Blesok no. 106, March-April, 2016

The Principle of Freedom vs. The Traps of Fear
on Aleš Debeljak’s poetry

Katica Kulavkova

The Principle of Freedom vs. The Traps of Fear

Translated from Macedonian: Elizabeta Bakovska
If it is considered that with every reading the poem passes the way from a person to an above-personal expression, thus transforming the other’s expression of the poem into one’s own, personal expression of the reader, then the “universalization” of the poetic world is fulfilled via the initiation of the other’s expression into one’s own, by adopting the poetic vision as one’s own, which on the other hand implies marginalization of the category one’s own (author). The difference between one’s own and other’s view of the world is erased and the space of shared images of the world is opened. In the space of spiritual and literary communication, “property” and ownership categories become secondary. The joint space of the author and the reader is the shared vision and discrete understanding, which is the other name for recognizing oneself in the other and his identity.
Therefore, the question asked by Aleš Debeljak in his prose poem, from his cycle “Elegies from the North” (Мигови страв, 1990): “Do you recognize yourself in this poem?” (Космополис, 2010: 12) is legitimate.
[1] This question is implicitly directed to the reader and explicitly to the lyrical subject and the other face of the poet (oneself), and even to the imaginary collocutor of the poem (even if it is the divided I!). The question of the recognition is constantly open, before every poem, with every reading, with every facing with the world and its images. Maybe this act of recognition of the reality intervenes in the fictional world, and it becomes important to cherish the “sense of reality, which changes like shifting archipelagos in the South Seas”.
Taking into consideration these signals of the presence of (the intimate shadow of) reality in the poetry of the Slovenian, South Slavic and European poet Aleš Debeljak (1961, Ljubljana),[2] I will give myself the liberty to contextualize the interpretation of his poetry regarding the cultural and historical situation of the end of the XX century and beginning of the XXI century. In these frames, the context will refer also to his essay, i.e. socio-politiciologal and philosophical understanding of the Yugoslav habitus and the meaning and consequences of the breakdown of the Yugoslav federation (approved as “Atlantis”), understood as a parable of the Balkanization of Europe and the world, published in the Croatian translation of the book The Balkan Den (2014).
Each “Balkanization“ is followed by a new integration, Europeisation and globalization. Each fragmentation is followed by a new structure (new system of relations), new frames, borders and groups of the fragmented parts. A new satge, new directing setup of the same prototext. On top of it, in the XXI century, the very texture of the societies is being revised (not only the one of states), their identities, branded with the strategy of fluid, changeable, but also transitory identities, the national and demographic engineering. There is a psycho-social environment of planting fear established, on all grounds: (1) the fundamental fear of death metastasized into a fear of horrible death; (2) the fear of meaninglessness and absurd, lack of meaning in living, more precisely suffering because of the lost meaning of life, the lost home (state), displaced nations and friends; (3) the fear of loneliness or isolation, modus of life in enclaves of ghettoes (already not only individual, but also collective, and part of the collective is also projected in the personal identity!) and, finally, (4) the fear of freedom, the panic fear of freedom which blocks, paralyses the persona and created invalid individuals.
As far as this fear is concerned, the fear of freedom, one can say that Aleš Debeljak’s poetry is free from it, that is constantly sets itself free from fear by opposing it, showing it that it is possible to feel the pleasure of the freedom of thought, expression and speech, movement, self-presentation, identity, style, way of living… And not only that, freedom in Aleš’s poetry is a condition without one cannot be, one cannot survive. More than that, Debeljak’s poetry if an ode to freedom. It is a liberation act, which with every new poem conquers the space of freedom. Therefore the impression of certain “lightness” of the expression in the poems,[3] the impression that the poems were written with easiness and they are read with easiness, free of pretentiousness, depression, artificial closeness and sophistication. We have into consideration ligtness which is elegant and lucid. It is lucid especially in the finale of the poems when it makes twists that revaluate the semantics of the poem and imply an effect of satisfaction in the surprise, in the twist. We have into consideration the lightness  that does not flirt with freedom, but rather creates an atmosphere of freedom, feeling, delusion and illusion of freedom. We have into consideration an intellectual habitus which defies and strives to a turnover, essential turnover, not a turnover-because of a-turnover.
