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Pavić, Milorad

Entry updated 19 December 2020. Tagged: Author.

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(1929-2009) Serbian translator, academic, poet and author, active from the 1960s; he remains most famous – and clearly of greatest sf interest – for his first full-length novel, Hazarski rečnik: Roman-leksikon u 100,000 reči (1984 2vols; trans Christina Pribićević-Zorić as Dictionary of the Khazars: A Lexicon Novel in 100,000 Words 1988 2vols), a text comprised of various narrative entries concerning the lost land of Khazar (see Lost World) presented in three nonlinear alphabetical sequences (see Oulipo; Postmodernism and SF), so that an achronological mosaic of this disappeared world (see Time Out of Sequence) is generated. The text as a whole is described as a "reconstruction of the original 1691 Daugmannus edition" (destroyed a year later), itself a translation of sorts of the original eighth-century dictionary, a text assembled by "dream hunters" attempting to reconstruct from Khazarian dreams a sacred book consanguinous with the shape of Adam Cadmon (see Jorge Luis Borges; Cosmology). [For Arabian Nightmare and Book, see The Encyclopedia of Fantasy under links below.] This array of texts is presented in two volumes identical except for one fifteen-line paragraph (female and male), each of which acts as a Meme that mutates its version: the female version representing an engulfment of the reader by the dream of the book; the male representing a phallic image of knowledge as graspable. That Dictionary of the Khazars is not sf is clear, but it is clearly an Equipoisal text perhaps closest to sf in the sense that an Alternate History that incorporates the existence of the land, and of its interactions with other lands, has been created. Of the various stories by fictional authors assembled as Pozorište od hartije ["Paper Theatre"] (coll of linked stories 2007), "'Tattoo', by Karlo Kekkonen" (in Exotic Gothic 3: Strange Visitations, anth 2009 Canada, ed Danel Olson) is sf.

Pavić's later novels are much further from sf, though their Oulipo-like structures generate at points a lubricated texture, as though Virtual Realities were being hinted at. Predeo slikan čajem (1988; trans Christina Pribićević-Zorić as Landscape Painted with Tea 1988) can be read in various directions as a crossword puzzle; and the two halves of Unutrašnja strana vetra ili roman o Kheri i Leandru (1991 dos; trans Christina Pribićević-Zorić as The Inner Side of the Wind; Or, the Novel of Hero and Leander 1993 dos) converge in a kind of Timeslip. A selection of Pavić's novels, but not his poetry or short story collections (which date between 1967 and 1999), appears below. [JC]

Milorad Pavić

born Belgrade, Serbia: 15 October 1929

died Belgrade, Serbia: 30 November 2009



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