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

By Ursula Keller; Ilma Rakusa | Go to book overview

was it that the ruling Communists, after they had seen that their idea had failed, did not resign, but clung to power and persisted in their crimes? This was a question of particular relevance to Albania up to 1990, because Albania experienced no de-Stalinization, no thaw, and no perestroika, but on the contrary, only increasing Stalinist terror.

In order to express this concern, I chose my material from perhaps the most universal source with which my background had supplied me: the Greek mythology that, as I have said, felt so much a part of me at the “center of the world” where I found myself. Taking as my point of departure Sophocles' drama in which Oedipus, once he discovers from the Delphic oracle that he is the cause of the curse of Thebes, surrenders his rule, gouges out his eyes, and is left abandoned and banished by the Thebans, I had the idea of recreating the myth of Thebes and of Oedipus, but taking it in the opposite direction. In short, this is the story of the novel:

The rain that lashed men into fury (a symbol I created myself) first waters the dragon's teeth that Cadmus has sown, feeding and bringing forth from the earth the children of the Dragon, who are the citizens of Thebes (the creation myth of Thebes). This rain sometimes falls on Thebes, and the Thebans, drinking the water that floods over everything, are transformed into beasts, turning against each other, murdering and tearing one another to pieces. Meanwhile the rain also brings the Sphinx, who announces that only the solving of his riddles will save the city from the curses and periodical bloody disasters that the rain causes. But the solutions offered to the Thebans as their salvation turn out to be nothing but myths that are sooner or later exploded. The solution that my Oedipus offers to the riddle of the sphinx is also of this kind. And so Thebes falls under a new curse. My Oedipus becomes aware of this; he knows that he brought about the curse by murdering his father and sleeping with his mother, that he has given a wrong answer to the riddles of the Sphinx, and that his continued rule will merely perpetuate the general curse. Yet, unlike the Oedipus of Sophocles, he does not surrender his rule, but on the contrary embarks on a policy of terror in order to retain power, liquidating anyone who reveals the truth.

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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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