|Abstract (english)|| |
The whole work is conceived as a literary-theoretical Croatian-comparative research which, using the aesthetics of Oscar Wilde, as one of the most present versions of aesthetic writing in Croatian literature and theatre, but also in the cultural space in the first decades of the 20th century in general. It can contribute to a deeper understanding of parts of the opus of individual writers such as Antun Gustav Matoš, Miroslav Krleža, Fran Galović, Ivo Vojnović and Vladimir Nazor and to a better understanding of the dynamics of their real debts and loans, traces of which they themselves often rewrote and concealed in various forms of their autobiographical and biographical comments. With the basis on Wildean aestheticism, which is seen as a highly self-referential and artificially stylized way of writing often spiced with sensual and perverse motifs, the paper approaches the corpus of Croatian literature of the early 20th century as a complex collage of texts which is contrary to hitherto dominant literaryhistorical practice. The texts in this collage often rewrite each other and oppose each other with different strategies of shaping and presenting reality, not because some are closer to it or represent it better than the rest, but precisely because everyone is equally distant from it, no matter how they imagine that distance. The reinterpretation of a part of the corpus of Croatian literature of the first decades of the 20th century, armed with analytical procedures honed by reading Wilde's texts, implies at least two important methodological differences in relation to traditional interpretations. Firstly, a hesitation before the statements of the authors themselves about their own work, because on Wilde's example we quickly notice that the author himself is just a continuous and incomplete conscious performance of his own authorship. Secondly, the resistance to reading which the literary text persistently tries to unambiguously and finally pair with elements from non-literary reality, while taming the dissolved symbol and abolishing the unreliability of the linguistic sign. This study has thus, by dealing with the aesthetics of Oscar Wilde and its significance for European literature of the late 19th and early 20th century, recognized a number of comparable phenomena both in the texts of individual Croatian writers of that period, but also in the textual lives of these authors, who regularly, following the example of Wilde, very skilfully shaped their own public figure and their own autobiography, which contains many more fictitious features than one has often wanted to see or admit. The research was therefore not designed merely as a search for perhaps unrecognized borrowed motifs or fable lines, but it opposed and juxtaposed the texts that had hitherto persistently challenged every kinship and every form of closeness or concord. The similarities, which were at times monstruous, were supported with interpretations that would, from a different point of view, illuminate the links, coincidences, and echoes that, especially from the perspective of national philology, were invisible or were simply considered marginal and less important. The study therefore simultaneously presents interpretations of selected texts by canonical Croatian writers Antun Gustav Matoš, Miroslav Krleža, Fran Galović, Ivo Vojnović and Vladimir Nazor from a Wildean perspective, but also reads some of Wilde's texts from an unusual perspective of Croatian writers from the early 20th century, while curiously crossing the boundaries between different national literatures. On a theoretical and methodological level, the research re-examines some common concepts used by the literary science and especially the comparative study of literature, such as the concept of literary influence. The first part of the first chapter is devoted to the study of attitudes of Matoš towards Wilde and Wilde's work. Since previous interpretations of texts by Matoš have disputed that Wilde had a stronger influence on Matoš, the chapter begins with the analysis of the polemically intoned letter that Tin Ujević sent to Ivo Hergešić in 1935 in response to Hergešić's review of the poetry collection Heavy-hearted bell (Ojađeno zvono, 1933) in which in Ujević's poetry he recognized traces of Matoš's influence and the influence of French symbolism. Ujević rejects Hergešić's claims and states that Matoš "snatched" his aesthetics from Oscar Wilde anyway. Ujević's claims about Matoš's poetics from that letter are the starting point for the interpretation of seven articles that Ujević dedicated to Matoš and published during his lifetime as well as eight fragments about Matoš, titled The Study about Antun Gustav Matoš (Studija o Antunu Gustavu Matošu) which were published after Ujević died. Based on the insights resulting from reading these fifteen networked records, and then starting from the gloss about Wilde in Matoš's notebooks, the analysis of a series of Matoš's texts in which Wilde's role is explored is presented. It turns out that to Matoš Wilde is interesting as a prime example of a writer whose life and work were marked by multiple contradictory positions imposed on artists at the end of the 19th and the beginning of the 20th century by market logic and a society eager for media scandals. Matoš, who is an extremely astute social and cultural critic, uses Wilde's example to comment on the problem of positioning in the literary field, which allows the artist not to succumb to the