Within the recent Macedonian dramatic literature, especially those determined as postmodern, very interesting outlooks emerged – certain new readings in the Balkans. Postmodern perception, with emphasized principle of the quotation and communication to the tradition and the inheritance, which from its aspect comprehends a free merging to entire world treasury, gave very interesting attempts to re-evaluate the Balkans myth perceived from the wider perspective, enriched with many experiences, used as bounding material, as evidences and specific attachments to the most different experiences collected in the world huge library. Satisfactorily would it be only to be mentioned, the already paradigmatic Balkans is not Dead, or even more impressive The Powder Keg by D. Dukovski, two typically postmodern texts depicting very core of the Balkan`s social trouble, which can not be-even with love-pulled out from the estranged relations, that is to say a situation of gunpowder keg, ready to explode any moment. Goran Stefanovski reads the Balkans also as double bottom, but also as endless bacchanalia where the fathers eat their children, initiating illogical wars, useful to nobody. Feminine Contribution for the Night, and Inarticulate Tongue by Blaže Minevski are atypical pictures of the Balkans. Nevertheless the Balkans also is portrayed in Who do You belong to and Sin or Scpritzer by S. Nasev. And in this case, we have decided for the dramatic reading of Balkans by Venko Andonovski, out of vast majority texts dealing the complex problem of the Balkans in different ways.
Andonovski in the beginning starts somehow prophetic with one very actual problem – the dilemma of the terrorism, offering wider inclination in the Infernal Machine to one very important human interrelation, where everyone oppresses and terrorizes the other, seeking various excuses, whereby the supreme argument is the tradition (as in Powder Keg by Dukovski).
The following play, Riot in the Home for Aged is a play about the rebellion, about the desire to change the states: riot for the dissent order of the things opposing the anarchic freedom of the elder generation, which brings to the total chaos only because of the personal interests. Under special attack is the weakness of the intellectuals and their hesitations to realize the principles of the freedom. This situation is used by the primitives to impose their comprehension about the order of the things. Regarding – the noble, but radical strivings of the idealists, customary always misused by somebody else, some primitive interpreter who simplifies the things to the final limits in order to reach his ultimate aim – to reach the power, but not the freedom. This topic is Balkan`s in as much as it is general and eternal (in certain occasion we made a parallel between the works of Mrożek, D Jancar and V. Andonovski).1F The key critic in this play is the conservationism and the traditionalism of our, certainly, Balkan`s settings, symbolically expressed through the stenography of the fridge where all protagonists are placed. This conservationism for Andonovski is not just political, but also cultural, and intellectual since the society through its institutions, fabrics the youth, suffocates their creative originality and freedom. (In other words, any war in Balkans, could start only because a verse change in a folk song as Andonovski says).
In Slavonic Chest, the actual Balkan reality is expressed through the symbol of coffin. However, dissimilarly the previous knowledge of the traditionalism, now the significance of the coffin is not negative. It symbolizes, certain preceding world – Slavic mythological past, fairy tales and legends, but before all certain Slavic mentality, burdened with the desire to escape in the past dreams, a collision with the real, brutal world (extensively elaborated in the essay – dialogue of the two characters – Snake and Doll).
One world seen as world of shadows and dust. The fable/myth about the Dragon who captures a girl is part of that world where the whole play is based on. Accordingly, the fable is narrated on two levels in the play – in the original – mythological form, but also in contemporary way, revived by the main protagonists. One modern Dragon (Snake – nowadays drug dealer and pimp) misuses certain modern girl (Bella), furthermore the young man – the hero (Doll), tries but in vain to save her -. The second part of the fable – about the child, who found his real father with an apple – on one hand it reveals the future dreamer, the prolonger of the Slavic casket’s magic – of the Slavic tradition and Slavic mentality, reborn always, but on the other hand – revels our one (Balkans, Slavic) weakness – constantly searching for our father/idol, for the meaning but outside of us, in the world which always seems more beautiful then our own.
