When the World was Home – Cosmopolitanism as a Modernist Ethos

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When the World was Home – Cosmopolitanism as a Modernist Ethos

“Sisyphus never really wanted to throw the stone into the abyss, because – as if with it around his neck – he too would sink. And here we feel sorry for him. Even if he is punished, he turns the punishment of the gods into his reward – he can still push the stone to the top and stand there… And the top does not stand, it is always moving and growing – it is getting taller and taller, and Sisyphus is getting stronger. Woe to those stones that have no weight to be pushed towards the top, that invites them, but are only so heavy that they never leave their bed – they will be covered by the ground again …”

In conclusion:

As in his other books, so (even more emphasized) in the book “The Whole World is a House”, Bogomil Gjuzel achieves an effective creative synthesis between the spectrum of literary ideas (such as cosmopolitanism), then the different cultural (socio-cultural) reflections and interpretations – on the one hand and the literary works themselves (realized in different genre modalities, from lyrical poems, plays, prose, through essays and travelogues), on the other hand!

Cosmopolitanism in literature (which is most often created in the national language) actually functions as a kind of compensation – exit and salvation – from the national (cultural and social) environment, its narrow-mindedness and (objective) limitation. At the same time, we do not think only of the native national culture and its stereotypes – but of the fact that cosmopolitanism is an effective remedy against the “reverse” disease – the uncritical idolatry of another’s cultural experience and environment, which from the outside really seems so superior to the newcomer, especially if that “foreign” environment are the powerful USA and Britain, while the newcomer himself grew up in the dark vilayet of the Balkans and the “crushed tribe”, of which the Blazhe Koneski’s poem speaks.

Among other things, cosmopolitanism strikes another “therapeutic” moment, by “invoking” humour (itself being one of the essential modernist elements), in the role of an ideal “tool” for breaking down local, internal, provincial limits of stupidity, self-righteousness, pretentiousness…

In his text, published in 1992, on the occasion of the publication of Selected Poems by Gjuzel, and first published in the magazine “Synthesis” (No. 30, 2013: p.74), Vlada Uroshevikj says:


“Gjuzel’s creative and translation work best shows the character of what is called Macedonian modernism of the 1950s and 1960s – which can be described as a deep insight and mutual intertwining of the cosmopolitan and the national principle. In that Macedonian modernism, which did a lot for breaking the ideological-dogmatic constraints in literature and culture … the role of Bogomil Gjuzel was undoubtedly precious: among his peers he led with his curiosity, with his wide information, with his need for wider views, with his hunger for free space.

Perhaps the most appropriate (and anthropologically coloured) conclusion of our text, prompted by the essential role of cosmopolitanism as a driving principle in Bogomil Gjuzel’s literature, can be found in the recently published book “Creolization of Europe” by Armando Gnisci who glorifies the creative nature and stimulus, inherent in movement itself, in mobility, in motility (which, in turn, inevitably goes hand in hand with cosmopolitanism as citizenship in the world),

“Immobility essentially belongs to death just as walking belongs to life. We are born… because we are placed on the path of our matrix to be travellers. I respect this migratory primordial syndrome… History happens and is told every time someone migrates and tells their own adventure. The migration event actually enables us to tell and invent, explain and convey a story, precisely because an adventure happened. Adventure should become a story” (Armando Gnisci: Creolization of Europe, 2013: pp. 163-165).

It was this and such an adventure (in the case of Gjuzel – staying and traveling through America and Ireland) that eventually really became or grew into a “story”, or rather a lavish travelogue, spread out in 360 – instructive, fun, in places, funny and skilfully narrated – pages of text. A text, directly derived and “delivered” by his, always unpredictable Majesty – Life.

Because, as Mikhail Bakhtin, the incorrigible utopian and “dialogist” outcast in the steppes of Kazakhstan, used to say, life itself is already a text! As, in fact, man himself is a text, with all his behaviour and experience… whether sedentary or movement-oriented!

And, at the end of everything we have noticed so far, we can freely state that the densely expressed and impressive coinage “house – the whole world”, after the path it has travelled for the past 75 years, has grown into a recognizable, unavoidable and representative literary Cosmopolis, proving the cosmopolitan orientation of our two writers and their willingness to stand hand in hand (and this especially applies to the “nomad” and traveller Bogomil Gjuzel) with the temptations and challenges of their turbulent modernity, as citizens of the world (and not only cursed inhabitants of a local, remote, semi-European province).

In addition to all that, another interesting, and maybe not so random, biographical moment of coincidence stands out, related to the year of the initial appearance of this coinage in Racin! Namely, the same (for the Macedonian contemporary poetry and literature – historical) 1939 is also the year when the poet Gjuzel was born – which, after all (and in this text as well), leads to the unequivocal conclusion that Bogomil Gjuzel and the “house – the whole world” are (chronologically speaking) peers!



This text was presented on September 26, 2014, in Sofia, within the Second Macedonian-Bulgarian Conference, entitled “Modernism as a European value in Macedonian and Bulgarian literature in the 20th century, similarities and differences.”

AuthorElizabeta Šeleva
2021-06-02T20:02:05+00:00 May 31st, 2021|Categories: Reviews, Literature, Blesok no. 137|0 Comments