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From Exile to “Retro-Utopia”A Yugoslav Writer’s Return

From Exile to “Retro-Utopia”A Yugoslav Writer’s Return The act of writing ensures that exile is never permanent in the mind of the writer even if it is an abiding feature of his or her reality. Dubravka Ugrešić explores this paradox in much of her work, suggesting that migrant writers experience “double exile”—first on account of displacement and then because they are forced to reflect on the condition of being displaced, in effect, staging their alienation in the act of commenting on it. This dialectic of permanence and impermanence alone hints at a more developed relationship between home and exile than is usually allowed in the ontologically inflected interpretations of Ugrešić’s work. Instead of valorizing exile as a desirable, paradigmatically human condition, this article shows Ugrešić breaking with exilic literary and theoretical conventions by advancing the possibility of a return to what she calls “retro-utopia”—a place glimpsed in an unfulfilled past and a home to which a community based on shared positions, not identity, can return. The argument is based on an exegetical approach to an ur-document in transnational post-Yugoslav literature, Ugrešić’s 1997 novel The Museum of Unconditional Surrender, as well as on a key distinction in Edward Said’s secular criticism between filiative and affiliative social bonds. http://www.deepdyve.com/assets/images/DeepDyve-Logo-lg.png Qui Parle Duke University Press

From Exile to “Retro-Utopia”A Yugoslav Writer’s Return

Qui Parle , Volume 30 (2) – Dec 1, 2021

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Copyright
Copyright © 2021 Editorial Board, Qui Parle
ISSN
1041-8385
eISSN
1938-8020
DOI
10.1215/10418385-9395312
Publisher site
See Article on Publisher Site

Abstract

The act of writing ensures that exile is never permanent in the mind of the writer even if it is an abiding feature of his or her reality. Dubravka Ugrešić explores this paradox in much of her work, suggesting that migrant writers experience “double exile”—first on account of displacement and then because they are forced to reflect on the condition of being displaced, in effect, staging their alienation in the act of commenting on it. This dialectic of permanence and impermanence alone hints at a more developed relationship between home and exile than is usually allowed in the ontologically inflected interpretations of Ugrešić’s work. Instead of valorizing exile as a desirable, paradigmatically human condition, this article shows Ugrešić breaking with exilic literary and theoretical conventions by advancing the possibility of a return to what she calls “retro-utopia”—a place glimpsed in an unfulfilled past and a home to which a community based on shared positions, not identity, can return. The argument is based on an exegetical approach to an ur-document in transnational post-Yugoslav literature, Ugrešić’s 1997 novel The Museum of Unconditional Surrender, as well as on a key distinction in Edward Said’s secular criticism between filiative and affiliative social bonds.

Journal

Qui ParleDuke University Press

Published: Dec 1, 2021

References