Blesok no. 25, March-April, 2002
Unfeasibility of Love
in the Works of Crnjanski and Georgievski
Loreta Georgievska Jakovleva
The novelist work of Crnjanski and Georgievski, besides having exile as a center of interest, “Migrations” and the tetralogy “Black Seed”, “Time of Science” and “Flat Land” can also be characterized as novels fully dedicated to love. When the novel tickles the topic of love, it almost never describes something close and easily reachable, but often something morally inappropriate. The second name of such love is passion. So, in the novels that are the focus of our interest, not love but passion is dominant; it is the one that is a moving factor in organizing the novels and their scope of ideas. For, it is more appropriate to use the term passion for the obsessive direction of the characters in both of the novels with the desire to overpass the unfavorable situation, instigated by the exile through the persistence for continuance in the native country and love. According to the definition of Denis de Rougemont, passion is something different which pulls itself in between the subject and object and is defined as an obstruction. Most often that obstruction is social (moral, custom or political) and at the end it is mixed with the society itself. For the sake of writing, the obstruction can take the shape of dramatis personae (for example, adventure novel -a classical enemy or according to the terminology of Prop “pest”), of context – structure of social-political and social relations, which rule in certain period and place (characteristic for the classical realistic novel of 19 century) or that obstruction turns into theme and it can be posed side by side with the theme love/passion as it is the case with the above mentioned novels. So in these novels there are two central themes: persecution which in the discourse is read as obstruction and love — as surpassing, removal of the obstruction.
On the other hand, the obstruction is seen as a depletion or detachment. Man's desire to transcend that depletion and renew the integration in extremely unfavorable conditions, produces directness towards imagination and dream, so that the inclination towards unreal has strong compensation function, function which can be read in the relation – substitution for the depletion.
Thus, when we talk about the topic of love within the tetralogy by Georgievski and Migrations by Crnjanski, it is inevitable to bring them to relation with the topic of exile, that is, to consider them in mutual cause and effect relations, where love is expressed as a strive for integration of human, understood in its broader term. The topic love/passion is in direct relation with the topic exile/homelessness i.e. directly depends on the artistic vision of human homelessness through literal shaping of man as a creature in a constant quest for his lost fatherland.
So in the narrow terms, the subject of this speech will be directness towards the dream and imagination as a compensation factor for the insufficiency in the reality-unfeasibility of love, where the theme of love is divided into two components: the motif of passion for the beloved one and motif of passion for the native country. In the novel very often the erotic passion turns into obsessive quest for the fatherland and vice versa, which actually gives us the right to say that these are variants of one and the same theme, man's internal fight for integration, personal as well as social. The realization of this problem in the novels is not explicit but hidden, with subtle passages and touches that are disclosed only after complete perception of the novel, where the act of parallelism is a dominant one.
That act in the text can be seen, first of all, through the treatment of the native country, which in Gerogievski's and Crnjanski's works has wide meaning. Besides the fact that it is related to historically real places and classes of people which belong to a given nation, the space of the native country gains semantic meaning, in which the motif passion for the beloved and motif passion for the fatherland are privileged.
Gerogievski's novels and Crnjanski's novel are build upon historical grounds. The destiny of Serbian people after Kosovo battle, i.e. emigration, especially their difficult and uncertain position within the Habsburg Monarchy in the period of Maria Theresa's governing in the middle of the 18 century is the timber for the novel Migrations, just as well as the emigration of the Macedonian population after the defeat in he Civil war in Greece in 1948 is the timber for Gerogievski's novels.
That timber is a historical foundation, which enables literary presentation of the topic exile i.e. picture of a nation, exiled from its native country, has temporary and illusory homeland, wrapped in fog and mud, always near the railways and water, elements which in the works gain high symbolical meaning of uncertainty, separatism and transit. As this collective destiny is expressed generally, every single of the central characters live in an uncertain world, world of peril and endangerment. The more restlessness and uncertainty are felt in the domain of reality, the more persisting is the quest for the sense, peace and comfort in domain of the imagination. Out of the first domain a valuable attitude appears, out of the second – another one, and their relation can be identified as proportional. The first domain, which is about writing on the general domain where is the character, produced patriotism in the second, where the written relies on the sensibility and perceptibility of the character, and were the eroticism is dominant. Under such conditions, the space of the homeland is not experienced as real but as Utopian one. The character is urged to dream about another, fictive, imaginative world, idealized on the space of the fatherland. That world is world of peace and harmony, world of happy, returned love. The transformation of the real into Utopian space is enabled by its symbolic marking, no matter if the mark of that world is incessant blue circle with star (Crnjanski) or the red plaid (Georgievski)
“The homeland in the works of Georgievski – says Novica Petković – and particularly in Migrations, is just a projection of an Utopian space that one feels when is abroad, when it meets him… And the incessant blue circle with star, which at these two mentioned places comes as an apparition to Vuk Isakovic between the dream and the reality, raises the hero into another, higher world…”
“ The red plaid gains anthropomorphic characteristics, and its symbolism moves its semantic domain from the fireplace to the need for dream, the need for imaginative and dream are founded on the need for compensation of all that which is condition for existence and which the real life lacks”-says Stojanovic.
