Emilie's Reviews > Baba Yaga Laid an Egg

Baba Yaga Laid an Egg by Dubravka Ugrešić
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's review
Jun 25, 2012

really liked it
bookshelves: 2012, fiction, mythopoetic, stealing-into-language
Read from June 19 to 23, 2012

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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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message 1: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Looking forward to your review -- the Canongate Myths series always sounds so interesting but I generally don't like them.

Emilie what is it that you are not liking about them? (i don't think i've read any of them before this one, though a lot of the authors in the series are authors i like.)

message 3: by Miriam (new)

Miriam I'm not sure because I don't think I got very far in any of them. I think I felt like they were trying to hard to be mod and gritty and ugly and not much like the source material. Like, is there one with Odysseus and Penelope where they are teenage druggie delinquints and talk really dirty?

Emilie is that atwood's penelopiad? i haven't read it, but i know it's part of the canongate series. i think, now, that this series goes and asks authors to write the novels and that's part of the trouble. i had thought they were more gathering novels that they liked that were retellings. it sounds like they are trying too hard to prove contemporary relevance of mythology.

message 5: by Miriam (new)

Miriam Yeah, I think that's it. It looks like you liked this one, though?

Emilie i really liked some of the things she is saying, though i didn't love the style. i don't think it was a joy to read, but it's made me think a lot. it's been something like sandpaper, where it's not smooth, but it caught at me.

it's written in three parts (first a semi-autobiographical piece about her relationship with her aging mother, second an account of three older women and the third is a more academic account of the baba yaga in mythos) and cannongate got three different translators and tried to make them sound as different as possible, and i don't think that was a good decision.

she strays far from the source material in terms of meaning, though close in terms of symbolic elements. it's kind of interesting, that she studies all these different versions of slavic tales of baba yaga,and she wants to say that she thinks that they are kind of wrong or intentionally misleading about the baba (translates to old woman or witch), that they are reinforcing a certain kind of idea about women, particularly old women, and that she wants to rewrite that story. she takes the clothes of the story and shows what she thinks is really underneath that we are not seeing or that is being hidden from us in the traditional tales.

i think that's an interesting way to do a retelling, and it's honest about what it's doing, it's not a simple attempt to update through a contemporary setting or through grittiness (Which is what the atwood sounds like) [though it is a contemporary setting, and it could be argued that it's gritty, too] it's a deep attempt to look at the meaning of the story and i really respect that.

that said, i didn't like certain aspects of it, that are the more self-referencing clever kinds of things. the third part, though very interesting, is both a mini dissertation of baba yaga in slavic countries and an analysis of the first two parts and their relationship to baba yaga myth...i don't really like things like that, i don't like being winked at.

knowing her history is affecting my reading, too. ugresic was accused herself of being a witch and was exiled from her country.

i'm curious what you'd think of it. i think you'd find the last section interesting, but i'm not sure you'd like the book as a whole.

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