The Walnut Mansion (The Margellos World Republic of Letters)
Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub
This grand novel encompasses nearly all of Yugoslavia’s tumultuous twentieth century, from the decline of the Austro-Hungarian and Ottoman Empires through two world wars, the rise and fall of communism, the breakup of the nation, and the terror of the shelling of Dubrovnik. Tackling universal themes on a human scale, master storyteller Miljenko Jergovic traces one Yugoslavian family’s tale as history irresistibly casts the fates of five generations.
What is it to live a life whose circumstances are driven by history? Jergovic investigates the experiences of a compelling heroine, Regina Delavale, and her many family members and neighbors. Telling Regina’s story in reverse chronology, the author proceeds from her final days in 2002 to her birth in 1905, encountering along the way such traumas as atrocities committed by Nazi Ustashe Croats and the death of Tito. Lyrically written and unhesitatingly told, The Walnut Mansion may be read as an allegory of the tragedy of Yugoslavia’s tormented twentieth century.
glad that she didn’t have to tell them anything about herself. They sat her down on their divan, offered her baklava and other sweets, asked her about the weather in Dubrovnik and what was blooming and what was ripening at this time of the year. He explained to her in detail how to make jam from plums and how to keep the plums from turning sour. Begzada nodded and added her comments here and there. Then she told what it had been like when the Germans had withdrawn from Sarajevo and what a sorry
the end of recess with a cow rattle. He mastered the skill of disappearing. He wouldn’t go off anywhere; people knew that he was somewhere around. But if anyone were asked at some moment where Rafo was, no one knew, though Rafo was there, two paces away from them. You had to look really hard, peel your eyes, to see that Rafo was right there. And there wasn’t a child or an adult who was immune to that skill of his. If it was a skill and if some other word or explanation wasn’t required. As the
hadn’t shown up for classes. Two nuns wrote letters every week with a request to contact them. Some people from the police also came. There was a suspicion that the family was preventing the boy from returning to school . . . A month later a sealed letter arrived from Ivan Polak that informed the first-grade pupil Rafo Sikirić that he’d been expelled from the school due to his disregard for school discipline and unexcused absences and that the decision had been forwarded to the minister of
members. The life that was fading in Ljubljana was an archetype that had been handed down to the people regardless of whether they belonged to the majority, who were blindly in love with the state and all its written rules and customs, or to the barely visible minority, who hated that same state, who responded to it in kind or with worse measures. That man was something much larger than a father or a king and more real than God. He was irreplaceable, both on the throne and in the minds of his
neighbors for the first time in a long while because they felt that this opera was a serious thing, on account of which you could lose your life or be sent to do hard labor, though none of these people from the three groups had ever in their lives set foot in the National Theater. But the Catholics in the market district, who were in the minority (there might be one or two among the clockmakers, cobblers, and tailors) were damned if they weren’t getting ready to go to their first opera. And they