On Banat Literature

Banat_map.svgAn interesting essay on minority writers (specifically Romanian-German writers) by Richard Wagner, originally from Romania, now living in Berlin, and once married to Herta Mueller, in today’s  Neue Züricher Zeitung (German article complete, here). Below three paragraphs from the piece in my hasty translation:

The unrecognized periphery is fascinated by the middle, a center that shows its ignorance of the periphery in a quasi offensive manner. It says, I don’t need the border, but it says this rather loudly and clearly. The Middle not only provides accepted opinion, it also has all the money.

The periphery’s claim — and desire — for normalcy is neutralized by the middle’s defense mechanisms with the help of mythification. Paul Celan’s phrase about a landscape in which humans and books lived, has found an afterlife in the Baedeker. Thus the periphery becomes the brand name Czernowitz. Celan is looked at as if he were a rare stamp, the beauty and meaning of which are now transferred to it, the literary periphery. Even today he is seen as the Mauritian “blue penny” of the collection; with Herta Mueller a Nobel prize winner has been added. In the political domain, however, the exegetes prefer to motion back to the “Banat Action Group,” which tried to do the split between Janis Joplin and Roger Garaudy, the Prague spring and the Vienna Group back in the seventies. The periphery permitted it.

Emigration into the Middle is always also a capitulation before the periphery’s coercions. Once arrived at the center, the minority writer will soon come to realize that his dilemma remains unchanged. Disenchanted and tenacious at the same time, he now unpacks the periphery, in terms of language too.  Examine the role foreign words and neologisms have played for Oskar Pastior or Paul Celan.  Or the importance of dictionaries and specialist dictionaries for these authors. The reference point is primarily the written, not the spoken word.

(Visited 52 times, 1 visits today)

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *