Uprooting and liberation: problematics of Central and Eastern European exile in Škvorecký’s The engineer of human souls and Hoffman’s Lost in translation
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To be thrust into exile is necessarily to develop a complex and profoundly problematic relationship to the past, and arguably nowhere is this more tangible than in the exile literature of Central and Eastern Europe. This paper analyses Josef Škvorecký’s The engineer of human souls (1984) and Eva Hoffman’s Lost in translation (1989) in an exploration of the literary representation of twentieth-century Central and Eastern-European exile to North America. Drawing on the philosophies of Brodsky, Miłosz, Suvin and Said, I focus on the plurality of vision afforded by exile, the relationship between exile and (semi)-autobiographical writing, differing opinions towards the host land and native homeland, and issues of “rootedness” and “double-centredness” in the exiled individual, in order to examine the problematic relationship between past and present, uprooting and liberation, in Polish and Czech exile literature.
KeywordsExile Autobiographical writing Central and Eastern Europe Rootedness
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