Critique as a Dialogue

Critique as a Dialogue

(to “Literature through a Critical Point of View” by Ana Martinoska, published by the Institute of Macedonian Literature, Skopje, 2021)

Questions about the role, influence, and significance of literary critique have been pertinent for a long time. Returning to the texts by Ana Martinoska, now collected in the form of a book entitled “Literature through a critical perspective”, for several years as I have read them on Internet portals, in magazines and anthologies where they were originally published, I realize how much the critique is needed today. Also because I, inspired by Martinoska’s erudite analyzes, have read most of the works she has referred to, and because I know many other people she influenced in the same way. Simply put, some works that were of interest to her interpretation, without her recommendations and interpretations, would have a far smaller readership. These texts by Martinoska are important not only for us, the readers directed to read new works but also for the authors themselves. Certainly, because those critiques provided them with new readers, but above all, because especially through the critique the authors face with themselves, with what they do, with the literature as a vocation, or, in the words of Serge Dubrovsky: “The critic represents the writer that the writer needs, because writing calls for writing, just as every act of consciousness requires its subject to become aware of itself and another person to ‘take it over’ by acknowledging it. By itself, literature is an irresistible need, which critics come to satisfy, after that dialogue where everyone facing the other becomes the one who he is.”

In that way, through the confrontation with the critique, the authors themselves become who they are, those who will be – Martinoska’s critique maintains (and supports) their creative Self, both in the present and in the future, and in the works created by them, and those who have yet to be created by them.

The author in the preface “Intimate List of Favorite Literature” reveals the way the book was created: despite her engagement in extensive scientific projects at the Institute of Macedonian Literature, her curiosity as a reader and critic led her to discover and interpret works that were not related to specific scientific research.

This is how the book was created over the years, piece by piece, text by text, and this book, as an achievement of, as the author says, her “desire to make my own intimate list of favorite readings, but at the same time to make representative selection of works dedicated to some of the most current names from the Macedonian and European literary scene.”

“Literature through a critical point of view” is divided into two parts, “Macedonian prose textbook” and “European literary worlds”, whose titles speak volumes about how this grouping of texts came about quite naturally. The first part of the book begins with a critical review of the latest book by Elizabeta Bakovska, an author who has proven her exceptional and diverse talent in poetry, the art of the novel, storytelling, literary theory, and translation. This time it is a collection of short stories, “In my head, I hear a song (lyrical refrains)”, a book, as Martinoska says, about delicate emotional states on essential topics, emphasizing the “literary and aesthetic, but also the empathetic and universal human dimension” of prose of Bakovska. The next critique, for the novel “Splinter” by Igor Angjelkov, emphasizes the unpretentious prose approach of the author, as well as his direct style, but also his ability in his novel to deal with our reality, to bring to light what is happening to us here and now, through a specific encounter of realism and meta-fiction. The book continues with critiques of the novel “Summer when you are gone” by Petar Andonovski, which Martinoska defines as “probably the first Macedonian queer novel”, but above all, a novel “for the struggle to be your own”; of the book of interviews “Echo of Freedom” by Ana Jovkovska, which Martinoska characterizes as “a rare combination of the urban, the artistic and the mental”; of the book of modern fairy tales “The Little Man” by Aleksandar Prokopiev, and the reshaped characters of Tom Thumb, the Hunter and the Bad Queen, the little snake, the eagle king, the three swans, placed in new contexts.

Then Martinoska leads us through the cruelty of the modern world in the stories “Pure Heroin” by Dejan Krstevski; interprets the conflict with society through the pursuit of achieving their own top scientific potentials of Marija Sklodovska Kiri from the dramatic text “The dazzling love of Marija S. K.” by Mimoza Ristova; brings us closer to Itar Peyo’s wit and insightful humor from the collection of short stories “Pyramid. Labyrinth” by Hristo Petreski; confirms the authentic narrative skill realized in the novel “Eleven Women” by Snezana Mladenovska Angjelkov (defining it as “a beautiful female-female letter, without quotation marks and as such deserves an honorable place in the gender sensitive history of Macedonian novel”); analyzes the ways in which Vesna Damchevska in “From the Room to Hollywood (The Picture of a Woman Artist in a Biographical Film)” deconstructs the dominant images (relationship with man, their sexuality, motherhood, body as a representative of femininity and its destruction, female nomadism and oppression of creative potentials) in several films; focuses on taboo topics (“mental illness, domestic violence and female sexuality, all within a highly conservative Balkan environment”) in Frosina Parmakovska’s novel “Countdown”; interprets texts from “Poetic (re)visions (Studies, Reviews and Essays sbout poetry) by Vladimir Martinovski as “a revision of the aesthetic and ethical, the mythical and the mystical, the sacred and the spiritual, of the East and the West, of music, painting and other arts, of intercultural insights.”

Ana Martinoska often does not focus only on the book that is the subject of her review but also makes a panoramic analysis of the previous works of the authors to better understand their creative development and to place the current work in the context of their overall work. Avoiding the clichés into which the reviewer’s approach can easily fall, Martinoska knows how to give a sketch in her texts for (not only creative but also human) portraits of the authors she writes about. Either to tell an anecdote or to look back in time, for example in the critique of “The Little Man” returns to her beginnings in the Institute of Macedonian Literature, when, after employment, her first text was precisely for another, then just printed, Aleksandar Prokopiev’s book.

There is no doubt that the works that attract the author’s curiosity are those that are characterized by impressively engaged writing that corresponds to the time in which we live, that is, as she says in the preface of her book, these are books by the authors which “open new pages in Macedonian literature and literary science, who bravely write about new topics.” Hence the even greater importance of this book is a support of the new, of what has yet to be established, what connects the present and the future in Macedonian literature.

“Literature through a critical point of view” is not only composed of literary critiques; there are texts and scientific papers in which Ana Martinoska through a critical perspective looks on the literary phenomena, phenomena, and even social processes and events, and all of them together confirm her interest and commitment to literary, cultural and gender studies. These texts include “The Story about Rumena Buzharovska Lost on the Macedonia-Croatia-Macedonia Route”, which begins with the initial inspiration: the performance of the Macedonian (and internationally renowned and confirmed prose writer) Rumena Buzharovska at the 2015 Split’s “Prichigin” Storytelling Festival, which, due to a mix of circumstances and misunderstandings involving portals and social networks (which resembles the game we played as children and was called “broken phone”) caused numerous controversial media articles. In the text, Martinoska explores the impact that the media and social networks have on us, and the fake news (or misreported information), as a means of defocusing the masses in times of crisis and critical times. The text continues with a presentation of Buzharovska’s activism, her awareness of the need for engaged literature, and therefore addresses some key issues of gender themes she opened in her stories, and that brought her success that transcended not only national borders but also spread beyond regional Balkan frameworks reaching international proportions.

AuthorGoce Smilevski
2022-04-04T05:22:43+00:00 March 30th, 2022|Categories: Reviews, Literature, Blesok Editions, Blesok no. 142|Comments Off on Critique as a Dialogue