BRATISLAVA AS A CULTURAL BORDERLAND IN THE DANUBIAN NARRATIVES OF PATRICK LEIGH FERMOR AND CLAUDIO MAGRIS
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This article examines the Danube as a site of cultural memory and exploration, focusing on the descriptions of Bratislava as seen by British travel writer Patrick Leigh Fermor in A Time of Gifts (1977) and Italian literary scholar Claudio Magris in Danubio (1986; Danube , 1989). For both Leigh Fermor, who saw it in the 1930s, and Magris, who visited the city in the 1980s, Bratislava serves as a border between the familiar West and the exotic East, and as a site of nostalgia for what Magris describes as “a multiple and supranational culture [koiné]”. When seen in relation to the debate over Central European identity in the 1980s, both narratives look to the Slovak capital’s multilingual past as a sign of its “margin centric” history, but Leigh Fermor’s trilogy has largely been overlooked by theorists of Danubian culture, while Magris has been accused of complicity with the forces of oppression (from Habsburg to Communist) described in his work.
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