This is the key to the Debeljak’s poetry charm – to attract with its narrativeness and confessionality, with its rootedness into personal experience and in the experience with various types of collective existence (the world in the former Yugoslav state, new para-state frames of the European Union, the discrepancy between the political axiology and reality…). Between the lines of this narrativised confessionality (which seems like striving to convince us into the diary-memoir genesis of what has been said) there are, almost in a film manner, dynamic and edited, visual and emotional fragments and sensations. All of this is fitted into the dominant shaping modus of Debeljak, the sonnet and para-sonnet (with four quatrains or with two quatrains and two tercets), as well as couplets.  Looking like a sonnet, and still a “light” variation of the sonnet, free of the strict form of the sonnet (four stanzas with 4+4+3+3 verse, plus the rhyme, plus the acrostic).[4]

Thus, the “freedom principle” has become the basic creative principle of Debeljak. The freedom principle, because it is the conscious, creative principle of this poet, has also become the feature of his personality, a category without which it is impossible to show this poet, a category which has established the predominant identity of Aleš Debeljak. He does not even think of being politically correct. He is correct to himself and his understanding and feeling of reality. He is sensitive to the social reality, he deconstructs it in its core, not only as a profane sensation, but also as an ideology, as a strategy and construct. This status of the Mind in his poetry fits with his views given in a number of his essay collections, and here a statement of his from his book The Balkan Trunk (essays on literature of the “Yugoslav Atlantis”), also published in Croatian in 2011, will be quoted.[5]
The freedom principles defies fear of meaninglessness and loneliness, death and nothingness (The fifth poem from “The Description of History”, The Diary of Silence). “Will you die without spending all shapes of reality…” (2004: 19). Fear seems more present while evil is sensed, before facing it, before it happens and becomes reality. This is shown by the 1990 book Moments of Fear, at the start of the breakdown of Home and the beginning of Yugoslav hell. Then comes The City and the Child (1996), when Home is layered to different ways of Otherness and abroad, when the images of graves and borders, persecutions, migrations and suffering in the boiling “pot” or “powder cag” in the Balkans change as on a movie track. The poetic space in which this hellish movie takes place are the elegies and laments. This rhythm of the tragic continues in the next book Unfinished Odes (2000), a book in which Debeljak deviates from ten lyrical quatrains and takes over the challenge of the ode, of a supreme, almost Biblical incantation and prayer (“Mary Magdalene”, “In Front of the Throne”, etc.). The encounter with history with Debeljak takes place as facing with the Biblical moment of the lost Home and “nostalgia for the roots” and the poem is experienced as the Promised Land which gives consolation, forgiveness and ecstasy.
In this book, as in the next ones (Under the Surface, Smuggles) one can notice the crossing of the lyrical (personal) and epical (collective) images and temptations of the evil (war).  The form is stabilized as couplet, and it stores the reflections of “the basest of evils assumes a beautiful shape” (“Urgent Question”). In only several collections, Debeljak’s poetry passes the rod of fear, via setting itself free of fear, to rebellion. In the next collection, the strive to oppose and rebel is visible. The revolt is the matrix of the new view of the world, marked by clear awareness and readiness to resist stereotypes and bring back the meaning of existence. It is the introduction of the most recent creative phase in which Ales Debeljak’s poetry and essays are reflected into each other and shape his philosophy of survival, his post-Yugoslav perspective of viewing the world and freedom. His postmodern philosophy of existence created by the freedom principle and fear overcome.
Vladimir Arsenić sees Debeljak’s poetry (through the prism of the book Smugglers), as “pure lyrics” which opens the dilemma if it should be interpreted or simply read and experienced (Vladimir Arsenić, 6. 8. 2015 Kritika 144: Aleš Debeljak — 26.03.2012). I am not convinced that it is “pure lyrics” when it comes to Aleš Debeljak’s poetry. No, it has no tendency to melody free of meaning, it does not have the fragility of the transparent glass forms of intimate lyrics indifferent to broader reality and collectiveness. With Aleš every poem is sensitive to the broader reality, broader urban space (Ljubljana or some other), broader political space (from the past or the present), broader biographic space (of other writers and milieus), broader artistic space…
This is the genesis of the notifications of location and dedications/homages which accompany the poems and establish their semantic, referential, emotional and associative context. Because of this, the poems are abundant with stylistic-lexical indications that suggest a certain post-socialist existential and cultural background. The poems are free of the mimicry of memories, and they are not a storage of suppressed feeling and thoughts, they are not an initiation into a catharsis, but rather an act of meditation of the “antermonic” type – the images of the memories come, they are replaced with sequences of reality, we do not stick to them, they pass by, they flow freely, associatively, in an unpredictable rhythm, a bit capriciously, as a montage, as jazz improvisation, until there is an effect that will have the power to cover the poem with a new phono-stylistic and semantic hue. And all of this takes place within four quatrains, in the predictable form – unpredictable contents, for this modus to become a creative rule. The precisely rehearsed length of breath, expression, a technique of the poetic performance. Yes, Aleš Debeljak’s quatrains are a stage space for a mental performance, bohemian, urban and professional at the same time, equally eager of order and pleasure. Most of all, eager of Home. A warm home that offers happiness, rather than phrases and substitutes for happiness.
