AN EDUCATION VIA MEMORY (LADISLAV BALLEK: 'JUZNA POSTA' /SOUTHERN POST/ )
The study deals with a collection of short stories 'Juzná posta' (Southern Post, 1974), written by Slovak prose author Ladislav Ballek. Interpretation is based on an assumption of mutual and strong coherence between all the stories. All of them are interweaving into a consistent epic work. The message of each of them exceeds intention of autonomous story. A child protagonist Ján Jurkovic is an important unifying element of the book. He is attracted by unknown, strange world of grown-ups. In most of the stories he is more than an observer, he is a person involved. But everything he can perceive from seeing and listening becomes a part of his private 'novel of education'. Though narration he also adopts some aspects of author's narrative form, the perspective is partly personalised - adapted to the child hero. The narrator uses a double perspective keeping both naturalness of the child's view and it's correction through eyes of an adult. Reminiscent modality is typical for the short stories of 'Juzná posta'. A hidden story - the story of human memory- in the Ballek's book is developed concurrently with the plots subordinated to explicit conveyed themes. The narrative cycle uses different generic bases. It is a characteristic transformation of the 'novel of education' and there are also elements of adventurous reading and generic structure of a story with a secret. An important structural element of the work is its country-space plan and geographical orientation. The location of south, also stressed by the title, bears its own culture and it serves also as a specific literary symptom. The character of countryside differs from the traditional vertical concept of literary topography of Slovakia, developed and petrified from the period of Romanticism, for which rigorous, monumental, ascetically cold picture of north was typical. Ballek depicts south as a place of culture, a Slovak-Hungarian boarder, formed by a man. Typical for his literary picture is a horizontal line containing sharp sensual impulses provoking mostly eyes and ears. The centre of his space in the entire book is a frontier town Palánk. The south boarder is a relatively open place where different cultural and linguistic influences merge into one another. In the context of the L. Ballek's works, 'Juzná posta' is the first book from an extensive prose cycle located to Palánk. This cycle belongs to the most important epic projects in the Slovak literature of the 70th and 80th.
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