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Primerjalna književnost

PKn, letnik 26, št. 1, Ljubljana, junij 2003






Gašper Troha: PARTIZANSKA DRAMATIKA (1941–1945)




Tožbe zaradi obrekovanja v fikciji (npr. v romanu M. Pikala) so simptom postmoderne zakonske regulacije javnega diskurza in zamiranja ideologije estetske avtonomije. Zgodovinske podlage konflikta so iz 19. stol. (javnost, literarno polje, realizem, avtonomija subjektov umetnosti in prava). Teoretska podstava je opozicija fikcija – resničnost. Dekonstruirajo jo koncepciji mogočih svetov in preksvetne identitete ter referencialnost osebnih imen/opisov.

Fiction and Laws (Commentaries on the Pikalo case). Suits for slander brought against literature (e. g. the case of M. Pikalo's novel) are a symptom of postmodern legal regulations of public discourse and the fading of the ideology of aesthetic autonomy. The roots of the conflict go back to the 19th century (the public, literary field, realism, the autonomy of subjects in art and law). The theoretical basis of the lawsuits is the opposition between fiction and reality. It is being deconstructed by the concepts of possible worlds and transworldly identity and by the referentiality of names/descriptions.

Suits for slander brought against fiction (e.g. the case of Matjaž Pikalo's novel Modri e, 1998) are a symptom of the fading ideology of aesthetic autonomy and of the special role of writers in postmodern society. The roots of these legal disputes go back to the 19th century, when the legal repression of fiction, once used to secure the ideological monopoly of religious and secular authorities, begins to be legitimized by public moral and reputation of private persons or communities, and when literature, organized within an autonomous social field, paradoxically aims at the “effect of the real” (the trial of Flaubert for his novel Mme Bovary). Today's literature cannot find its legitimacy exclusively within its own field, the sense as to its characteristics is weakening, and so is the sense of what constitutes fiction. In public discourse, the same ethics holds for journalists as well as writers. In a court of law there is a confrontation of two equally legitimate interests of two subjects: of the writer's freedom of artistic expression on the one hand, and of the individual's right to privacy and good name on the other. An acceptable legal reasoning is presented by R. Posner, who states that the criminal liability of writers for slander should be minimized. The justification of lawsuits brought for slander in fiction is also made relative by the deconstruction of their theoretical basis, of the opposition fiction/reality. There is always something fictional in reality, and vice versa; the boundaries between the two fields are pragmatic and subject to cultural and historical change. Fiction is one of the possible worlds and is textually and ontologically homogenous. Besides fictitious characters, it contains versions of persons from extra-literary reality and intertextuality. Through the reference of names and descriptions they make or break transworld identity. This play with reality represents one of the charms, as well as the dangers, of literary discourse.



Besedilo se v okviru obravnave segmenta sodobnega ameriškega romanopisja, znanega kot blank fiction – oznako prevajamo s sintagmo pripovedništvo praznine – osredotoča na enega najreprezentativnejših romanov tega tipa, Ameriški psiho Bretta Eastona Ellisa (American Psycho, 1991). V njem razčlenjuje manifestacije potrošništva, kot se kažejo predvsem na ravni romaneskne pripovedi, ki junaka vsebinsko in formalno postavlja v vlogo absolutnega potrošnika. Prispevek ob primerih pokaže na Ellisove specifične narativne postopke, ki osrednjega akterja reducirajo na raven retoričnega sredstva, in na tej osnovi razvija tezo o popolni skonstruiranosti in posledično ne(z)možnosti junakovega tudi zgolj fikcijskega obstoja.

Blank Fiction. The Obsessive Consumerism of American Psycho. Within a wider treatment of a segment of contemporary American fiction, known as blank fiction, the paper centers on one of its most representative novels, American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis (1991), and examines its manifestations of consumerism, apparent mostly on the level of the narrative, which puts the main hero in a role of the absolute consumer in content and in form. Referring to the examples of Ellis’s specific narrative devices which reduce the main character to a mere rhetorical instrument a thesis is developed that points to the total constructedness and, consequently, utter impossibility of even only fictional existence of the central figure.

The paper deals with a group of contemporary American novels, which appears in the 1980s and is today known mostly as blank fiction. First, it briefly presents the main characteristics of the phenomena and its temporal and spatial context; then it explores one of its most representative novels, American Psycho by Brett Easton Ellis (1991). Within this framework the article focuses on the dimension of consumption and its manifestations which are apparent in the commercialization of the novel and the fame of the author, as well as in narrative, which puts the main hero Patrick Bateman in the role of the absolute consumer in content and in form.

