(Novel of Donaldas Kajokas “Kazašas”)

Mindaugas Grigaitis
www.kamane.lt, 2007 07 09


Donaldas Kajokas. Photo by V. Braziūnas.


In brief: Even though theoreticians of post-modernism assure that preconceived presumptions are usually harmful to the quality of interpretation, it is often hard to resist one’s expectations, the author writes. It is extremely hard to resist preconceived attitudes when confronting the texts of the “great authors” of the Lithuanian Writers’ Union. Taking a new book issued by the Publishing House of this Union into hands, a thought occurs inevitably – what has determined its publishing – the status, friendship or artistic quality? The shadow of the Union’s relations and connections falls on the newest book of Donaldas Kajokas – the first novel “Kazašas” - as well.


First, the reader is met by “elite” attitude towards an artist and literature in “Kazašas”. It is no secret that the raising of essential questions of existence, purified language and humanist insights put a sign of good taste and value on a writer in the eyes of the intellectual society. This style is usually encouraged by the Lithuanian Writers’ Union. The novel “Kazašas” may not be attributed categorically to this sect of monotonic LWU printed works. Still, it may hardly become a candidate to receive laurels of an exceptional literature phenomena. The book is exceptional among D. Kajokas works. Still, it confirms the general belief of literature elite that literature is a higher occupation raising an artist above the society.


The novel has a multiple plot – two stories are joint by the principle of co-centric circles. The outer circle is the story of a prostitute Marija Magdalietė about her friend of youth Izidorius Šalvas (they both grew up in a boarding school). The flow of conscience of Izidorius, artist balancing on the verge of insanity, makes the inner circle. The artist imagines that he lives parted from the world under a glass cover. His aim is to finish a painting in which a yellowish blossom of berberis is pictured. The blossom is the symbol of the highest spiritual happiness and peace of universe. The search for oneself as an artist makes the essence of Izidorius story. Izidorius is hindered by a strange creature Kazašas. It is a killer – God, Satan, genius, Jesus Christ, lewd desire, homosexual visions and creature of many other shapes. At the end of the novel this creature appears as a question of every person “Who am I?”


Neither the plot nor the division of the story into different levels appears very complicated or new. The novel may interest by original intertextual relations, perhaps. The internal world of Izidorius is opened up using intertextual relations with painters, philosophers and writers of various periods. The situation of an artist reminds of motives of “Prairie Wolf”, “Game with Glass Beads” and “Sidharta“ by Hermann Hesse. There are also parallels in the relation of a creator and a woman and the careful analysis of missing sex of an artist. Izidorius is fostered and consoled only by Marija Magdalietė, the symbol of female warmth providing human harmony. Still, the hero of the novel is also attracted to men.


In general, there are many paraphrases of literature ideas in the novel – there are paraphrases of William Shakespeare, works of William Blake are discussed, thoughts of Seneca and Dzen Buddhist philosophers are used. Still, what does the rewriting of famous texts show? Are these the creative searches of the writer or is it simple epigonism in order to put one’s name among the great writers?


Bulgakov-like mysticism, Hesse-like analysis of sub-conscience, mix of a dream and reality, Dostoyevski-like analysis of human passions – perhaps this collage of literature experiences may charm a reader who loves to check one’s erudition; however, it may seem like an abstract bookish fiction for other people searching for reflections of our present times. If somebody cherishes a secret hope that at least one of our so-called great writers has finally discovered the manner of speaking that corresponds with our time and reality, he/she will most probably become frustrated.

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