The Love Letters That Spoke of Everything but Love
“Zu” is the literary experiment that resulted. The characters between Toilet and Shlokowski, reprinted in “Zoo” with some short fictionality, avoid addressing love directly. Instead, they are engrossed in subjects as far-flung as Tahiti, wet nurses, “Don Quixote,” internal combustion engines, and Russian avant-garde. These “not letters about love”, perhaps precisely because they are not about love, achieve an unmistakable intimacy and to do so, our perceptions of what it means to express affection through language Increase. Through its toxic register, “Zoo” makes the case that our ultimate desire in love is not to share our romantic feelings, but our sense of the world, our impressions of life – from the mundane to the poetic – to any other Is with the person.
Elsa’s prohibition proved to be a creative boon, both for her (the editors best loved Trilette’s letters and encouraged her to publish a novel) and for Shlokowski. “You gave me two assignments. 1.) Not to call you 2.) Not to see you, ”she wrote to him. “So now I’m a busy man.”
One of the most prolific literary theorists of his era, Shlokowski used Elsa’s ban as an opportunity to think through and uncover some of his ideas about art. His famous theory of “estrangeant” – the act of representing ordinary events in strange, unpredictable ways to shock the reader into recognition – finds fresh expression here: art “has to be changed, ‘estranged,” “that from him.” Urges. He also voiced his frustrations with censorship in his home country, telling Elsa / Alya about a Russian publisher in Berlin, whose books were constantly blocked from entering Russia: “Writing about love Prohibited, so I will write about the publisher Zinowal Grazebin. It should be sufficiently remote. ”However, Shklovsky cannot help comparing his romantic fate to Grazzebin’s literary one – each one a” rejected suicide “.
Sometimes, however, Shlokowski falls short and breaks the rules, sometimes only in spirit – saying to Ilya, “You have changed my life just as the worm screw replaces a rack.” At other times, he himself pronounces the word forbidden. When the flood hits Berlin, he writes a letter containing a dialogue between the waters in which he imagines running into Ilya’s bedroom and his bed slippers:
“Sandal: O, water, you have been swept away in the wrong mill.” that’s not nice. In matters of love, that cannot be right.
“Water: not even a powerful love?
“Slippers: No, not even a powerful love.”
Elsa / Alya chases him for a clear violation of his code, telling him, “You certainly don’t know how to write a love letter.” She tells him, “How, how, leave me writing about how much you love me, because the third ‘how much,’ I start thinking about something else.”