Regarding the former, the article refers to the moral panic accompanying the publication of American Psycho, and as for the latter, it presents different forms of Bateman’s media consumption and shows his uncanny defective reflex of commodifying everything and everybody. As a basis for the theory of consumption the cyclic model of lust – purchase (consumption) – disappointment – (renewed) lust, established by Colin Campbell, is used and adopted with specific characteristics of postmodern consumption.

Referring to the examples of Ellis’s specific narrative devices which reduce the main character to a mere rhetorical instrument a thesis is developed that points to the total constructedness and, consequently, utter impossibility of even only the fictional existence of the central figure. As such, Patrick Bateman functions as a messenger of an inhumanly commercialized and increasingly materialistic society, and that indirectly explains and justifies the inconceivable evil of American Psycho.


Barbara Orel: WILDERJEVO GLEDALIŠČE V GLEDALIŠČU (Drama v dialogu s pripovedjo)

Članek obravnava opus gledališča v gledališču Thorntona Wilderja (Spalnik Hiawata, Naše mesto in Zaenkrat smo se izmazali), v katerem avtor postavi dramo v dialog s pripovedjo. Izpostavi jo zvrstni kritiki, da bi izstopil iz tradicionalnega recepcijskega modela v gledališču, in obenem pokaže, da struktura gledališča v gledališču (oziroma igre v igri) predstavlja most med absolutno in epsko dramo, med njuno zaprto in odprto formo.

Wilder's Theatre within Theatre. The drama in a dialogue with the narrative. The article discusses Thornton Wilder's theatre within theatre (in Pullman Car Hiawatha, Our Town and The Skin of Our Teeth), in which the drama is put into a dialogue with the narrative. The author subjects it to formal criticism in an attempt to step out of the traditional theatrical model of reception, while showing that the structure of theatre within theatre (or rather of a play within a play) represents a bridge between the absolute and epic dramas, between their closed and open forms.

In his theatre within theatre pieces (or rather plays within plays), Thornton Wilder put the drama into a dialogue with the narrative. In his plays Pullman Car Hiawatha (1931), Our Town (1938), and The Skin of Our Teeth (1942) he introduced a Director in the role of a narrator to establish the dramatic action as a play within a play, and used this form to protect the autonomy of the playwright in relation to the other creators of the theatrical performance. In the process of its staging, the dramatic piece of art is always subject to change, even to digressions from the playwright's intentions; and this is what Wilder was hoping to avoid. His solutions were not unlike those of his contemporary Bertolt Brecht: he was led to epic theatre by precisely the opposite tendency, the tendency to autonomize the stage and return theatre to theatre. By articulating with this form of a play within a play a way of expressing his own theatrical statement, Wilder stepped out of the traditional theatrical model of reception where a performance appears as an absolute, self-contained whole, separated from its audience, as well as from the playwright himself. He introduced to absolute drama events of epic proportions (with numerous sets, panoramic landscapes, ductile units of time and a host of people, most notably in The Skin of Our Teeth), without undoing its basic stipulations (tendencies towards succinctness, finality, and direct representation). At the same time he also deconstructed or rather multiplied the basic dramatic categories (action, space, time, character) within the Aristotelian ideal of the dramatic unities and therefore turned a closed dramatic form into an open one. Wilder's plays are an emblematic and possibly the most obvious example of the coexistence of absolute (closed form) drama and epic (open form) drama as the two opposite, ideally typical concepts of structuring dramatic material in the history of the theatre.



Ionescova drama Plešasta pevka, t.i. »drama absurda«, postavlja v izhodišče dramski govor, ki je v svojem najglobljem pomenu odraz govorice kot prvine človekove tu-biti. Ionescova drama razkriva tragiko govorice v tisti razsežnosti, ko govorica izgubi svojo izvorno funkcijo, ki se imenuje nagovor biti, in postane samo še upovedovanje bivajočega – postane torej govorica absurda.

Heidegger, the problem of speech and Ionesco's Bald Prima Donna. The Ionesco play The Bald Prima Donna, the so-called “drama of the absurd" centres around dramatic speech, which in its deepest sense is a reflection of speech as an element of human existence. The Ionesco drama reveals the tragic nature of speech to the extent that the speech looses its original function, which is called the address of being, and becomes nothing more than a verbalization of the existent – it becomes the language of absurdity. 

