BETWEEN DALMATIA AND BOSNIA – INTERCULTURAL ASPECTS OF THE CONSTRUCTION OF IDENTITY OF FEMALE CHARACTERS THROUGH MOTHERHOOD IN VERKA ŠKURLA-ILIJIĆ’S WORKS

Author:
Kornelija Kuvač-Levačić
Email:
klevac@unizd.hr
Summary
Verka Škurla-Ilijić (1891 – 1971) was a Croatian writer from the period of Modernism. From the vantage point of biography and culture, her life was marked by two geographic locations – the Dalmatian islands (she was born in Dol on the island of Hvar and, until 1899, lived on the Pelješac peninsula) and Bosnia (from 1899 until the First World War she lived in Bosnia, and was educated in Mostar and Sarajevo which was also where her first short story Han was published and included in the volume of Bosnian writing Sa strana zamagljenih in 1928). Her female characters are constructed within the determinants of identity which is, in turn, determined by a certain cultural fabric. Elements of the theme of gender are closely connected to this as is evident in her work. Since the theme of motherhood is the element most strongly marked by the influence of the patterns of society and culture, the works of Verka Škurla-Ilijić, which present this image of motherhood within a patriarchal society (regardless of whether it is the Eastern Orthodox, Islamic or Catholic context), will be at the centre of this investigation. It is interesting to note that in her works the geographical location is never stated outright, but can be read out of certain inter-cultural determinants (context, language and style) which come to the fore in the narrative and uncover how Verka Škurla-Ilijić shapes her aesthetic world. At times the reader is given no clues which would enable him/her to determine with certainty whether the action is taking place in Bosnia, the Dalmatian hinterland or somewhere in the area along the border between Dalmatia and Bosnia where the influence of all three aforementioned cultural contexts can be felt. This investigation will show that the theme of gender does not only serve the purpose of characterization, but is also the foundation of her entire narrative which is mimetically related to Dalmatia and Bosnia in the first half of the 20th Century. What is produced here is an intercultural context within which the identity of her protagonists is created: investigating this will inform a new basis for reading the works of this Croatian female writer who has been unfairly consigned to oblivion.
Key words
inter-cultural context; female protagonists; motherhood; identity; Verka Škurla-Ilijić
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