The open and awake consciousness if not caught in the trap of politically correct clichés that the overall socialist heritage is suspicious and it should be condemned and thrown into the garbage of history. The urge for twist and free articulation of thought with Aleš Debeljak is free and permanent. He looks with reserve (re-examines) this anti-socialist ideologeme upon his own original arguments. The lyrical subject, on the stage of the poem, strikes back. Poetry is the empire that strikes back. Therefore, it is not auto-referential, but rather meta-referential. And suggestive. Each poem sounds as if reminding the readers that the image of the world reality is not back and white, that socialism is not completely black, just as capitalism is not completely white. If we look at this regimes (civilization formations) from the point of view of condition humaine, we will hardly prefer the post-industrial, liberal capitalism, brutal to the extremes. It is the liberation from the cult media stereotypes about the justness of the liberal capitalism that sheds new light to close past, our former Yugoslav past and liberates from the stigma of the unjustly demonized socialism. The poets are still not the spokespersons of the post-socialist and post-communist transitions and they cannot be expected to be the exponents of capital-realistic view of the world. They, the poets like Aleš Debeljak, show that they are sensitive, intuitive and non-submissive, and therefore their voice should be heard. The voice of individuality. Marginalized in the society, but far from ephemeral.
In the very beginning of the prologue to the book of essays The Balkan Den, Debeljak elaborates his interest in the literature of “Yugoslav Atlantis” and the writers of “sunk land” in this way: “First, because I lived most of my life in that country. Second, because it was a space of a happy childhood. Third, because it gives me the inspiration to think the set-up of current Europe. Forth, because the Slovenian ‘entrance in Europe’ only marks the dark side of ‘exit from the Balkans’. Fifth, because I live in a world that does not interest me, faithful to something that is lost, my own home.” (2011, 9, translated from Croatian). The poet does not only have the right to tell the truth in his way, he is also expected to tell “his truth”, biased, subjective, evocative. It is not typical of poetry to be indifferent and ataraxic. It is a feature of tyrants and rulers. Therefore, the qualification “Yugo-nostalgic” is more profane and labelling than depicting the essence of the nostalgia for the lost Home. Aleš Debeljak reincarnates the image of this lost Home via the parable of Atlantis, sunk, lost, but not forgotten.
The poetry is indeed not historiographical construction material, but an associative, memorable, syncretic, intuitive, ritualistic and hypersensitive incarnation of segments from private archives. As other forms of precognition, it suggestively depicts the meaning of existence, recognizing the identity of Home. Everybody knows for himself where he/she felt Home. It is neither said, not proved with political declarations, lamentations and legal acts. “Things are empty. There is nothing in them”, says Aleš Debeljak in his poem “Without Anaesthesia”. People fill in things, giving them soul, creating their value, whether they are artefacts or biofacts. During the big moves, emigrations, exiles, persecutions, dissidentisms and (cultural, ethnic, family and individual) dislocations, such as the time after the breakdown of Yugoslavia, happiness becomes a memory from the past, an archaic sign of Atlantis. In such times of absolute transition, the poet tries to defend himself from the inflow of misfortune, by protecting his feeling of happiness. Via memories, dialogues, touches, via poetic and linguistic performances.
Thus, if there is some fear in Debeljak’s poetry, it is the fear of loneliness, the loneliness that is experienced when the individual or the collective are rooted out of their home into a “chronotope” foreign to them, when they are caught by the state of constant crisis, and behind the scene there is a total chaos (such as the bombardment in Roland Harwood’s play which takes place while the “King Lear” is played). In all of this leisurely, club, chamber, urban, segmented, improvised and sophisticated space in A. Debeljak’s poems, there is also a political angle, in the most subtle, philosophical meaning of the word. Maybe not as fierce and explicit as in Harold Pinter’s poetry, but political nevertheless. As political as it is necessary to understand the essence of the traumatized Yugoslav and Balkan Man at the end of the XX century. The political dimension of his poetry is not in the foreground, but is nevertheless present. The other, erotic dimension, also important for his poetry, is in the focus of the spotlight.