This reflection on the Ionesco play The Bald Prima Donna has tried to capture with a phenomenological approach the issue of speech, which was, due to its specificity, named “the language of absurdity”. Absurd language is one of the elements of “the drama of the absurd”, which dictates the tragic dimension of the play from its outset. In the Ionesco drama, to talk absurdity means to put into words the existent in the space and time of the absent being. Therefore an absurd situation is nothing more than existence emptied to its utmost. The time of this existence is the time of the absent being, therefore human speech cannot address it, it cannot call it into presence. What the speech is left with is absurdity – empty talk that begins and ends in the worn-out phrases of the bourgeois salon. Since there is no way out of an absurd situation, human language itself will continue to disintegrate, disintegrate until unrecognisable, into its meaningless individual phonemes. The role of the counterpart to the void language of existence is played by the speech of being, which is present in the play in the language of symbols, in an almost ritual summoning of things into presence. The only person capable of this kind of speech is the maid Mary, a unique kind of rebel against the constants of existence. Therefore a majestic cataclysm is her vision of the ultimate purification of the space of existence, which would then be able to open up to being and call it into presence.


Gašper Troha: PARTIZANSKA DRAMATIKA (1941–1945)

Med drugo svetovno vojno se je v partizanih razvila presenetljivo obsežna gledališka dejavnost, ki je vplivala na nastanek številnih dramskih tekstov. V tem članku skušam opisati njihovo podobo na podlagi analogije s commedio dell'arte, ki se omejuje na tipičnost oseb in situacij. Stalnost osnovne sheme s sedmimi tipi sicer napeljuje na domnevo, da je bila ta dramatika ideološko cenzurirana, a nekateri kompleksnejši teksti, ki se bližajo tradicionalni meščanski drami, prej dokazujejo, da je šlo za posledico razmer in prepričanj piscev.

Partisan drama (1941–1945). There was lively theatrical activity in the partisan army during the Second World War, which also stimulated the production of a number of theatrical texts. This article deals with the structure of these texts by using an analogy with the commedia dell'arte, which is limited to fixed characters and situations. The stability of the structure, having seven characters, at first glance suggests, that this production was under the strict censorship of the communist ideology; however, some texts present a more complex form that resembles traditional bourgeois drama and hence show that we should rather understand this structure as a result of the genuine beliefs of the authors.

During the Second World War there was lively theatrical activity in the partisan army. What remains of it, apart from the memoirs of the participants, are numerous theatrical texts that have been studied by Viktor Smolej and Ferdo Fischer. However, former analyses seem unable to investigate them without bias and therefore either take their aesthetic value for granted, simply because they are a reflection of the nation's struggle for freedom, or deny them any aesthetic value for ideological reasons.

This can be seen even through the historical development of the terminology of the genre. Partisan dramatic texts used to be called sketches, as this stresses their brevity and unpretentiousness. As this term is unsuitable for longer and more complex texts, that are rare, but nevertheless exist, Matjaž Kmecl in his Mala literarna teorija (1976), uses the term agitka, which is taken from the Russian revolutionary and social-realistic theory of drama. This term seems much more suitable, as it does not specify the length of the pieces, but conveys the main quality of these texts, being agitation and propaganda for the partisan movement and communist revolution. It has finally been adopted by Andrej Inkret in Enciklopedija Slovenije (1987).

This article tries to approach agitka in an unprejudiced manner to find its immanent structure. It was most interesting to discover that it resembles the historical genre of commedia dell'arte, especially in having fixed characters and situations. This structure consists of seven characters that position themselves between two extremes, the positive end being the hero, and the negative, the domestic traitor.

When seeking out reasons for this, it is usually believed that it was the result of very strict censorship in the partisan army, and that agitka is therefore too ideological to be recognised as an example of artistic literature. However, what strikes us as odd is that there are some complex pieces (Žene ob grobu, Težka ura…) that resemble the structure of bourgeois drama. This is why it is probably more accurate to think of agitka as a result of especially harsh historical and political circumstances that required a genre which could be easily written, staged and, finally, also controlled by the leadership; but at this point we have to add that this censorship was not nearly as strict as it was usually believed to have been, which is demonstrated by the variety of the pieces. Therefore we have to admit that agitka is more or less the reflection of the genuine beliefs of its authors.


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