Spaces of Identity - Part 20

posted by usha on 2006/06/28 02:49

[ Spaces of Identity ]

Interesting, and still it bears the character of a riddle: When a vast space enters a small place from the outside, Quixotes are born. Thus, Quixote is a kind of an imploding space.

Add the well-known fact that Quixote is this guy who is continuously mistaken by his perceptions or places objects into parallel spaces, one could, indeed, develop a whole theory of intertwined spaces out of this.

Now, where come do the Balkans come into the picture? - Ismail Kadare is explaining this detail in his essay in Eurozine: It has to do with Quixote's inner power to transgress interior and exterior worlds, and his further to do with the multifaceted symbol of humanity this figure bears.

Thus, Quixote entered the Balkans many times and he was always changing the symbolic, political, and literary landscape of the Balkans:

In the preface that accompanies the book, the bishop [who translated the book into Albanian] said that Don Quixote would be understood better in the Balkans than in any other country. He believed he saw parallels between Spain's relation to the wide-open spaces of America and the Balkans' relation to the Ottoman Empire, even if their fates were opposite. While Spain invaded the great American expanses, the Balkan people were invaded by a force that came from the wide-open spaces.

It is as if Spain were to have been invaded by the American Indians. Nevertheless, the results were more or less the same: the vast Ottoman Empire established adventurous relations with the people of the Balkans. It had a hundred thousand excellent soldiers – very obedient soldiers – but no officers. It needed the Balkan derring-do. This explains why the Ottoman army formed its military elite mainly with Balkan officers, especially Albanians. These officers and mercenaries remained unemployed when the empire disintegrated. And here the bishop finds the parallels between these people and Don Quixote and Sancho Panza, who have not gone to America, but wander here and there and dream of returning to the past.
So, could one claim in conclusion that the Balkans are the very idea of an Quixotic space, all the above-mentioned implications included? I myself still have to think about it, yet, I am sure, I somehow like the idea. Let's work on that one!


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