One could say that in the poetic work of Debeljak there is a certain tension between the two dramatic tensions – the political or erotic?[6] It relates to their positioning in the centre or in the background of the stage space in the poem. If we read Debeljak’s poetry chronologically, we will see that in the first collections, almost until the end of the XX century, the political perspective and topics are still absent, they are still not subject of his poetic interest. This is the case with The Names of Death (1985), The Diary of Silence (1987) and Moments of Fear (1990). Already from The City and the Child (1996) collection there is a different observation of the world, a different structure of relations between the poem and history, between the subject and the object of the poem, including the modified relation to the reader and the effect on the reading circles. From that book onwards the awareness of the cultural function of poetry and poet is increased, and the semiotics of the poem becomes more sensitive to the external signals (intertextual, citational and paracitational dialogue with different poets and writers, including those with Slovenian and Yugoslav provenience, reminiscence of Bosnian and Serbian situations, the collective spirit of the time, migrations and devastation of the former common state). This tendency is also reflected in the books Unfinished Odes of year 2000 (it could also be translated as Unfinished Praises), and most of all in his 2009 collection Smugglers.
The “cult” book of Aleš Debeljak,[7] The Diary of Silence, which confirmed him as one of the leading poets in Slovenia and Yugoslavia marks the chronotope of love and loneliness, as typical signs of a modernist individualism, a search for originality which is the other face of the search for oneself, marked with elements of self-perception, autofiction and artistic relation to the poetic language. These are strategies of breaking up with the silence without which the poetic language cannot achieve full personalization and maturity. This book is made by the cycles “Shapes of Love”, “Without Anaesthesia”, “Description of History” and “Catalogue of Dust”. Each cycle contains seven poems without titles. Every poem strives to belong to the whole, although it also functions as a separate whole. Every poem has a sonnet-like form (two quatrains and two tercets). Even then one can notice the need of this author to establish freedom in some genres of lyrical frames, by carving the poem to perfection, without slipping into epic comprehensiveness. This book is dominated by the desire to express passion and appetite, so that objects and words disappear (the second poem from “Description of History”). Even when he refers to history, the poet is curious to find out what are the “places that cannot be touched by history” (quotation from Normal Mailer and his The Armies of the Night). In this collection the world and history still sleep (2013: 44, paraphrased according to Bulgarian issue). The poem is open for the images of the dream that implies devastation, visible signs of fear and loneliness (“You are alone terribly afraid”, 2013: 45), but it does not admit that horrible, awful, nightmare things happen in reality. At that time, the poet refuses to sets himself free of fear, it is the counterpoint of his erotic challenge, indulgence with which he “jumps over the skies and drops unconscious” (2013: 32). He “listens the emptiness ringing” (2013: 24), wishes for “a language without verbs” (2013: 25), feels “powerlessness, hopelessness, sadness, silence is an escape into a foreign language” (2013: 21), he is all “hearing and sight” (2013: 20). In this collection there is a prevailing strive to find one’s own pair, double community, create one’s own “tribe”, overcome the youthful nostalgia for one’s mother’s home and milk, to create a home of one’s own. In his sonnets there is “…rude / noise of passion, love, motoric poems / sin.” (2013: 14).

Already in the following collections there is an expansion of the thematic coverage, which results in a number of other innovations: lexical, semantic, associative, psychological, intertextual, dialogical. There is an initiation of freedom, in a person capable of setting himself free from fear, opposing the canons and stereotypes. What is expressed here is the “wild thought” of the intellectual, prepared for sacrifice, because he is prepared for ideals that have transcended the family ideal, tribal urge and turned to the more universal Good. This poetry was written in a time in which “the world around you crumbles” (“The City and the Child” from the collection with the same title, 1996). The poem is written as a “chronicle of pain” in its centre. The passion of the word is no longer sufficient. Now the poet realizes that “the historical ritual is repeated” (“Hunter’s Dedication” 2004: 65). The presence of the Shadow is felt, the Yugoslav personification of the Shadow archetype. The fear is deeply rooted in the people (“Second Baptism”, a poem dedicated to Milan Djordjević – Belgrade). Nothing is immaculate anymore (“The Young Muse”). One can sense the smell of war, the breath of bestiality, the hell and meaninglessness. All of this is a good basis for establishing an “aesthetics of the darkness”, as the title of one of the poems from The City and the Child reads.