It is a play about the decay of the typically old Slavic values, about the sensibility that leads to destruction, since the people who own such characteristics are not resourceful they are weak in a material and rotten world, striving for humanity and love.
In the play, Candide in Wonderland, the already established postmodernist Andonovski rebuilds his dramatic text on one quite different base, that is to say he tries again to see Balkans through other prism. And now it is Voltaire’s Candide, one of the most famous work of the French encyclopedist. Voltaire (Francois-Marie Arouet, 1694 – 1778) writes in the period when the idea of popularization the new philosophical ideas about the man and the society, is well spread among the philosophers, aiming to become efficient, i.e. to bring the science and the philosophy closer to people. They make literary their views and meditation, connoting that the philosophers explain their ideas not only in the scientific disputes, but also in the novels, stories, letters and pamphlets.
Voltaire wrote Candide in 1759, it realy went trough great success but also at same time trough great critics. Distinctive for enlightening philosophy, elaborated in this novel, is the fact that the problems of a man, his knowledge, moral and happiness emerge in the foreground. Dissimilar to former metaphysical approach, the philosophy is aked to be immediately useful to man, who is now utterly independent, becoming the core, aim and measure for everything. The science, the art, and the primarily existing society institutions are summoned to court of the conscience, and as far as their rationality could not be proved, they lose their right for existence. Enlightened rationalism led the people think that they could find safe ways for the world metamorphosis, thus the philosophy gained significant role – to rule restructuring of the reality.
Even back in 1734 in The Philosophical Dictionary, Voltaire reveals the power of the book as a weapon in service to freedom, against the intolerance, the darkness and the absolute authority. Later on he exposes the original form of the philosophical fable/story (conte philosophique), genre were Zadig (Zadig L`Ingenu1748), Micromega (1752), and certainly, The Candide or Optimism (1759) are placed. His voluminous opus consisted of military works, pamphlets, intense correspondence but the philosophical fable takes exclusive place serving as a mean to popularizate his ideas. In the novel Candide, Voltaire illustrates, i.e. parodies the philosophy of optimism through the schematic characters and the overall procedure. Through the structure of the novel, based on conventions, clichés and the metaphor– of that time novel ( adventurous, sentimental) – which represent a parody of the romanesque (widely used here the role of the event, the mystery, miraculously accumulated dangers and peripeteia, original décor, double recognitions, stylization of the characters and schematization of their reaction), i.e. through this attitude towards the genre and the style he hates, Voltaire parodies the poverty of this kind, but also some philosophical ideas.
First on his strike exposed, would be the philosophy of optimism, whose bearer in the novel is Pangloss. Voltaire vulgarizes, so laughs at the Leibnitz`s theory using this character of raison suffisante, (sufficiant reason), meaning: every effect represents one unintelligible reason that explains it. The comic here derives from: “non of the reasons could be absolutely, sufficient”. (For Candide, the sufficient reason for all his actions is Cunegonde) Otherwise, as this idea is very picturesquely interpreted: the bayonet is sufficient reason for the death of thousand people in the war conflicts).
Through the different situations and countries he passes – Candide, who was raised in “the best of all words “(aristocratic castle in Westphalia) – slowly the optimism based on the Pangloss teaching quakes. Beside the degradation of the novel and the romanesque, actually with it we end up to the degradation of the dream, of the optimism. It is an intellectual transformation of the young hero Candide, whose ideal bends on delusion. The parody of the sentimentally-adventurous novel is being encircled with the scene of the eventual discovery of Cunegonde and his matrimony with her – yet this does not mean attaining ideal happiness – as Cunegonde not only has stormy past but also is aged, become ugly and simply – unbearable. In fact, it is one completely different idea from the novelistic cliché: victory of the trivial reality over the novelistic presentation of the eternal love, which remains pure and unprofaned passing through peripeteia, thus the lovers remain eternally young and beautiful, untouched by the outdoor torments forced to go through.
