Sheleva E. Exile and Nostalgia in Svetlana Boym’s Essay
When it comes to Slavic literatures, the phenomenon of exile and emigration, including domestic emigration, appears to be a never-changing paradigm and predictable subject of research. Having deep historical and cultural roots, this phenomenon has clearly been a subject of contrastive literary research which seeks to explore communications and processes of cross-cultural interference.
The 20th century kicked off with utopia and ended in nostalgia. This is how the late internationally acclaimed Svetlana Boym (1956–2015), researcher of Slavic literatures, described the paradoxical path of the 20th century. Pointing out the unison between nostalgia and exile, Boym distinguishes between two kinds of nostalgia, restorative and reflexive. We argue that this constant of a special mental state can be added to the temporal aspect which makes the relationship between exile and nostalgia interactive. It is the temporal axis that links nostalgia with the past (or bygones) and ties utopia with the future. Ironically, in the recent past these things looked differently. As Katarina Luketic said, ‘In the time of ideological singular our utopias were manifested as plural.’ Hence, the popular cult of nostalgia was desirable as it was safe for the existing order. It conveyed obedience, irreversibility, loss, pain, and disability. ‘The more frightening gets the world, the more abstract grows art’, said Kandinsky.