In Smugglers (1st issue 2009, quoted arcading to 2011), in the cycles “Here”, “Empty-handed”, “Inner Circle”, “Obligatory Exercises” and “On the Wrong Side” (which again have the same numbers of poems, each cycle has eight, this time each poem is made of four quatrains), one can deconstruct the topography of the post-war state of affairs of the literary, spiritual and existential areas of the disintegrated common Yugoslav state, the modern Atlantis. The literary, collective and personal memory of those Yugoslav intercultural times are a rich “spiritual heritage” as the author of the afterword of this book, the Croatian critic Delimir Resicki states (2011: 99). The poems move along the road of traces of memories of the lost times and along the traces of the material remnants (cities, people) of those times, more specifically of that Balkan-European Peninsula… The first cycle walks through several micro-troponins of Ljubljana, along the “places of private memories” (“Elegant Bow”, 2011: 17). What is especially impressing is the strategy of seeing and speaking through the awareness of the persons (writers, translators, immigrants…) to whom the poems of Debeljak’s various collections have been dedicated (Edward Kocbek, Josip Osti, Mojca Soštarko, Simona Šrabec, Igor Šiks, then Ivo Andric, David Albahari, James Joyce, Tomas Šalamun, Miljenko Jergović, etc.). In this way we have a transferred image of the world, more specifically a crossed image of the double lyrical subject. The emotional memory is fierce, the diction is defying, the rhetoric gnomic, sentential, suggestive (“Each encounter between the man and the woman is the first one”, 35; “It is important that our desire stubbornly lasts and lasts” – 33; – “the one who loves, risks many shapes / of surprise” – 29; – “only the one who does not rule, but serve comes” – 31; – “your words sound honest when they are the least true” – 47; – “there is no place with so many stars as the broken window of your native house” – 49; – “This unhappy city where the defeats repeat” – 57; – “Everything is allowed for the common good and survival of the tribe” – 59; – “I am not an exception, I am not sensitive: I have many / wounds and even more bandages as reserve and for unexpected cases” – 85; – “the cuckoo does not make / nests, it is a guest in other cities”; – “The twilight of gods / starts behind the corner, at the bar, on the threshold of the yard.” – 81; – “our balance styles are different, but the obsession is the same: to cross to the other side, to touch the blade and return” – 65; – “the warmth grows when it is shared, when you lie in somebody’s arms…” – 37, and many others.
The stage-semiotic tension in Aleš Debeljak’s poetry takes place supported by intellectual techniques and tactics. It is an occasion to review the world and one’s own poetry in it. This tension strives to a reflected history. In these poems where the historical and anthropological being is contemplated, even the erotic discourse becomes more corporal. This is clearly illustrated, for example, with the poem “Newborn Ode” (2013: 72):
“Your breath / drives me to the edge. Sometimes it makes me dizzy. Yet I stand firm.
When I hold you in my arms I’m the rock from the Old Testament.”
This tense scenography, or, if you wish, topography, makes his poems of the second phase  (1996-2009) provocative for reading and rereading. It (the tension) is the introduction to this a bit stage and tense interpretation of Debeljak’s poetry. Tense, because on one side it tries to be an interpretative and value cross-section of his overall poetic work, and on the other hand it does not have an easy access to its original version (it is more difficult for me to read Slovenian), but more via the Macedonian, Croatian, Bulgarian and English translation, and on the other hand it does not have elaborate pretensions to illustrate all the given views with examples from the poems themselves but it rather relies on the procedure in an inductive and trans-aesthetic hermeneutics which values the text in a selected cultural-historical, intertextual (primarily literary) and intermedial (music, film, art) context.
The context of this interpretation essay is primarily culturological, and therefore some phenomenological, structurally semiotic and development aspects of Debeljak’s poetry have only been vaguely mentioned (including his prose poems). However, since the interpretative interest has been directed to deciphering the signature of the Yugoslav flood, the optics of the poet lying between the different poles of nostalgia (yearning) and indifference, returning home and travelling the world, tradition and modernity, subjectivity and alterity, then it is logical to also expect references to style, because style is also a view of the world, a matrix of the poetic identity, an introduction in the symbolic archive of the poems…
Apart from this, this interpretation has also faced the weight (or validity) of a verse from Ales Debeljak’s poem “Urgent Questions” (translated into Macedonian by Igor Isakovski) which warns, not so much with excitement, but with wisdom, that:
“the basest of evils assumes a beautiful shape”
(Космополис, 2010: 46)
Ales Debeljak also (as other writers as well) reminds that behind the aesthetic beauty of poetry there is lot of hidden suffering, and behind the suffering a lot of evil – archetypal, mythical, biblical, historical… If the evil is the constant of humanity, then beauty is also its constant, i.e. art, poetry, music, painting, film… Besides this, art of living. Because, let us admit, it fits a poet like Aleš Debeljak – a top essayist and literary critic, a university professor, engaged intellectual, sociologist of culture, culturologist, philosopher, archaeologist of Yugoslav literary and cultural Atlantis – to have the skills of art and living. Such a poet is typical for conquering the space of freedom, again and again. Always setting himself free of fear, free in his fear.
