In the last months of writing my doctoral dissertation, “The Art of Distances or, a Morality for the Everyday”, a study of the ways British, French and German authors wrote about living with other people in the twentieth century, I often wondered about the relevance of my thesis to the other Europe: how did writers from the East imagine community, given the different trajectory of their history?  Kafka, Wat, Babel and Sinyavsky came to mind, as well as Eliade, Kundera,  and Ana Blandiana; also more recent figures  like Peter Krištúfek, Igor Štiks, Aleksandar Hemon and Elo Viiding – all from countries that, since the eighteenth century, Western Europe  has regarded as its backward, darker, strange, or contradictory “other”. During the Cold War,  sometimes one bowed – politely, sympathetically, ritually – in the direction of the East, but, to this day, “Europe” often really means France, Germany, Italy… What stories do writers from the other Europe tell?

Taught in the Thompson Writing Program at Duke in the Spring of 2011, the course  offers an introduction to the work of Eastern and Central European writers who, with notable exceptions like Franz Kafka, Isaac Babel, Milan Kundera, or, more recently, Herta Müller and perhaps Aleksandar Hemon, are not very well known outside of their own countries.


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Corina Stan