Scholarly article on topic 'Identity-focused Narrative and Feminine Shadows in Nora Iuga's Diary – Berlinul meu e un monolog / My Berlin is a Monologue'

Identity-focused Narrative and Feminine Shadows in Nora Iuga's Diary – Berlinul meu e un monolog / My Berlin is a Monologue Academic research paper on "History and archaeology"

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{"Memoir writing" / "feminine narartive traits" / "posttotalitarian narrative" / self-(re)identification;}

Abstract of research paper on History and archaeology, author of scientific article — Nicoleta Ifrim

Abstract The memoir writing conveys a special type of narrative in which the ego launches itself into an identity pilgrimage, the text turning into a representation mirror re-portraying both World and Self. In Nora Iuga's diary - Berlinul meu e un monolog / My Berlin is a Monologue (2010) – the self is re-defined by double-reference: of the Great totalitarian History embedded in the Eastern traveler to the West and that of the feminine identity reshaped in an androcentric world. Both of them are re-constructed within a fascinating literary discourse, whose autobiographical mirrors project back the multiple facets of the feminine writer.

Academic research paper on topic "Identity-focused Narrative and Feminine Shadows in Nora Iuga's Diary – Berlinul meu e un monolog / My Berlin is a Monologue"

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Procedia - Social and Behavioral Sciences 137 (2014) 177 - 181

SEC-IASR 2013

Identity-Focused Narrative and Feminine Shadows in Nora Iuga's Diary - Berlinul meu e un monolog / My Berlin is a Monologue

Nicoleta Ifrima*

aDunarea de Jos University of Galati, Romania

Abstract

The memoir writing conveys a special type of narrative in which the ego launches itself into an identity pilgrimage, the text turning into a representation mirror re-portraying both World and Self. In Nora Iuga's diary - Berlinul meu e un monolog/My Berlin is a Monologue (2010) - the self is re-defined by double-reference: of the Great totalitarian History embedded in the Eastern traveler to the West and that of the feminine identity reshaped in an androcentric world. Both of them are re-constructed within a fascinating literary discourse, whose autobiographical mirrors project back the multiple facets of the feminine writer. © 2014 The Authors. Published by ElsevierLtd.This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.Org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Sports, Education, Culture-Interdisciplinary Approaches in Scientific Research Conference.

Keywords: Memoir writing, feminine narartive traits, posttotalitarian narrative, self-(re)identification;

Transcultural Approaches on Post-totalitarian Memoir Writings.

The latest approaches in comparative cultural studies display the shift of focus from the old dominance of the major / canonical paradigm to the renewal of the so-called 'marginal', 'peripheral' literatures which have overcome their 'subaltern' complex to voice out their cultural difference. Within the cultural transnational dialogue, the post-totalitarian cultures from Eastern Europe promote identity-focused narratives in which the memory of the 'excaptive subject' reshapes its identity profile by confronting its personal history to the Great History of the communist age. By overcoming the hierarchical grid West-(R)East, colonizer-colonized, the contemporary transcultural paradigm is permissive to the rise of 'marginal' voices which become convergent to the multiplicity of transnational identity. As Arianna Dagnino states, 'multiculturalism has been an important step in the development of a consciousness and sensibility of difference. But by overstressing the value of difference as well as of territorial nostalgia for lost geographies and broken identities (with the negative disruption of "displacement" seen as a main trope), it seems unable to foster togetherness and solidarity beyond ethnic/religious/national/cultural borders and to envision alternative modes of belonging for a new kind of de rooted and denationalized generation of citizens.

* Corresponding author: Nicoleta Ifrim Tel.: +40-741-350-935 E-mail address: nicodasca@yahoo.com

1877-0428 © 2014 The Authors. Published by Elsevier Ltd. This is an open access article under the CC BY-NC-ND license (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Selection and peer-review under responsibility of the Sports, Education, Culture-Interdisciplinary Approaches in Scientific

Research Conference.

