Writer: Milorad Pavić
Publishing House: Dereta
Date of Publication: April 2nd 2012 (first published 1993)
Rating: 5 stars
‘’When someone dies, this means that a stranger wanted to tell us something important. Every death is, in fact, a word. And all our deaths create a long, unread letter.’’
* The extract is translated by me and taken from the Greek edition, beautifully translated by the great Gaga Rosić. *
Milorad Pavić is one of the greatest Serbian writers and one of the most important European masters of Literature. His works are characterized by a sensitive lyricism and a haunting eroticism, remaining faithful to the unique complexity of Serbian Literature, a characteristic of the Balkan writing. I believe that Forever and a Day (as is the English title of this work) is his most impressive creation.
This is an outstanding example of Dramatic Literature, a frightfully ‘’difficult’’ genre. Pavić created a play like a menu with three ‘’starters’’, a single ‘’main course’’ and three ‘’desserts’’ that can form nine versions of the same play depending on the choices of each director. I have never read something similar, I don’t think there is a similar play to be found. A composition of Dictionary of the Khazars, Landscape Painted With Tea and Last Love in Constantinople, three of his most famous novels. Ten different settings and four time periods in an extremely complex drama that may be a little too difficult to understand by reading. We have to watch the characters and experience the dialogue in action to fully appreciate the Beauty and the Strange in Pavić’s writing.
This is the love story of Petkunin and Kalina, although the phrase ‘’love story’’ is too sugary and too shallow to describe this work. It seems to me that this is the struggle of the human soul to find a form of meaning in the presence of another human being without losing our identity. The journey through the eras epitomizes the influence of our heritage and our family which isn’t always welcome. Petkunin and Kalina’s is composed like a combination of the Biblical story of Adam and Eve and the myth of Eros and Psyche mixed with the traditional Balkan belief on the Vampire that lives amongst us. Philosophy, Religion, History, Psychology, tradition form a story that reads like a hymn to the eternal, endless search for hope, meaning, freedom of choice and the right to a second chance, to correct the mistakes and start again…
A monumental work…