It is not by accident that this other space is felt exactly in the moments of erotic longing and lust or in the moments of endangerment, and quite often the feelings of endangerment and erotic longing appear together. Another assumption is possible too that in both of the novels love for the fatherland is substituted with love for the beloved i.e. the balance which was set at the beginning is challenged by the exile and it turns into imbalance. The family triangle in Migrations (through the characters of Vuk, Dafina and Angele) is substituted with love triangle, and Done's patriotism is substituted with erotic feeling for Angelina. Mediator of this upheaval is the boundary line between the dream and reality.
We would especially like to point out the fact that the central role in the symbolic system of the novel Migrations belongs to the incessant blue circle with star, and in Tashko Georgievski's work – the red plaid. In this regard, the places where they appear have significant function in the novel construction and most often they appear in the context of the erotic ecstasy or feeling of endangerment, being lost, caused by the lost of the fatherland, which justifies the thesis that those two topics: exile and love are complementary, and the motif passion (patriotic or erotic) is felt as an opportunity for reintegration.
In Migrations, the most clear example of such act can be found in the moments when Mrs.Dafina performs the adultery, and later when she dies. Spelled by her beauty, her brother in law Angel feel in her eyes the other world, and when she dies, mentally deranged, he sees above her blue circles with a star, the same circles which Vuk Isakovic sees on the gloomy sky in the moments of the important battles.
Maybe the parallel between erotic feeling and patriotism would not be so clear if it weren't for another detail – Vuk sees the same circles with a star in the moments of his wife's adultery. That is the way in which picture of the circle with a star with metonymy (touch) reaches the peak of the symbol.
In Black seed we find similar situation, but it is more explicit, in which it is insisted on the parallel between the patriotism and erotic feeling. The simplicity of the motivation with which Done, condemned prisoner on the “island of death” persists the terror is fascinating.
In the moment of existential endangerment, in situation in which there is not clear distinction between reality and dream, he in his minds recalls the face of his wife Angelina as an opposition of the terror he experiences. Thus she becomes support of his persistence not to sign the documents which would mean giving up from the communist party which he never belonged too. The dream for his beloved is the only support in his defense mechanism in order to survive and to stay faithful to his patriotism, which is innate to him. In the further development of the events, in other novels there is and indicative factor where the ideal for the woman is substitute with relic, red plaid, which just as the blue circle with star, performs the function of transmission in the idealized space. Foretold with the motif of thrown wedding ring, the substitution of the erotic feeling with an altruist love will be developed in the events that follow, exactly through the motif of red plaid. Just as it “flies” in the air and with that turns into ideal mark (which means its co-existence in the reality), in the same way the recognition that love for the beloved is infeasible is crystallized.
Through the symbols in the text, we come to the same result: just as on the broad domain we come to the attitude that man without fatherland, exiled from the native country, is man without root, we here come to a recognition that love for the beloved is infeasible.
In the Georgievski's and Crnjanski's novels a strange phenomenon is discovered: the perception of the nature, the foreign one, often discloses the man and rarely experiencing the beloved one; it discloses character's connection with the native country; in the character of the beloved the entire social and political tangledness of the situations in which characters live and act can be seen. This parallel is undetermined, it can be felt, but the undetermindness offered by the author is not an accidental. It does not appear because of in concordance of the two central themes, which at the first glance may seem unrelated. This implicitly, blurriness reveal the ambiguity of the love/passion itself, which, by definition, is counter social, but at the same time connected to the social environment with secret relations out of which it would not exist. In this regard, the impossibility to experience the fatherland as fulfilled dream produces picture of unfeasibility of erotic love. The tragic lies in the outcome of both.
In Migrations and in Georgievski's novels we encounter the motif of unfulfilled love, that is, the motif of tragic love. The family triangle is solved with the death of Mrs. Dafina, and Done's love for Angelina with disappearance. Just as in the novels we are shown the loss of the father land, at the same way the unfeasibility of love can be felt. The drawback, which incites feeling of being lost, needs compensation through conquering of a new space, new place of living. This space cannot be found in the reality and therefore is changed with the space of love. And if the expected safety and stability cannot be found there, one looks for a new space – Done's altruism or one retreats through the feeling of ontological discard in the world, which is the basic difference between mentioned novels. While in Georgievski's work besides the dark feelings and tragic events thorough the character of done a ritualistic line exists, in Migrations fearful picture of the worthlessness dominates.
Or: The philosophic center of these novels is experience or quest for love, as From says, as an answer to the problems in the man's existence. Exiled from a natural environment, the characters in the novels are in an undetermined, unsure and open situation. To be exiled means to be impowerfull. The attempt of second comeback and joining is possible through love. The absolute failure in overcoming the separation leads one to insanity or death, for which novels witness.
1. Novica Petković: Dva srpska romana, Narodna knjiga, Beograd, str. 310
2. Miroljub Stojanovic: Deobe i seobe Tashka Georgievskog, Prosveta, Nis,1995.