pressure of audiences and markets, but at the same time remain creatively autonomous and socially relevant. The interpretation of texts by Ujević and Matoš shows that Wilde underlies Matoš's problematization of authorship, which Matoš, partly modelled on Wilde, conceived as a complex self-stylization and continuous performance of his own authorial personality, which alone allows him to evade the pressures of civil society, utilitarianism and determinism. Equivalent to such a strategy of uninterrupted selftransformation in public life in Matoš's literary texts are the motifs of duality and decentralized identity in short prose and the figure of the mask in lyricism. The final thesis of the first chapter is that Matoš's problematization of authorship and identity is one of Matoš's key contributions to the modernization of Croatian literature at the beginning of the 20th century, on the basis of which both Ujević and Krleža shaped complex auto-reflexive and auto-poetic games with which they indefinitely announced and rewrote their own authorial instances in literary, but also in non-literary texts. In the second part of the chapter in Vojnović's play The Lady with the Sunflower (Gospođa sa suncokretom), Wilde's influence is explored on two levels. The first level being the one at which the author flirts with individual Wilde motifs, but also the level at which it is subject to popular, fashionable notions of literary decadence, which circulated many foreign and domestic newspaper reports, with which Vojnović also fills his play. Matoš's, Ujević's, Krleža's and Begović's critical reviews of the drama and Matoš's lyrical and dramatic parody of Vojnović's play are interpreted as multiple symptomatic expressions of literary and cultural criticism that condemns Vojnović's flattery to the demands of the audience and the market. A review of Vojnović's drama and its reception among contemporaries is interesting because it testifies to the reasons why the most influential Croatian writers of the first half of the 20th century maintained an ambivalent attitude towards Wilde and aestheticism, persistently diminishing the influence of aestheticism on shaping their own poetics. The aim of the final part of the first chapter is to try to explore the literary features and structures in Vladimir Nazor's Istrian tales (Istarske priče), which have not been examined in depth so far. This is done in comparison to Oscar Wildes's fairy tales which are an interesting example of his aestheticism marked with a special usage of language, nuanced style and auto-reference, and decorated with symbols typical for the turn of the century. The greatest attention is paid to the interpretation of Nazor’s story Halugica (Facol rakamani) based on the analysis of Wilde’s tale The Fisherman and His Soul and Nazor’s story Forest without a Nightingale (Šuma bez slavuja) which can be read as an aesthetic allegory about the power of art. The analysis of Nazor's stories inspired by Wilde tries to examine different codes and texts which they contain from a new perspective and proposes a new approach to the emergence of writing in dialect in Croatian literature of the early 20th century. The first part of the second chapter deals with the complex effects that the appearance of the translation of Wilde's play Salomé had on the literature of Croatian modernism. The influence that the exceptional popularity of Wilde's work in the German-speaking area had on the writer's reception in the Croatian culture of the early 20th century is investigated. It will be proven that the first Croatian translation of Salomé from 1905 by Julije Benešić and Nikola Andrić was based on the influential German translation by Hedwig Lachmann. The influence of Lachmann's interpretation of Salome's character on popular notions about this exemplary character of the femme fatale in newspaper reviews of Wilde and his drama and in reviews of Zagreb's performances of the play is analysed. On the example of selected literary texts by Fran Galović (two lyrical Salomes) and Miroslav Krleža (lyrical Salome and a fragment on Scheherazade and Heliogabalus from Bygone Days), the popular Wildean intertext is analysed, which influenced the modernization of Croatian literary style in the modern period, not only at the level of borrowing typical motifs, characters and atmosphere, but also in the autonomous and self-reflexive language game of Krleža's texts. The second part of the chapter is dedicated to the interpretation of Krleža’s Salome. This part tries to point out the possibility of a different interpretation of Krleža’s Salome removing it from the context of the Bygone Days, which has influenced most of the existing interpretations, and disconnecting the interpretation of the play from the author’s numerous contradictory comments about its meaning. Instead, in the author’s ever-changing formulation of the final meaning of the text, the interpretation recognizes the same procedures that are used by Salome for seducing and manipulating men surrounding her in the play. Salome is a supreme orator in the play, always conscious of her use of language, of the repercussions of her speech and of the textuality of the world she inhabits. This part suggests that a method for analysing the language of the play can be found in the discursive mechanisms of Oscar Wilde’s renowned play Salomé, as a prime example of the decadent use of language, although Wilde’s influence on Krleža’s play has mostly been disputed. It will be argued that the influence