In the Shadow of Mnemosyne: The Poetics of Debt in Fiction and Testimony


  • Kujtim Rrahmani Instituti Albanologjik, Prishtinë, Kosova



memory, debt, poetics, testimony, fiction, culture


Th is essay aims to thematize the poetic and cultural-historical image of debt, embodied as memorial discourse in both fi ctional and nonfi ctional literature. Th e poetics of debt are forged within the melting pot of mythic and historical images, political and cultural aspects, and poetic and testimonial temporalities – but always sheltered in the shadow of Mnemosyne. Th us, memory remains a permanent umbrella for the diff erent faces of debt. Debt is interrogated within the arc of authors Danilo Kiš and Zef Pllumi, two leading literary and cultural personalities in 20th-century south-eastern Europe. Th eir views provide a geopoetic and cultural background for a theoretical discussion of literary and cultural facets of debt. It is argued that because debt entails memory, obligation, and care for others, it is a distinguishing mark of the human psyche. Th e theorizing prelude will be followed by literary and confessional pieces of authors but, in the end, a theorizing observation on the subject will take place.


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