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The Symbolic Role of Ex-Yugoslav Literature in The Ministry of Pain by Dubravka Ugrešić

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The paper deals with the ways in which Dubravka Ugrešić treats Yugoslav/Croatian literature, literary genres, conventions and style in her novel The Ministry of Pain. From the perspective of an exiled professor of literature, Tanja Lucić, and her exiled students living in the Netherlands, Yugoslav literature is perceived and valued in the light of several non-literary factors. Tanja Lucić finds it absurd to teach their former country’s literature (or literatures) as if the notion of nation, to which they no longer seem to relate, or the future war and trauma are always already inscribed in it. This oppositional reading and its reflection in the very design of the novel The Ministry of Pain will be discussed in this paper, in an effort to outline Ugrešić’s post-national poetics.

Affiliations: 1: University of Novi Sad,


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1. Kosmos I. (2015). Mapiranje egzila u djelima postjugoslavenskih autora, PhD thesis, Department of Comparative Literature, University of Zagreb, Zagreb.
2. Mitrev D. et al. (eds.), Novija jugoslavenska poezija (Zagreb: Naprijed, 1966).
3. Ugrešić D., Američki fikcionar (Beograd: Plavi jahač, 1995).
4. Ugrešić D.,, The Culture of Lies , trans. Hawkesworth Celia (London: Weidenfeld and Nicolson, 1998).
5. Ugrešić D.,, The Museum of Unconditional Surrender , trans. Hawkesworth Celia (New York: New Directions, 2002).
6. Ugrešić D., Ministarstvo boli (Beograd: Fabrika knjiga, 2004).
7. Ugrešić D.,, The Ministry of Pain , trans. Heim Michael Henry (Harper Collins e-books, 2009).
8. Wachtel A.B., Making a Nation, Braking a Nation. Literature and Cultural Politics in Yugoslavia (Stanford: Stanford University Press, 1998).
9. Willliams D., Writing Postcommunism: Towards a Literature of the EastEuropean Ruins (London: Palgrave Macmillan, 2013).
10. Young S.,, ‘"Yugonostalgia and the Post-National Narrative"’. In The New Order of War , edited by Brecher B. (Amsterdam: Editions Rodopi, 2010), 89110.

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