Dissonances of Being. Two Exiles Cover Image

Olemise ebakõlad. Kaks eksiili
Dissonances of Being. Two Exiles

Author(s): Maarja Hollo
Subject(s): Literary Texts
Published by: SA Kultuurileht
Keywords: expatriate literature; kunstlerroman; writer in exile; August Mälk; Isaac Bashevis Singer

Summary/Abstract: Two representations of the relations of an author and his exile are compared. One is the novel Kodumaata („Expatriates”, 1947) by August Mälk, the other is the autobiographic book „Lost in America” (1981) by Isaac Bashevis Singer. In either novel the protagonist is a writer in exile, forced, for his own sake, to redefine the essence and purposes of art. For Martin Lemm, the lead character of Kodumaata, this process involves important changes in his writer’s identity. Being a proponent of the utilitarian view of art (art should be „eaten”) he formulates his writer’s mission as one of writing to serve his compatriots. Besides the servant’s role he takes on that of a national ideologist, which means that he has to adjust his writing to the expectations and demand of the ethnic community. The narrator of „Lost in America”, however, has felt in exile already before leaving his country and thus his physical emigration only deepens his conviction that an author should be independent in his work. Like Martin, he also recognizes that life is supreme over literature, but unlike Martin he never even tries to accommodate to the requirements of the community or society at large, as he realizes that real art can be produced only if one recognizes the dissonances of being, not trying to avoid writing about them.

  • Issue Year: LI/2008
  • Issue No: 03
  • Page Range: 194-207
  • Page Count: 14
  • Language: Estonian