There are various bridges. Made of stone, or wood, white, glistening… Each one resembles its builder. Some are strong, and some are as tender as a bud. Their task is to connect coasts.
But there are also bridges made of dreams, woven words, good intentions. They lead to the heights, distances, essences, among the stars.They acquaint the unknown and the known, connect the unconnected, match the matchless. There, the end and the endless meet.
And so the words pour from you, from your head, from the cosmos… who knows… A torrent bursts forth and builds, and weaves, until it has spun a yarn, like only fairies know how to do. The yarn, which can only fit between book covers. Fit between book covers, and remain there. Whoever opens it, resurrects the images… they fly out of it, real, familiar and imagined, and you think to yourself that you have lived that story, that youhave spun that yarn yourself and walked on the bridge made of dreams.
And so you start to believe in the yarn, dreams… yourself.
I just wonder, what did I do to deserve the honor to spin this yarn, weave it with a pitchfork, create this bridge and place it between book covers. I leave it for the travelers, dreamers and priers, who will take a look inside the book and bring the images back to life. From this moment till forever.
This is a fairytale about a “big dream”. Many have dreamt it, and only some have realized it. This is a fairytale, which you can also live and go through, because you are exactly the one who can dream so well, whose dreams can be felt. It is worth a shot at being the main character. If you succeed, then this is your fairytale, too. If you’re not the main character of this dream, dream a different one, because your dream is the only one that you can feel.
Every realized one is important. The rest are not insignificant either, because they provide hope and will. So, dream, imagine, and believe.
Perhaps, a face or an area from this fairytale looks familiar to you. Who knows, perhaps you only imagined it, and perhaps it all happened that way. Perhaps.
Promotion of the book
at the Belgrade
Book Fair 2019
Promotion of the book
at the Belgrade
Book Fair 2019
Golden strings of sincerity
in the novel Fairy’s Circle
written by Olivera Olja Jelkić
by PhD Danica V. Stoli
The novel Fairy’s Circle (2019) is intended to readers of younger generation, but not only to them. It can be read by the older ones also, i.e all who like interesting and remarkable life stories. This story was created by the author, Olivera Olja Jelkić, by her professional procedure and distinct style expression, placing it in two contrasting environments, in two completely contrasting realities and in three different time perspectives. Time pendulum swings between the homeland in Bosnia and America in order to return at the beginning again, so that the main character has a dream from his childhood about the bridge across the Drina River.
The writer Jelkić, the author of the rich opus, in an convincing and susceptible way develops a story about imaginative, reasonable and in a certain way unusual boy, grown in the village beside the Drina River, describing his growing, first of all on a spiritual, character and pshychological plan.
By writing a sensitive story, wise, unusually sincere and open for life maturation, Jelkić revealed to young contemporary reader worlds in which childhood and life of a boy function due to completely different rules, we would say – more imaginative, diverse and improved in a spiritual way.
The novel, especially its first part, is made with very strong premises of the emotional and lyric, which with golden string of sincerity intervene the whole text. According to that, without any pretentions, it can be compared to sensitive and warm expression, which is present in prose of JasunariKavabata. Also, when we mention Japanese author, it should be mentioned that in this novel written by Jelkić there is impressive symbolism, created by simple style moves, which easily and without any specific strains can be “decoded”, so they are understandable to young readers also.
Then, beginning scenes, which only at first sight look simple, hide deep messages about crucial life questions and values. Symbolism is well-loaded and unobtrusive, but it conquers slowly and safely, so it can in a didactic, indirect and subtle way affect young readers. In that way, recipient can conclude that the Drina River is rich with fish, that there is enough for everyone, it’s just that many cannot see it. Everyone will get its fish when it is time for that, under condition that one shall put some effort for it. It also depends from how persistent one is. Everyone has their own luck, it should just be recognised and stand up for. Moody Drina, which constantly flows symbolises life and its stringent flow and unpredictable situations, and fish with silver gills, which glitter in clear water, represent association for life happiness.
The novel starts with author’s credo, in which a great dream is considered, about truth that the dream was dreamed by many, and just some of them made it come true, as boy named Peter, the central character of this novel. He is a clever village child, smart and witty, who has a remote thinking and personal opinion about life, although still unclear and immature. The unusual old man, Starina, a miller and fiddler helps him. He supports and enriches boy’s understanding of life by his wisdom, deepening his curiosity, spreading his views and giving him strength of self-confidence.
Spending a lot of time beside the Drina River, catching fish by hands, the boy can be compared to Manolin, the young helper at the old fisherman Santiago. In this novel also, as well as in the novel of the great Hemingway, old age and young age make a great combination, firm connection, “symbiosis”, which is similar to the natural one. Wisdom of the old age and vitality of the young age are qualitative and intervening combination, which should be respected and bred always, in all life circumstances and situations, either favourable or unfavourable. Those images from childhood of boy named Peter are represented in the novel Fairy’s Circle in a convincing and picturesque way.
Boy named Peter can hear what nobody else can, so it seems that he is given and allowed to reach stars and highest altitudes. Belief in predestination, in destiny directions, in fate, are a reflection of fatal philosophy of east cultures and nations, which are firmly tied to Balkan mentality and character personalities. Peter rises up from usual circumstances and norms by the strength of his imagination.
