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ISSN 1409-6900 | UDK 82+7     Blesok no. 46 | volume IX | January-February, 2006



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                     Peer-reviewed journal
Blesok no. 46January-February, 2006
Reviews

Dimensions of Pain

The autobiographical and psychological elements in Elfriede Jelinek’s Piano Teacher (Published in Macedonian by Slovo Publishing)


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Elena Koneska

I am not sure if the name of the Austrian writer, now a Nobel Prize winner, Elfriede Jelinek, strikes a familiar chord to the Macedonian public. However, the very fact that, to a general surprise, she was awarded the Nobel Prize for literature for 2004 is a sufficient incentive to make efforts to acquaint the Macedonian readers with her work.
    On a couple of occasions, while reading the reviews to the novel, I realized that the phrase: “autobiographical novel” appears almost like an apposition of the title. At first I understood it as a simple commercial trick used to win over the readers and increase the sale rates of the edition. However, the question remained: Is really the autobiographical component that brought Jelinek’s novel at the top, allowed it to cross the boundaries of the German-language literature and made Jelinek a world-wide known author?
    Erika Kouht, a 38 years old piano teacher, lives in her parent’s house together with her mother. Those familiar with Jelinek`s biography know than she is also an academic musician coming from the Vienna school and after graduation 1964 until 1968 also lived in her parents’ house, suffering from a terrible emotional and psychological crisis. The causes underlying such crisis, especially after the death of her father, unknown in her biography, allow for numerous links and analogies between Jelinek and Erika Kouht.
    The comparison between them can start at the very basic level, with the beginning letters of their names, continue to a more substantial level, with the music as a professional determination, but perhaps the richest autobiographical connection are the family relations and the dominant position of the mother. In both families the father is missing, thence the mother–daughter relations go over the acceptable border of closeness, passing in the sphere of privacy.
    Thus, throughout the novel there are instances of identification and overlapping of the experiences of author’s “I “and the fictive “I” construction of the main character. Hence, Jelinek strengthens the power of self–cognition, embodying and experiencing it through the character of Erika. Although the separately existing and functioning, the two “I”, the author’s and that of the main character, frequently come to be equalized and to operate one through the other.
    Erika is under permanent dependence of her mother, starting from the early period of her psychophysical development and continuing throughout adolescence into maturity age. Such continuous dependence prevents her from developing into a mature adult






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