Reading the Body: Corporeal Imagery, Language, and Identity in Ivan Blatný’s Pomocná škola Bixley.

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Slovo a smysl / Word & Sense


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The present study examines the manner in which Ivan Blatný approaches three interrelated themes — identity, language, and the human body — throughout Pomocná škola Bixley, his last verse collection. I argue that as Blatný grappled with the decline of his mental and physical strength, these themes merged in his writing. Through a series of critical readings I demonstrate the way Blatný treats poetic ability and fractured identity in terms of mastery over broken language and body. The poet splits his lyrical “I” in numerous ways, making his poems more self-aware and self-deprecating than before. There is also a tension between the joy that language brings him and his being powerless to comprehend it. The use of body imagery (arteries, bones, etc.) repeatedly accentuates this correlation, intermingling as it does with reflections on the perplexing nature of writing. By equating the failure to comprehend the human body with the incapacity to explain his own language, Blatný transforms these twin issues into a struggle to understand the person(s) he has become. This expanded thematic unity provides an approach which allows us to understand Pomocná škola Bixley as a cohesive collection, complete with an interconnected system of metaphors and imagery, rather than the disorganized mass it may appear to be at first reading.

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