Meditation, realised in this prose part, are expressed in a sententious way. In the novel’s credo we encounter thoughts about dreams, their fairy tale, but also about possibility of their realisation:
“It should try and be the main character. If you succeed, then this is your fairy tale. And if you are not the main character of this dream, then have another dream, because yours is only the one which you can touch.”
“Storm comes and passes. And you think it never will. You just prowl into the log of an old tree, huddle, hide and it passes. There is no storm, which lasts forever. It wasn’t made like that. Do you understand? Sun also has its order, but so do storms. As well as day and night.”
“River can connect, but it can also separate, and it is always the same. Actually, it does not depend on river, it’s up to people.”
“Foreign country is where a man cannot manage. Foreign country is fear.”
Abundance of meditative prose parts alter with dialogues, mostly made of short sentences, elliptic, which are characterised by plasticity of expression, vividness, drama adjustment, so they remind of synopsis for a film or drama series. They are convincing, since they reflect life situations, so they usually look like colloquial dialogue, taken from indirect reality. Here we abstract very nice, poetic and intimate dialogue between a boy and Starina:
– I have such a horse also. – Peter said to Starina. Mine is white.
– Do you ride it? – Starina asked.
– I ride, I ride. – he responded with completely convinced tone.
– So why didn’t you come on horse? – Starina asked.
– How can I lie to you, I ride it when I close my eyes. Jaran is a wild horse. Nobody tamed it, except me.
Heading syntagm of the novel Fairy’s Circle was made based on popular belief about fairies, who conceive curious passengers and visitors by their rich voices, dance and their stunning appearance, they attract them to their cheerful circle. The one who cannot dance or loses pace, will fail! This myth belief in various variants is present in almost all cultures of all nations. Fairies can also be river, as in case of Andrić, who shares popular beliefs from Bosnia, in which it is said that those are ship fairies, who destroy bridges during night, i.e. everything that builders make during the day.
For that reason it is searched for a brother and sister, twins, Stoja and Ostoja, so that their bodies should be built inside the great construction, as the young Gojko’s wife was built in, the mother of the newly born child, in the popular ballad “Building of Skadar on Bojana”. For building all great constructions it is necessary to give a great sacrifice, as for each great act. It will be greater if builder’s act is greater. Chinese legend says that before starting with construction of the great wall, they required the body of heir prince, who ran away when he found out about that, masked as tramp and beggar. Perspective of construction in the novel of OliveraJelkić is something of different nature, considering strong faith of the one who is decisive to give something, which is the most useful to themselves to their homeland and people:
“Neither fairies could degrade what was made during the day. Neither suspicious ones couldn’t doubt that much, as he could confirm.”
Language of the novel is in some parts, especially in the first one, rich with authentic expressions, i.e. local speech of the environment from where the boy originates, in a village beside wavy Drina River. That certainly doesn’t obstruct their reception at contemporary readers, considering that meaning of those words and their other semantic and lexical value can be concluded based on context.
The novel is made of five thematic parts, which are combined in five equal parts. First part refers to childhood of the main character and its name is the same as the name of the novel “Fairy’s Circle”. The other part describes life achievements and sudden depletion in America, as a promised land and its name is “Great Dream”, third part “Bridge”, as a testimony about great and realised dream of the main character. The fourth part is about big nostalgic drive, and its name is such “Nostalgia” and the last one “Cloud”, fictive story about dream, which was made real and about realised part.
In America everyone can start from scratch, even Peter with his wife Tihana. Without money, with faith and dream about success, in a mysterious way realise something which is usually called realisation of a great dream. However, as they succeeded and reached wealth, it was melted due to machinations of some to whom that was the only way to get material income. When they were left broken, they spent the night on a bench in the Michigan park beside lake. People were slowly distancing from them and going to their homes. It was getting darker, and there was only sound of waves in the lake, singing of some bird, silence and darkness. Tihana was sleeping, with her head in his lap.
Image of two people, who over night lost all their earned wealth is impressive and also from the psychologic aspect very convincing and successfully realised. Emptiness in their souls yawns and threats to suck them in and completely break them. Ruin them! They cannot clearly describe to one another their feelings, whether it is despair, anxiety, emptiness, fear or some dullness and inability to believe in something like that.
While Tihana was sleeping, Peter had a hallucination once again, as once upon a time in his childhood beside the Drina River: “Starina was sitting very close to water, on a log. He put down his fiddle with engraved winged horse to the ground.”
Hero of the novel once again started his fictive dialogue with Starina, as his alter ego, which seems more to be a soliloquy, who again encouraged him and improved his imagination, returning his belief in life and ability to reach a dream about great success once again.
“Here, exactly on this place, where we wit now, from this log to that big oak over there, straight to the other coast, there will be a “road across water”. Even though there is a doubt, the bridge replaces ferry boat and ferryman, as it is in Andrić’s novel about the bridge on Drina, ferryman Jamak, almost deaf and half-blind, who was hard to be called, was replaced with bridge with eleven gorgeous arches.
