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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 01 | volume I | March, 1998



                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 01March, 1998

Analysis of a Catalysis

(Or: analysis of 15 "unimportant" pages from an important novel)

p. 1
Jasna Koteska

1. Introduction

    The following text is an attempt to clear up the usage of the notorious formula from the literary theory “unity of subject matter and form”. We'll try to do that by analyzing the behavior of catalysis. (The term catalysis is taken from the renowned article by Roland Barthes: “Introduction in the structural analysis of narrating”[1]).
    In order to avoid the oddly enough resistant human characteristic —extensive explaining, we'll confine our interest to a short excerpt of 15 pages of a novel by the Croatian writer Janko Leskovar (1861-1944). The short novel that we are to deal with has 105 pages, and is titled “Fallen Castles” (first published 1896), and our task are the 15 pages, from 47 to 62. [2]
    We've chosen 15 pages that in the whole of the novel seem completely unimportant, even redundant: it is exactly that part of the book that an average reader skips; we can illustrate that visually by absent gaze at the margins of the book. The reader's attention at these 15 pages weakens, after the reader notices that nothing important happens there.
    The hero, Pavle, meets several people unimportant from the aspect of the story and he starts conversations that don't lead to anything important for the plot; he finds himself in series of unnecessary situations; the reader comes across a line of images from his neighborhood. According to Jacobson, this denseness of narration is the first sign that we're reading a work from the realistic genre. (This is a novel from the “psychological realism”).
    Our question is if each of these meetings (predications) that the hero has according to their order and format, i.e. formally, are meaningful in respect to the subject matter of the novel. Does it make any difference that Pavle meets the locksmith first and then his uncle or are these events just accidentally one next to another? Our elaboration will show that every single event in the novel according to their order and intensity have their own concrete function in the book. In other words, this text will prove that event order (even the most superfluous at first sight) produces certain features with the hero by means of elements of the discursive texture – signifiers, and the hero who is bearer of a certain idea – signified. The question is: how does the text produce certain characteristics with the hero?


1. From: “Theory of prose” selection of texts, translation and introduction by Atanas Vangelov, Detska radost, Skopje, 1996. Roland Barthes “Introduction a l'analyse structurale des récits”
2. According to the following publication: Janko Leskovar: “Fallen Castles”, “Matica Hrvatska” Zora-Zagreb, 1963, edition – “Five Centuries of Croatian Literature” (book no. 59).

"Blesok" editions 01-93 are also available at CEEOL web site.

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