A BATHROOM ('HYGIENIC LOVE' IN THE WORK OF TATARKA)
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The author explores a motive of bathroom in the prosaic work of a Slovak writer Dominik Tatarka (1913-1989). This motive occurs for the first time in his novel 'Farská republika' (Parochial Republic, 1948) in relation to so called 'hygienic love': a protagonist of the novel, Tomás Menkin, realized a 'hygienic' sexual relationship with a married woman Achinka - their first sexual intercourse was in the bathroom. The term 'hygienic' here means without emotional involvement and it is also an expression of ethic anaesthesia of a narrator in the political context of the war regime of the Slovak Republic, he does not agree with. The passage from Tatarkas reminiscences 'Navrávacky' (1987) retrospectively reveals another semantic connection of the motive of bathroom: it represents a 'strange' city world of wealthy social circles contrary to 'our' world of poverty and nature. Nature is also a setting of a 'true' love: erotic sceneries of the narrator's love in the scenery of nature, he and Ula made a positive opposite pole of the 'scenes in the bathroom' with Achinka. Negative attributes of bathroom after the Communist upheaval in 1948, strengthen its 'class' characteristics as an attribute of bourgeois and it interiorly outlasts in several titles of Slovak authors. In the works of Tatarka the bathroom is not a strange, antagonistic space anymore. This new characteristics starts with a novelette 'To Stay with You for a While Yet' from a book 'Never-Ending Discussions' 1959, where an autobiographic narrator ritually baths his mother in the city bathroom. She is a simple village woman and she came to see him just before she dies. Through this intimate and emotionally deep experience the bathroom becomes positively owned space - a space of ours. This spectacle is also to consider for an experiential starting point of the author's construction of an archaically -mythic conception of 'culture as commune life', with an idol of mother in the centre. Eternism, seeking of mythically 'eternal' patterns of everyday rituals and gestures, is also a dominant tendency of the last phase of Tatarka's artistic work and his ideological respond to socially-political reality (previous phases were made by nihilistic reaction in the 40th and civic activism in the 50th and 60th ). Sexual intercourse belongs to the very elementary acts, with a seal of 'eternity' - this is why so many erotic scenes occur in his samizdat trilogy 'Writings'. Two nearly identical spectacles from 'Writings for Beloved Lutécia', 1984 point out the fact that Tatarka's 'domestification' of the bathroom was not definite: the first version was done in the bathroom, but the second one in the open nature - and only there this act become like sealed by 'eternity'. If Tatarka as a creator of voluntarily ideological systems was able to include the bathroom into 'our' world, the area of art, where instead of a doctrine author spontaneously allows his symbolism to speak and he reveals us that his perception of world and a person is more natural than cultural.
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