of Wilde’s aestheticism is not visible in the adoption of typical motifs, characters or plot, but in the autonomous and self-reflective language play in Krleža’s text. The third chapter is composed from three parts. The first part is designed as a short digression dedicated to the interpretation of selected parts of Krleža's memoirs Bygone Days (Davni dani), which can be read as various forms of transcripts of typical motifs and stylistic registers characteristic of the most prominent Croatian writers of the late 19th and early 20th century, such as Antun Gustav Matoš, Vladimir Vidrić and Ljubo Wiesner. On the basis of the existing analyses of the complex polyphony of Krleža’s memoirs by Suzana Marjanić and studies which explored Krleža’s attitudes towards Matoš and Croatian literature of the late 19th and early 20th century as a whole, the aim is to show that, albeit often contradictory, Krleža’s valorisation of the works of early Croatian and European modernists isn’t visible only in the explicit statements about certain representatives of the era, but also in his complex reinterpretations of the motifs and styles dominant in their writing. This short outing to Krleža's Bygone Days is a link to the insights into Matoš's relationship with Wilde and insights into Ujević and Krleža's debts to Matoš, and is intended as a preparation for a more comprehensive reinterpretation of Krleža's relationship to aesthetics in the second and the third part of the chapter. The second part of the chapter interprets a series of texts by Krleža and Wilde. Starting with another selected excerpt from Bygone Days, Krleža's diary commentaries on Wilde and on aestheticism are intertwined with many other author's texts in order to problematize the established literary-historical presentation in which Krleža's opus cuts into clearly separated phases in which early intoxication by aestheticism is replaced with avant-garde experiments which then retreat before the realistic-naturalistic poetics. In the second part of the chapter, the recent interpretation of Krleža's first play Legend (Legenda) by Morana Čala, in which Krleža's text is read with the basis of Nietzsche's Antichrist, is the starting point for researching the play based on several Wilde’s texts in which the Irish writer reinterprets Biblical motifs and shapes his character of Jesus Christ. The analysis places special emphasis on Wilde's Poems in Prose and the role of André Gide in their reception, looks at German and Croatian translations of some of Wilde's poems in prose and parables, and touches on the texts The Soul of Man Under Socialism and De profundis. The interpretive curvature thus described constantly returns to works by Krleža and Matoš, forming a comprehensive introduction to Krleža's interpretation of the Legend, which includes a comparison of Nietzsche and Wilde's insights based on Patrick Bridgwater's research. Krleža's first play was read and reinterpreted on the basis of several of Wilde's texts, with Salome standing out as a particularly important prototext, so the Legend is revealed by this intertextual society as a complex metafiction in which the character of the Shadow plays the role of a privileged reader of the fictional world which it inhabits, which is therefore comparable to readers such as Wilde, Nietzsche and Krleža were themselves. The third part of the chapter builds directly on the previous one and is dedicated to the interpretation of Krleža's play Messrs. Glembay (Gospoda Glembajevi) and the novelistic cycle with which it is inter-connected. Extensive preparatory work for the interpretation of the dramatic text is a comparative reading of Krleža's aesthetic considerations from the Bygone Days and his diary entries from 1942, from the perspective of which Krleža often returned to his earliest diary notes, revising them and commenting on them, and which also contain a very important poetic text Childhood 1902–03. The aim of interpreting such intertwined texts is to show in what ways Krleža obsessively thematizes the relationship between art and reality as a complex aesthetic problem because the central thesis of the analysis is that Krleža treats the representation and shaping of reality as a problem not solved by the realistic-naturalistic method. Therefore, the mutual analysis of Wilde's essay The Critic as Artist and several of Krleža's essays and reviews points to many interesting links in the aesthetic considerations of the two authors, thanks to which it is suggested that Krleža's texts should be read as works by Wildean critic as an artist. In the continuation of the chapter, the analysis of several essays in which Krleža analyses the works of writers who portrayed a developed bourgeoise society and the reinterpretation of the Osijek lecture (Osječko predavanje), strengthened by the presentation of Wilde's re-writings of Ibsen’s plays in his own pieces, based on all previous insights, is a starting point into the interpretation of the play Messrs. Glembay. Its aim is to show that the central theme of the famous play, which was regularly portrayed as an example of analytical realism, is precisely the problematization of truth, truthfulness, reliability, and fidelity of representation in dramatic form that actually breaks down the mould of the so-called realistic dramaturgy. Thus, on several levels, aestheticism is shown to be a permanent component of Krleža's modernism, which undermines the traditional, clear succession of stylistic-poetic models in the author's opus.