“That became his dream, which he dreamed even when he was awake. He dreamed it in a way only he could dream and believed it would come true.
Sometimes it’s good when river is a border, and sometimes not. Sometimes bridge across the river means salvation and sometimes not.
It depends on people. It doesn’t depend on the bridge. Everything always depends on people.”
When the bridge was built, thin and beautiful, some understood it as a kind of provocation, as different intentions and acts of political nature only. Some found the ferry boat as enough, because it fulfilled current needs without permanent aims. The worst of all, his best friend from his early childhood opposed that construction. He told him that Peter will never be Mehmed-pašaSokolović, that cannot happen, no matter how beautiful his bridge is. Peter was hurt by that, by the words of his best friend. He wasn’t hurt by the words of the unknown and mean people.
– That is my childhood friend. My buddy, whose granny makes the best rhubarb. My Sejo, who called my grandpa as his grandpa.”
We conclude that horrible war years left consequences on people, on their relations, on mutual trust or to say it better on distrust and doubtfulness.
Chapter “Nostalgia” starts with thinking about home values and reveals where is man’s home:
“Man usually has one house. Many don’t have any. Only rare ones have several houses, but no matter how many of them there are, only one of them is a home. That’s where you settle, where your memories, collected through life, are and where you always tend to come back no matter where you go.”
This in a certain way reminds of similar experience, which was described by Peter Handke in his novel Slow return to home: “At the moment of that great loss I got the reflex of returning home, not only to some land, not to some certain area, but in my birth house…”
Nostalgia, which appears in America, which is awaken by a well-known sound of a fiddle, which only he can hear, which occurs in his dream, but also when he is awake. It forces him to come back to his homeland.
Meeting with the young boy Blagoje, who resembles his grandpa, former friend of Peter, shows how his love in his own people and soul is actually idealised. The young boy objected that he came late, that his grandpa lost his life in war while he was earning money in distant America and for that reason he should return by first plane to where he came from.
The only thing in homeland that reminds him of his former life, which he abandoned almost half a century ago is an old tree in front of his parents’ house. That description is very nice, shaped with style and it shows in the best way indirect and deep, indestructible relation between man and homeland, and his birth house and nature in general: “He hugged the tree and put his cheek close to it. That tree was called by the old ones “tree record”. It was preserved by vow. They would never cut it. It preserved house, home, family.”
Because of insisting to help his homeland in a material way, Peter was imprisoned, where he met people out of law, to whom his story wasn’t clear at all. Because they who take and hijack cannot understand the one who want to give, since like that he is very suspicious and with some evil intentions, so he arouses mistrust. However, justice is realised, and a guard enters prison cell and tells Peter that he isn’t guilty and he should come with him.
The last chapter of this novel written by Olivera Olja Jelkić is a metaphorical image about a man, who reached success in life and made his dream come true. Meeting with Starina, his singing and playing a fiddle, herd of horses, which run fast in the sky are symbols by which the authors wants to send a message to young readers that they should strive to their aim and be persistent and stable. Discouragement and withdrawal is for the weak ones, and not for those who as Peter persistently follow the call of their destiny and which is displayed in the character of Starina and it represents a connection with people’s wisdom and tradition. Defeat doesn’t mean withdrawal. On the contrary, life should be understood as a shift of rises and falls, which should be overcome persistently and without lapses.
“And so the clouds float in the sky. Sometimes easily and sometimes they harness white horses and rush, strut. They change shapes and colours.
When a man observes them from the ground, one would say they wander, but when you look at them from above, one would say they observe. Monitor.
It depends on a man, not cloud.”
Except Peter and Starina, in the novel there appear boy’s mother, friends from childhood, Nenad and wife Tihana. Characters of friends served the author to point out Peter’s particularity even more in the process of contrasting. Namely, they make a small group, in basic attributes characteristic and similar to all those groups in literature for children and the young, both in world and domestic literature. However, Peter’s friends don’t have higher meaning and ideals for their future, they don’t have hearing to perceive what their friend strives to.
Boy’s mother is shown as a typical mother from people, reasonable, straight and prudent, whose life meaning is care for her children and their survival.
Tihana is constantly beside her husband. They help each other, comfort, support, etc. Fictive character, Starina is a symbol of faith in survival and fight for life, which is characteristic in rough history of the whole Serbian people, as well as an individual from the same people.
By reading this novel, contemporary young reader will maybe have resistance towards description of slow time passing in the environment of untouched nature and beauty. While reading a novel, you get the feeling that verses of Greek poet Constantine Cavafy echo from its pages, and he suggest to his readers: “…not to hurry: hurry is dangerous”. And Jelkić, in her novel, suggests one different life, which is presented by adjusted style process, which in all means opposes contemporary world alienated from nature, ruled by the strength of the fast, but often shallow information, thoughts and emotions. Excitement, which main character of this novel experiences are of completely different nature in comparison to virtual excitements of present teenagers. Difference is obvious, in a way obligatory, but one should not exaggerate in anything, at least in natural development, which implies that a man shouldn’t distance too much from his gist and he should strive to the highest aims.