doi: 10.1016/j.sbspro.2014.05.272

Hence, it can be better viewed as a step in the movement towards the complexity and multiplicity of cultures that might eventually lead to a transcultural mode of being, writing, reading, and critiquing.' (Dagnino, 2013) From a transcultural standpoint, the narratives of the (ex)- 'captive mind' (Czeslaw Milosz, 1988) reshapes the traces of individual memory within the larger framework of collective History which labels the intricacies of the memoir writings published after the fall of the communist dictatorial regimes. This type of literary specificity defines all literary discourses in which the post-traumatic status of the authorial ego is covertly reloaded by autobiographically re-writing its own life mirroring the collective memory / history. Dagnino points out that 'transcultural literature is overcoming the (im)migrant/exile/diasporic/ethnic forms of writing conceived within the context of postcolonialism and multiculturalism — the two dominant paradigms of the last three or four decades — to inscribe itself in the emerging theoretical context of transculturality. Transcultural literature, despite sharing a common constellation of theoretical languages and modes of reasoning, is pursuing a literary discourse that is branching away from the tradition of (im)migrant and postcolonial literatures as the mainstream paradigms in the Literatures of Mobility. Transcultural literature often does have its roots in (im)migration, as well as in postcolonial/diasporic conditions and in the identity depaisement that ensues from them, but it manages to detach itself from them in a process of transformation. Nonetheless, this more or less "imagined" and still roughly theorized process does not imply that these different modes of writing are opposed to each other nor that they are subject to a linear, temporal pattern of development with uncomfortable and unwanted evolutionary, unilinear, or teleological undertones; instead, it conceives of these specific modes of writing as coexisting, interacting, and often overlapping.' (Dagnino, 2013) It is the major standpoint shared by our analysis focusing Nora Iuga's diary -Berlinul meu e un monolog / My Berlin is a Monologue, published in 2010. In her diarist discourse, the Romanian writer embeds traces of identity projected against two major Centres of power: the male dominance and the Western cultural canon - vacillating between these two poles, her memoir-focused narrative enhances an identity quest underlying the personal 'meta-history' of the post-totalitarian ever self-defining ego. The transcultural approach on her diary opens the fluid dialogues among the former 'cultural border' of Romanian literary memory (during its post-totalitarian age) and the West, now 'experienced' in a self-reflexive, mirror-type narrative. Within this confessing narrative framework - Nora Iuga's diary - the transactional dialogue oneness-otherness becomes representative as 'the self and the other are all along discursive factors of the culture of writing: cultural differences and discontinuities are shaped in the dynamics of their mutual bond and the Other as the principle of discontinuity and the self as the principle of continuity. Multifarious perception, imagination, and representation of our self-images are inscribed in chronotopic and transhistorical matrices of world literatures and this exerts ever new individual drives in constituting the sensitive traditions of literary discourses and their key focal point: people's self-understanding.' (Jola Skulj, 2013) The permanent intermingling game of idem-ipse poles (Ricœur) becomes the keypoint of identity reshaping process, as Nora Iuga's diary re-writes the history of the Western experience (in Berlin) of a Romanian woman who confronts her inner traumatic experience (as a 'post-totalitarian subject' coming from Eastern Europe) with the Western realities, both of them being fictionalised within the diary narrative formula. Beyond the factual surface, there is 'une logique d'enchaînement: la cohérence fondatrice n'est plus dans la mêmeté mais dans le coulé et l'intelligence de la suite des événements' which 's'adapte ainsi parfaitement à la structure (contradictoire et changeante) de l'individu moderne, construisant sa nécessaire unité non par une totalisation et une fixation impossibles mais, de l'intérieur et de façon évolutive, autour du récit, fil organisateur. Chacun se raconte l'histoire de sa vie qui donne sens à ce qu'il vit.' (Kaufmann, 2004 a: 15) From this point of view, 'the narrative identity' (Ricœur) of the East-European woman is reshaped by means of the migrant literary patterns as the discourse functions as an interface for the East-West nomadic narrative imaginary, reconstructing both the ego and the national specificity of former 'captive subject' recollecting totalitarian traumas through confession. (see Crihana, 2011 and Antofi, 2013).

