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This essay analyzes the novel Danube by the Italian writer and scholar Claudio Magris and focuses on its depiction of the political potential inscribed in the Danubian territory. With his journey along the river, the narrator of the novel attempts to unveil the materiality of this territory and the agency of the river, thus deconstructing cultural and political claims aimed at their appropriation. First, the essay investigates the use and representation of 'sources' made by the narrator, both as origin of the river and cultural artifacts. It is shown how the narrator performatively traces the origin of the river back to its plural and dislocated character and, borrowing from Giorgio Agamben’s work, ‘profanes’ sources. Also, this nihilating action opens the Danubian territory to a redemptive reconfiguration of its past into the future. In the end, the essay states that a political redemption cannot be represented by water because of this element's linearity and permanent mobility. Therefore, the recurring image of mud is offered as an alternative to portray the (eco)systemic and political potential both investigated and performatively created in Danube itself.
Mazzotti, Nicola, "From Nihilation to Redemption: Profanations and Overlaps in Claudio Magris’ Danube" (2023). Comparative Literature M.A. Essays. 14.
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