Literarische Inszenierungen der ostmitteleuropäischen Nicht-Orte der Erinnerung in Monika Sznajdermans ‚Pusty las‘ [‚Der leere Wald‘] (2019)
Pages 443 - 467
East-European Non-Places of Memory and Their Literary Dramatization in ‚The Empty Forest‘ by Monika Sznajderman (2019)
The article analyzes the narrative and aesthetic strategies employed by Monika Sznajderman in her novel ‚The Empty Forest‘ (2019) represent places which have been repressed and eliminated from collective and cultural memory. The novel is set in the Lower Beskid region (the Polish village of Wołowiec and its vicinity)—a territory which is often surrounded by various taboos and which, in the pre-war period, was populated by diverse nationalities: Lemkos, Hutsuls, Rusyns, Jews, Sinti and Roma. Countervailing the predominating oblivion and obliteration of the traces of the past, the text tries to approach the non-places of memory (sensu Meyran) resorting to strategies of mediated recollecting. The novel’s narrative axis is structured by descriptions of forgotten places and landscapes, by newspaper fragments, metrical books, and public records, as well as by reflections on abandoned things and plants overgrowing forgotten lands. This ‘post-memorial’ perspective allows Sznajderman to rescue lost places and people from oblivion, equip them with individual characteristics, and, as a result, assert her own identity as a novelist who inhabits a space foreign to her, as if handed down by those who are themselves absent and forgotten.