Holland as a space of knowledge and cognitive receptivity: The image of the Netherlands in Olga Tokarczuk’s Flights from the perspective of looking
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Olga Tokarczuk’s writings are preoccupied with the entropy-ridden world. Tokarczuk renders this world in polyphonic images, and her protagonists seek to establish their identities by redefining their relation to it. In Flights, a prominent place on this world’s map is ascribed to Holland, whose image, when studied through the lens of imagology, turns out to be a space of knowledge and cognitive receptivity. Organised within the framework of selective attention, the representation of Holland is focused on perception of the narrator and of the protagonists, which conveys the attitude to the world identified with the text. Examination of the literary vision of the Netherlands and Dutch culture reveals Tokarczuk’s strategy of foregrounding selected enclosed spaces (interiors) which serve as the loci of knowledge (Verheyen’s study, De Waag and Ruysch’s home). Such a portrayal of Holland is underpinned by self-images exemplified in ideas developed by philosophers linked to this country (Descartes and Spinoza) and in art, with which the writer engages in dialogue. Explored in imagological terms, the representation of the Netherlands is a non-stereotypical vision constructed through references to an array of cultural expressions produced by the Dutch, in which the past co-generates a palimpsestic picture of the present.
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