One of the key issues in the novel also precedes from Pangloss philosophy. According to him, there is no effect without the reason, then the question is posed – Why is the man created? Voltaire appoints the explanation of this question, by the end of his novel, with two key parables: the parable of the dervish and the parable of the gardener. The dervish thinks it is not a matter of man so he must not interfere in the God’s matters, since God has created the man and He is supposed to look after him, so the man should remain silenced, to live in peace eating his daily bread… to leave the world passing as it is, i.e. to reconcile himself to everything that goes on to him and not to search for answers. It is the lowest point of the Candidee`s pesimism.
The parable of the wise man has the point: everybody should dig his own garden. This elder, giving example, is the single one who offers Candide life significance: to live from the fruits of his own labor, therefore overcoming the three evil principles that torture the man: the dullness (inactivity), vice and necessity.
The moral of the garden of which Candide determines, means condemnation of the caricatured illusion in the heaven on Earth – the native Westphalia: nobility, love and metaphysic, and directing towards the economical and social role of the agriculture. Even Pangloss who has to subdue the Candide tries if not to change but at least to adopt his views to this new situation – trying also metaphysically, according to certain Biblical reference, to interprete the work necessity.
Voltaire’s philosophical story/fable represents an original structure, exploited to express the imperfection of the world. Using the elements from that time actual adventure, piker and sentimental novel and their means, he achieves demystification of the genres, hence simultaneously of the life. Before all it proves the ideal/idealistic societies, also the happiness of the man are chimeras.
Particularly interesting is the position of the narrator. There is a distinction between the author (Voltaire) and the narrator in the novel. The work is presented as a translation from German, hence it is erasing procedure of the author, equals the overcoming of the classical taste: the fixation dares not to present itself as such, thus takes image of reality of (discovered) manuscript, introduced as authentic. The fictitious character of the work is erased in benefit to probability, thus accordingly Voltaire avoided the danger of censorship. From the current perspective here, we discover one typically postmodern proceeding.
Thus achieving distance between the author and the work (third person presents the manuscript), it gives impresion that the narrator is not incarnated in the characters. Denotating that the fiction looks as the objective reality, pretending the authenticity of testemony (“there was in Westfalia…”)
This effect of objectivisation allows inversion of the presentation and the reality.2F
The fantastic story of the novel is closely related to the political history, economy and the sociological circumstances of the century when the novel is created. It serves as collector of the idea, as a connection between the metaphysics and the forms of tyranny whose victims are the philosophers and Voltaire. He bands on the imaginary, on the utopia in order to pose many actual issues.
The intrigue is atemporal, but Voltaire inserts many references directing the actual occasions. Such approach offers the reader unusual/strange way of perception after the recognized facts.
Many “lectures”, teachings or decrees are comprised in Candide: first the quite actual conflict with the Church – clergy and the church institutions, the conflict of the Christians with the sects and other religions, with the inquisition, with hypocrisy of the Church, yet also underlining absurdity of the war, the revolt against the evil. Contradictory – emphasizing his striving for peace, tolerance and action.
As most significant, usually is distinguished the message of the novel: to till our own garden, on other hand representing certain contraction of the Voltaire’s horizon, that is to say correlates not to his nature. In the last chapter of the novel a whole system of signs determine his inclination: common life for members of many religious groups (Muslims and Christians) – according to Voltaire, such tolerance is possible only when the dogmas will be abundant in benefit to the practical merits.
1 N. Petkovska: Rebellion against the order of the things in the plays “Tango” by S. Mrożek,”The Great Brilliant Waltz” by D. Jancar and “The Riot in the Home for the Aged” by V. Andonovski. Slovenian-Macedonian conference, Ljubljana, 25-26.10.2000
2 Michel and Jeanne CHARPENTIER: CANDIDE. VOLTAIRE, Paris, Ed. Fernand Nathan, 1989