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Abstract

In her article, "Testimonial Poetry in East European Post-Totalitarian Literature," Albena Lutzkanova-Vassileva reexamines the belief that postmodern literature and deconstructive writing have parted literary and theoretical discourse from reality, thereby obstructing and annihilating our access to history. Lutzkanova-Vassileva exemplifies her prognosis in an inquiry into post-totalitarian and postmodern Bulgarian literature and its texts of poetry. Born in the turmoil of communism's debacle, the analysis is an attempt to illustrate that, contrary to denying reference, postmodernism solely rejects the reduction of reference to a world that is perceptible and cognitively masterable. Rethinking what many have seen as a self-referential literature, with the break between language and reality -- its leading stylistic principle, Lutzkanova-Vassileva seeks to establish that in the very decomposition of artistic language, in the demise of its capacity to refer to phenomenal reality and endow it with meaning, the truth of another, so far suppressed reality emerges. This, she claims, is the reality of crisis and catastrophe, the reality of minds on the brink of disintegration, the reality of both historical and personal invalidation. Recording the stories of failing minds and chronicling breakdown after breakdown, the often incoherent, almost clinical discourse of the postmodern text in Bulgarian literature, Lutzkanova-Vassileva argues, provides powerful testimony to a climactic moment in contemporary history.

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