Viennese Hallways in Darko Markov's Bleak Vision
This paper analyzes the novel Twilight in the Viennese Hallway 2 (Old Boska) (2013) by Darko Markov, a migrant-writer from Vienna. The novel describes the way of life and culturological characteristics of Serbian immigrants in Austria through two generations – the gastarbeiter as the older immigrant stratum of migrant workers in the 1970s and 1980s, and the younger, well-educated people who immigrated in the 1990s, fleeing the wars in the former Yugoslavia and the dire economic situation in
... ic situation in Serbia due to inflation and international sanctions. Through the seemingly simple storyline about the marital and romantic problems of the protagonist – a young intellectual from Belgrade who arrived in Vienna in the 1990s, the author constructs a dense narrative network of the main character's various experiences, describing the difficulties of adjusting and coping in a foreign country. The protagonist simultaneously comes up against two worlds with different value systems – on the one hand, that of the gastarbeiter, his compatriots, whose way of life, attitudes and behaviors he often finds strange and unacceptable, sometimes even irrational, and on the other hand, the prejudices, intolerance and lack of understanding exhibited by Austrians not only towards him but also towards other immigrants. His path crossing that of various other characters, the protagonist himself undergoes changes in his search for meaning and for his place in a foreign land. In his description of characters and their actions Darko Markov uses the literary technique of realism, relying to a great extent, by his own admission, on real-life persons and events. His mimetic narrative technique can thus be characterized as faction – a blend of fiction and facts, enriched with numerous ethnographic descriptions of the traits, behavior, appearance, speech and value system of the gastarbeiter and other migrants in the Austrian capital. In that sense Markov's novel belongs to the genre of ethnographic prose as it abounds in anthropologically and ethnologically relevant themes and motifs. In a wider sense, the novel belongs to migrant literature defined in terms of the theme, characters and content relating to the life of migrants, and, secondly, the author who is himself an immigrant. The paper first provides a literary-ethographic analysis through the structural elements of its composition – the plot, the characters (attributes, actions and motivation), the narrative time frame and the space that Serbian immigrants in Vienna inhabit and move around in. It then proceeds to analyze through anthropological interpretation some of the novel' motifs and themes, specifically, the problems of ethnic prejudice, integration into the host society, the marginal position of immigrants through two types of marginalization – exterior marginalization in the form of their socio-economic status, and interior marginalization through exoticization and stigmatization, and also the question of language as an important ethnic and cultural marker.