The Encylopedia of the Dead (European Classics) by Danilo Kis

By Danilo Kis

This choice of brief tales depicts human relationships, encounters, landscapes and the multitude of information that make up human life.

From Publishers Weekly
Kis ( backyard, Ashes ) makes an attempt to dazzle along with his showmanship as he restlessly dons one stylistic mantle after one other during this richly artistic selection of tales. the result's erratic. a few of these brief narrativeswhich take dying, literature and love as their themesare perfunctory educational workouts; others are wonderful because the author's heavy, opulent language produces a seductive, dreamlike surroundings. within the surreal name tale, a Yugoslav girl stumbles upon a big encyclopedia compiled through a mysterious spiritual sect whose sole function is to list the lives of the useless in coaching for Judgment Day. In it, she unearths her father's biography and her personal antecedents. "To Die for One's kingdom Is Glorious" describes the previous few hours of a nobleman sentenced to loss of life for his involvement in a bloody rebellion opposed to the Austro-Hungarian empire. In "The Legend of the Sleepers" (inspired by means of a sura within the Koran), a Christian martyr awakens from the lifeless numerous centuries later and reveals himself in a trancelike meditation concerning the prior, current and destiny. Kis's philosophical musings should still pride readers who loved his countryman Milorad Pavic's Dictionary of the Khazars.

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Sophia sm iled an am biguous smile. ” Sim on w ent on. “ H e has,” said Peter, without hesitation. “ H e has cured lepers, he has . ” • 21* . chan ged w ater into wine, et cetera, et cetera,” Sim on interjected. “ Y e s,” Peter continued. “ H e has m ade a calling o f m ir­ acles and . ” “ I thought carp en try was his calling,” said Sim on. “ A n d ch arity,” said Peter. ” “ T h a t’s easily said,” Peter replied, with a quiver in his voice. “ H e’s picked up all kinds o f tricks in the bazaars o f E g y p t,” said one o f P eter’s disciples.

W hen I saw him, I burst into tears: he was som ebody else. ) N ow here he is in fron t o f the C afe Central, then at a cinem a, w here a piano plays while Voyage to the Moon un folds on the screen. L ater we find him looking over newly posted an ­ nouncem ents on the notice board in Jelacic Square, one o f which— and I m ention it only as a curiosity— announces a lecture by K rleza. T h e nam e o f A n n a Erem ija— a m aternal aunt, in whose Ju risic Street flat in Z agreb he will later live— figures here side by side with the nam es o f K rizaj, the op era singer, w hom he once passed in the U p p e r T o w n ; Ivan Labus, the cobbler who rep aired his shoes; and a certain A n te Dutina, in w hose bakery he bought his rolls .

A lth ou gh nearly five years had passed since the event, B a n d u ra ’s voice grew hoarse and m uffled w hen ever he spoke o f it, as if he w ere choking on a cough. It was not only the result o f alcohol, though the truth o f it was that by then he had becom e a ruin abandoned by his kind, a hu ge rusty ship ru n agrou n d and rotting in the shallows. “ D on ’t w o rry,” B a n d u ra wheezed. “ N o w hore on earth . 2 ? ” G reen h ou se flow er beds and abandoned outlying g a r­ dens had been ravaged fo r M ariette’s fu n eral; dogs barked all night; the hounds w ere called out, and Alsatians straining at the collar, that canine crown o f thorns; links o f heavy chains slid up taut steel wires, clanging like the chains o f all history’s slaves; and no one had the slightest inkling, not even the tired old gard en ers in whose ailing bones lay a history o f ailm ents as enorm ous as the history o f the proletariat, that on that night a sm all, separate revolution had taken place: the sailors o f the port o f H am burg storm ed the villas o f the w ealthy; the proletarian children o f L e H avre, M arseilles, A n tw erp m assacred the gladioluses, slitting stems at the root with sh arp sailor’s knives and tram pling m inor flora, unw or­ thy o f the knife, with heavy, scruffy boots.

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