Господинов, Георги. „В републиката на буквите“, поговор кон книгата Край на носталгията, София, ДА, 2013: 85-86.
Дебељак, Алеш. 2004. Избрани песни. Скопје, Блесок. Превод и предговор на Лидија Димковска (застапени се песни од збирките Речник на тишината, Мигови страв, Градот и детето и Недовршени оди).
Дебељак, Алеш. 2008. Под површината. Скопје, Блесок. Превод и поговор на Игор Исаковски.
Дебељак, Алеш. Космополис/Kozmopolis/Cosmopolis, EvaTas, Skopje Blesok 2010 (превод Игор Исаковски).
Debeljak, Aleš. Krijumčari, Zagreb, Fraktura 2011, prvo ed. 2009 Tihotapci, Ljubljana Mladinska Knjiga (prijevod Edo Fičer)
Debeljak, Aleš. Balkansko brvno (eseji o književnosti jugoslavenske Atlantide), Zagreb, Fraktura 2014.
Дебеляак, Алеш. Край на носталгията, избрани стихотворения (превод на Людмила Миндова), София, ДА, книгоиздателство за поезия, 2013.
Димковска, Лидија. „Проста и строга песна“. Предговор кон книгата Избрани песни од Алеш Дебељак. Скопје, Блесок, 2004.
Исаковски, Игор. „Замисленост пред повторувањата на историјата (кога лириката и епиката се сплотуваат)“. Поговор кон книгата Под површината од Алеш Дебељак. Скопје, Блесок, 2008.
Rešicki, Delimir. „Za autostopere koji su morali, preko mnogih granica, krijumčariti sjećanja na svoje živote“, pogovor in Krijumčari, Zagreb, Fraktura, 2011: 91-103.


1. In the first Macedonian translation, authored by Lidija Dimkovska, the statement is: “Ќе најдеш ли сега сили да се препознаеш во оваа песна?“ (Will you find the strength now to recognize yourself in this poem?) (Избрани песни, 2004: 44).
2. Zamenjave, zamenjave (PAM, Mladinska knjiga 1982), The Names of Death (Imena smrti, Mladinska knjiga 1985), Slovar tišine (Aleph Press 1987), Moments of Fear (Minute strahu, Mladinska knjiga 1990), The City and the Child (Mesto in otrok, Mladinska knjiga 1996), Unfinished Odes (Nedokončane hvalnice, Mladinska knjiga 2000), Under the Surface (2004 Pod gladino, Mladinska knjiga 2004), Smugglers (Tihotapci, Mladinska knjiga 2009). His essays cover more than 14 books, such as Melancholic Figures 1988, The Postmodern Sphinx 1989, The Dark Skies of America 1991, Above the Ruins of Modernity 1999, The Balkan Bridge: Essays on the Literature of the “Yugoslav Atlantis”, 2010 and others.
3. In Greek, eleftheria means freedom, and in the Macedonian colloquial speech the world lefterno is used as easy, leisurely, light and free.
4. Only in the book Moments of Fear (1990), which contains the beautiful “Elegies from the North”, the poetic expression is prosaised and narrativised, both technically and stylistically.


5. A selection of A. Debeljak’s essays is was published in Macedonian in 2004, by Blesok, entitled Избрани есеи (Selected Essays), translated by I. Isakovski, E. Bakovska and Ana Dimiskovska.
6. In his essay on Danilo Kiš, Debeljak, in his narrative-confessional passages, says: “Then I was only interested in literature and erotics” (2011: 141).
7. That is how this book is called by Zvonko Maković, I quote him indirectly, via the quotation given in the Delimir Resicki’s afterword (2011: 98), otherwise it is a statement on the cover of the Croatian issue of Diary of Silence (Riječnik tišine, Zagreb, Biblioteka Quorum, 1989, translated by Branko Čegec).

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