limits, not for one moment of its history did Europe have “spatial unity” which would define it as a cultural identity, never did Europe have linguistic or educational unity. If there exists anything on the basis of which Europe exists as a kind of cultural unity, then it is time—a shared assumption about time which has connected all the parts of Europe

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Writing Europe: What Is European about the Literatures of Europe? : Essays from 33 European Countries
Table of contents

Table of contents

  • Title Page iii
  • Table of Contents v
  • Ursula Keller Germany 1
  • Ilma Rakusa Switzerland 21
  • Guðbergur Bergsson Island 29
  • Andrei Bitov Russia 35
  • Hans Maarten Van Den Brink the Netherlands 48
  • Mircea Cărtărescu Romania 58
  • Stefan Chwin Poland 68
  • Aleš Debeljak Slovenia 80
  • Jörn Donner Finnland 96
  • Mario Fortunato Italy 108
  • Eugenio Fuentes Spain 117
  • Jens Christian Grøndahl Denmark 125
  • Durs Grünbein Germany 136
  • Daniela Hodrová Czech Republic 146
  • Panos Ioannides Cyprus 157
  • Mirela Ivanova Bulgaria 169
  • Lídia Jorge Portugal 177
  • Dževad Karahasan Bosnia 188
  • Fatos Lubonja Albania 198
  • Adolf Muschg Switzerland 208
  • Péter Nádas Hungary 216
  • Emine Sevgi Özdamar Turkey 225
  • Geir Pollen Norway 237
  • Jean Rouaud France 249
  • Robert Schindel Austria 258
  • Ivan Štrpka Slovakia 273
  • Richard Swartz Sweden 281
  • Nikos Themelis Greece 289
  • Emil Tode Estonia 299
  • Colm Toíbín Ireland 309
  • Jean-Philippe Toussaint Belgium 317
  • Dubravka Ugrešić Croatia 325
  • Dragan Velikić Serbia 335
  • Tomas Venclova Lithuania 345
  • Māra Zālīte Latvia 355
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