The Future of Nostalgia

The Future of Nostalgia

Svetlana Boym

Language: English

Pages: 432

ISBN: 0465007082

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


Combining personal memoir, philosophical essay, and historical analysis, Svetlana Boym explores the spaces of collective nostalgia that connect national biography and personal self-fashioning in the twenty-first century. She guides us through the ruins and construction sites of post-communist cities-St. Petersburg, Moscow, Berlin, and Prague-and the imagined homelands of exiles-Benjamin, Nabokov, Mandelstahm, and Brodsky. From Jurassic Park to the Totalitarian Sculpture Garden, Boym unravels the threads of this global epidemic of longing and its antidotes.

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photograph may have been taken after this final act of destruction. As director of the synagogue Hermann Simon observes, the reasons for this destruction are not known for sure and no official documents explaining this decision have been found. A disturbing document in the new museum in the synagogue is on display, signed by a few board members of the East German Jewish Community (of 150 people!), that states the New Synagogue had to be demolished because of “great danger of collapse in the

“East” and “West” at all, but between humanism and autocracy. This, of course, is an artful personal plea for the removal of the writer’s fatwa.Yet it is also a story of ambivalent identification with the dream of Europa. To the writer’s regret, the new united Europe is more preoccupied with the price of feta cheese than with human rights. Rushdie demands “the right to make moral, intellectual and artistic judgments without worrying about Judgment Day.”11 The eccentric Europeans often make their

she said. “I speak no English.” On one of my first visits to Prague, when I was not very aware of local culture, I made a plan to meet a Prague friend in Café Milena. He was an aging sixty-eighter, a vanishing tribe. I waited for him for a while, devouring palachinki and examining Kafka’s handwriting. The Astrological Clock struck the hour and the figures of Death, Greed and Vanity appeared to greet the tourists. The sighs of admiration were drowned in a John Lennon song played by Czech and

higher beauty. Kabakov’s museums and homes have sacred and profane spaces: old-fashioned toilets and utopian projects for the future, floors covered with trash and leaking high ceilings, cluttered rooms and scattered archives. Only one is never sure whose homes they are. The visitor here feels at once the only host of this abandoned home and an uninvited guest who came to the wrong place at the wrong time. Going to Kabakov’s exhibits is akin to trespassing into a foreign world that feels like

Magazine, 11 June 2000, 30–36. 3. The name of the artist is Natalie Jeremijenko, NewYork Times Magazine, 11 June 2000, 25. 4. Interview with Jeoffrey Nunberg on National Public Radio, “All Things Considered,” 13 November 1998. 5. Giorgio Caproni, Poesie 1932–1986 (Milano, 1989), 392.Translated by Toma Tasovac and Svetlana Boym. 6. Linda Hutcheon, “Irony, Nostalgia and the Post-modern,” paper presented at the Modern Language Association conference, San Francisco, December 1997. 7. Ibid., 9.

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