The Life Lines
Year of publication: 1993
Word count: 39.950
Award: ”Miloš Crnjanski“
Copyright belongs to the author
ife Lines are based on a seemingly simple structure: five stories by an author, Mihailo R, are combined with five of his letters to a friend, Miladin in London, clearly showing that the artist is undergoing a crisis and suicide is the only thing he is still considering. The culprit for Mihailo R.’s literary crisis is actually life. Life is the one persuading the writer that reality can be more incredible and opulent than literature itself. Mihailo R, namely, has discovered the whereabouts of a Jew, Konstantin Klein, brother of his schoolmate. He learned that as early as in the beginning of the XX century, the poor K. K. joined the sect of “Differentiates” that taught their members the arts of living in two different lives. Mihailo R. encountered Konstantin’s case by accident and soon he found out that upon his return to Serbia, he passed himself off as Milan Stojadinović, the pro-fascist prime minister in the Government of Prince Pavle Karađorđević, but also as Stanislav Vinaver, Belgrade’s renowned writer and translator. So, he ceased to be Konstantin Klajn, and became someone else, actually some other people. These two well-known persons, finds out the writer Mihailo R, wouldn’t exist if Konstantin had not invented them, inspired them with life and then vanished from the lives of his closest kins.
This discovery made Mihailo R. plunge into a crisis, which is why he eventually decided to take away his own life. His unfinished manuscripts were found by his wife, who learned that the life her husband had discovered was indeed confusing, but his literature, by the same token, was not bad at all. She found effective sequences for many short stories and realized that her husband had killed himself in vain. When he was gone, she could not see the reason his literature should exist and in the end threw all his manuscripts into a blaze.