Identity Quest Narrative and Feminine Shadows in Nora Iuga's Diary - Berlinul meu e un monolog / My Berlin is a Monologue

Caught between the identity quest and memory quest (two inseparable themes, as Joël Candau puts it - 'Il n'y a pas de quête identitaire sans mémoire et, inversement, la quête mémorielle est toujours accompagnée d'un sentiment d'identité' - apud Wieviorka, 2001: 164), the protagonist writes down her 'idéologie égocéphalocentrique' ('un corpus de pensées, organisé autour des plis les plus secrets de l'intime, est non seulement un produit du social mais une véritable institution en cours de formation. Dictant d'autant plus efficacement ses règles qu'elles semblent provenir des profondeurs de soi' - Kaufmann, 2004 b: 236). The city of Berlin becomes a symbolical locus filled with nostalgic drives of getting appurtenance (the Western reference) which is ever counterbalanced by the phantasm of the Romanian native origins. The 'construction d'une trajectoire identitaire' (Kaufmann, 2004 b: 242) within Nora Iuga's diary is symptomatic for the case of the post-totalitarian literatures which reveal their East-European totalitarian traumas by means of memory-focused discourses so as to voice their otherness within the transnational dialogue. As Wieviorka says, 'de nombreux acteurs ont ainsi témoigné, à partir des années 60, du souci d'inscrire leur identité collective dans l'histoire, une histoire d'où ils s'estimaient exclus ou marginalisés. Ils ont dès lors entrepris de contester l'histoire officielle [...], l'histoire des vainqueurs et des dominants, au nom de leur mémoire de vaincus et de dominés, certes, mais aussi au nom de la contribution de leur groupe de référence à la culture et à la vie collectives." (Wieviorka, 2001: 163). The confessing diary conveys multiple levels of desidentification (Muñoz, 1999) as Nora Iuga progressively leaves behind her 'traditional' systems of reference: the Romanian post-totalitarian 'periphery' complex, the colonized syndrome, the feminist urge for difference in a maledominated world - the direct result of this successive renouncement is a fascinating re-identification of the feminine nature within writing itself. The 'unhomely' status (Bhabha, 1992) of both gender and ethnic extraction is counterbalanced by the identity quest performed on the 'chez-soi de loin' stage (Hall, 2008) Nora Iuga's diary reconstructs the autobiography of the post-totalitarian migrant caught between the two worlds - a gender-oriented one and a cultural dominating one (the German cultural hegemony) - whose dichotomies she directly solves by creating a compensatory identity through the writing itself, namely 'the scriptural identity' culturally travelling though Memory and History now re-approached from a feminine perspective. The inner dilemmas, the self- identification questions, the cultural role of the East-European woman, the impact of the dominant Western Centre on the 'marginal' - all these issues are discussed during Nora Iuga's identitary quest. In Joanna Nowicki's words, „contrairement à majorité des Occidentaux, qui découvrent le monde soit par conquête, soit en accueillant les autres chez eux, soit à travers des voyages de découverte, les Autre Européens connaissent plutôt l'expérience de l'assimilé, de l'exote, de l'allégoriste et de l'exilé, pour reprendre la classification du voyageur moderne proposée par Tzvetan Todorov. Par conséquent, ils ont tendance à l' 'autocélébration identitaire', car leur identité est souvent ébranlée par une histoire politique mouvementée." (Nowicki, 2001: 289); even more, „attitude confuse, inauthenticité, fascination malsaine accompagnée de répulsion: telles sont les différentes facettes des sentiments complexes éprouvés par ces écrivains venus de l'Autre Europe qui ont souvent tâché, sans toujours y parvenir, de se réconcilier avec l'Occident." (Nowicki, 2001: 293) The inner reconciliation of the East-European woman - carrying out the traces of a totalitarian Memory which make her ever question her identity - with the West (seen as a culturally-rooted experience) turns problematic as the identity dilemmas provoke flashbacks on the national specificity question always compared with the German cultural paradigm. From this standpoint, within the writing itself, the identity quest migrates within the limits of two fluid borders - the East and the West -, this initiatic movement stirring up conflictive and tormented ego-recognition acts. The 'personal mythology' is spatially rooted in two contrastive origin loci - Berlin and Bucharest - but made convergent by the unique linking element - the women's Western experience recollecting the homeland trauma mirrored within the identity of the ex-captive in the communist enclave. We could say that Nora Iuga's diary reveals a significant experience of the ex-communist outcast when thrown into the 'free world' re-read now by its literature filter or, to paraphrase Damrosch, 'works of world literature take on a new life as they move into the world at large, and to understand this new life we need to look closely at the ways the work becomes reframed in [...] its new cultural contexts.' (Damrosch, 2003: 24). The Romanian post-totalitarian 'récit de vie' enhances the way in which writing itself can be re-read as a literary testimony of Nora Iuga's traumatic experience, in other words, it represents the East-European 'otherness' which tells its story within world literature frame. For, as Damrosch puts it, 'world literature is not an infinite, ungraspable

