„Стена” Марлен Гаусгофер: австрийский вариант изоляции
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The novel „The Wall” („Die Wand”, 1963) by the Austrian writer Marlen Haushofer (1920-1970) is analyzed from the perspectives of modern literary anthropology. Attention is focused on the poetics of everyday life and the ways of communication during total isolation. The phenomenon of the barrier that separates the nameless first-person narrator from the usual coexistence with people is considered. The gradual reception of a conditional wall with certain stages is emphasized: identification through naming, state of fear and impulse to destroy an object, its visualization (finding of a material form), equating it to a weapon of mass destruction and consciously ignoring the irritant. The adaptation means of the female protagonist to the new reality with the opposition „city-village”, and „man-animal” are studied. The poetics of everyday life is clearly demonstrated in the detailed daily routine with the adaption of home (a hunting lodge with outbuildings and a mountains hut), the struggle for the harvest of potatoes and legumes, hunting for wild animals and caring for domestic animals, hay and firewood harvesting for the winter. The role of animals in human survival is emphasized on the physical and mental levels. The continual company of the protagonist is Bella the cow (a symbol of motherhood and vitality) and the Cat (a symbol of female rebelliousness and independence), harmoniously complementing each other. Later Pearl the kitten and Tiger the tomcat and then Bull will join them for a while. It is believed that the death of the younger generation, which did not know life outside the ghetto, indicates the inability of living beings to new realities. Another member of the post-apocalyptic community, the dog named Lynx, is an attentive listener, a tireless companion for walks in the woods, a cheerful comforter and a good-natured protector. Lynx becomes a true friend and source of optimism for the first-person narrator unhappy by nature. The novel also represents the call: „Do not kill”, which is one of the leitmotifs of the writer’s work. Therefore, the thesis that there is no more reasonable feeling than love helps to overcome the boundaries between humans and animals, radically revising the traditional forms of interaction between them. This fact intensifies the hidden misanthropy of the character, which she gradually realizes and finally accepts after meeting a stranger who destroyed her fragile world with his unexpected appearance. Thus, anthropocentrism is replaced by biocentrism: a human does not just become one with other living beings but loses his status as a superbeing. The chain of events after the catastrophe, presented by the heroine in a memory diary with flashbacks into the „common” past, demonstrates attempts at self- reflection of the person in a crisis, where the wall is only a trigger of existence. Forced detachment from human fuss puts before the protagonist some traditional ontological and eschatological questions, which she had not really thought about before. The reports replace the possibility of habitual communication and become one of the forms of isolated communication of an individual with a hypothetical interlocutor or with his hidden self. The results of the protagonist’s introspection also relate to determining her gender and age. A different rhythm of life with a predominance of hard physical labour and a monotonous diet against the background of internal extrasituation’s experiences affects the physique and perception of her body as an ex-city dweller. The climax of the protagonist’s inner metamorphosis takes place in the second summer “behind the wall” in the alpine meadows. This technique allows M. Haushofer to highlight the coordinates of the antinomy „top-bottom” and „civilization-nature”. The open ending of the novel, which seems to be the most life-affirming episode in the general narrative, intensifies the protagonist’s antisocial character, readiness for loneliness and the struggle for survival. The woman’s stories end with a phrase about a white crow that is waiting for her. The albino bird complements the novel bestiary, its image corresponds with its semantic colouring, and therefore it is equated with an outcast and demonstrates the perception of the Alien / Other. In allegorical form M. Haushofer depicts the detachment and loneliness of a marginal person in modern society among a false community of identical persons. At the same time, the white crow personifies hope, because it appears in the third autumn when the woman internally reconciles herself with factors beyond her control and begins to simply live, despite future difficulties. Isolation for outcasts means a chance to adapt to a new reality when much depends not on society as an institution of control, but you. In our case, the Austrian version of isolation is presented. The Austrianness of the situation in the novel reveals in the author’s figure and its socio-historical context. M. Haushofer creates a typical image of an ordinary 40-year-old Austrian, recently widowed mother of two daughters. Moreover, her sporadic family memories are either neutral (husband) or negative (problem teenagers). The Alpine valley and meadow – the limited heroine’s area could be regarded as a symbol of Austria in the middle of the 20th century – a small tourist country on the huge geopolitical map of the world. In conclusion, M. Haushofer’s novel is an original invariant of man’s adaptation to the new reality during a catastrophe and/or in the post-apocalyptic world. The metaphor of the wall allows the author to mark the borderline between society and people, civilization and nature. Total isolation makes it possible to take a fresh look at the stereotyped relationships between people and animals, which are not opposed but radically revised from the standpoint of communication on an equal footing. The poetics of everyday life reveals concrete mechanisms and models of the adaptation of living beings to isolation from the perspective of literary anthropology.