The Silk, the Shears and Marina: Or, about Biographyby Irena Vrkljan
In The Silk, the Shears, Vrkljan traces the symbolic and moral significance of her life,
The Silk, the Shears and Marina are the first two volumes of the Croatian poet and novelist Irena Vrkljan's lyrical autobiography. Although each volume extends and illuminates the themes and events of the other, they also stand alone as original and independent works of art.
In The Silk, the Shears, Vrkljan traces the symbolic and moral significance of her life, from her childhood in interwar Belgrade, through her adolescence in Zagreb during the Second World War, her young adulthood in postwar socialist Yugoslavia, and her later life as a writer in Zagreb and Berlin. In a haunted, nostalgic voice and an impressionistic style, Vrkljan vividly evokes her family and her upbringing, and the historical and cultural crossroads at which her society found itself. Her vision of the fate of women both in her mother's generation and in her own gives particular resonance to her struggle to create an autonomous artistic life.
Marina continues the intense analysis of the poetic self, using the life of the Russian poet Marina Tsvetaeva to enter into a meditation on biography, both as a literary form and as a perpetual process of memory and experience. Through Vrkljan's explorations of Tsvetaeva's life, we see how the two women's lives echo each other, and how Vrkljan, as she responds with both empathy and dread to Tsvetaeva's fate, aspires to a fearless, absolute dedication to her art, and also fears a withdrawal into silence, submission to a prosaic and fallen world.
Rich in physical and emotional detail, the poetic urgency of Vrkljan's writing reveals not only the pressure that the past still exerts on her life but also the disturbing and divided nature of memory itself, for the past is theunalterable source of guilt and regret, yet it is also a living reality shaped by our own changing perceptions.
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