canon of works but rather a mode of circulation and of reading, a mode that is as applicable to individual works as to bodies of material, available for reading established classics and new discoveries alike.' (Damrosch, 2003: 5) Seen as a 'mode of reading', the feminine diary of the Romanian writer voices its difference into the new dialogic literary paradigm within which the old hierarchy of the major / Centre has fallen apart to make room to the arrival of the peripheral Eastern narrative. The feminine identity quest embedded in the autobiographical discourse of Nora Iuga's diary literary solves the problem of differentiation: she is the Romanian writes coming from an ex-totalitarian country who faces the 'free' Berlin during her two journeys - re-lived according to the diary' chapters: Fasanenstrasse 23 and Stuttgarter Platz 22. These Western topoi symbolically mark the limits of the identitary quest of the woman who experience the loss / recovery of the self as projected into the fictional autobiographical world. Literature / writing as a compensative universe is brought into discussion when speaking about 'healing' strategies or forgetting mechanism of the Great Dictatorial History as the author re-invents herself along her therapeutic writing. In other words, Nora Iuga's diary displays 'le fascination du je et de ses doubles ou l'éclatement des formes de représentation textuelle du soi' (Francis, 2003:152) The feminine different identity (Francis speaks about the specificity of the feminine vécrire as opposed to the androcentric logocentrism - 2003: 149) exposed in autobiographical pattern counter-balances the phallocentric memoir writing and its canonical traits ('l'autobiographie canonique - Bildung, monumentalité, exemplarité, exhaustivité, unicité - basés sur un portrait public du soi masculine et d'une saisie linéaire, téléologique' - Francis, 2003: 149). The generic erotic coverage that dresses up both totalitarian Great History and the minor, personal history as well, the grid of feeling filtering the traumatic experiences give specificity to the narrative that approaches issues such as Romanian identity, communist epoch, political urge, the communist profile of the woman, the torturer-tortured relation, feminine vs. masculine, the East and the West, the minor vs. major literature. In fact, the self-reflexive narrative turns subjective in the way Francis speaks about: 'La pratique autofictionelle et autobiographique féminine reste [...] modélisée par une voix énonciative, moins contrainte par l'événementiel et la cognition que par une saisie phénoménologique, mnémonique, émotive et corporelle de soi-même, de l'autre et de l'univers, qui détermine l'autoperception du soi comme sujet. La subjectivité au féminin se révèle manifestement au niveau de l'incidence des dimensions perceptive et pathémique sur la structuration de l'ènonciation autobiographique. D'où l'importance, dans les autobiographies au féminin (fortement investies d'émotivité, de mémoire et d'une subjectivité qui se cherche), des propriétés cognitivo-sensibles, des modalités du sentir, du percevoir, du voir et du dire.' (Francis, 2003: 154-155) The city of Berlin, the topos connecting the two episodes of the diarist adventure, becomes the key-element of the re-identification process: 'The best way of writing is waking down the street; this way I have written the first part of my diary, Fasanenstrasse 23, by sitting down on benches, in trains, in graveyard at Kostas Venetis's tomb, in bistros, but now I have to write while indoors as it is august. [...]. Maybe this is way my Berlin from Stuttgarter Platz 22 is ever hardly to reach, as I can not get to it but from my room window. Actually, I do not even write about Berlin, I write about me and this is perfectly normal, as Berlin is a small parcel inserted - due to an arbitrary delimitation - into an non-limited territory called Nora Iuga.' (our translation) (Iuga, 2010: 158-159). From this perspective, Nora Iuga's diary conveys the sense of identity grasped within the symbolical pilgrimage among the conflictive poles of the representation paradigm: the Eastern traveller carrying the phantasms of the former totalitarian Centre to the West to whom tries to tell her literaturised story and the women writer who, in a men' world, voices out her otherness by constructing a narrative focused on feeling and erotic expression of the self.

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