As a person who spends too much time in the past, as if an amateur archaeologist, not very successful in trying to assemble and assemble his "past" (is there a "past" plural?), This is a topic that has always excited me directly. Time Shelter, Georgi Gospodinov's new novel, appeared just after adding another year of your life to the past. As a small guide covering this phenomenon from micro past of the individual to macro past on a whole continent.


Time Shelter is a story of time, seen not as an infinite right, but as the different sections of that right, guarding what has already happened. These patches, patched up by pieces of time, make up history as we know it. But the story is too comprehensive, and the past is always personal: "History can afford to fuck 50-60 of its years, it has thousands, for her it's a second, but what to do this fly - the man for whom the same this historic second is his whole life. "


The personal past

"Everyone is haunted by their past," says the film "Beautiful Mind." It is always there, as an alternative to reality or as its foundations. Because what are we if not a product of our past? But what happens to those whose memory begins to cheat, who lose their past, and slowly, as if they are losing themselves piece by piece? They begin to pursue the past and seek refuge in it, in the deep-seated childhood memories or the years of youth, or simply somewhere backwards, where the gaze of oblivion has not yet reached.

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For them, the author and (?) Gaustin open a "clinic for the past" that goes back, recreating a certain period of time, somewhere back when you remember when you really were. Will this help to bear more easily a present to which "patients" no longer belong?


Man builds and preserves the idea of ​​himself by constantly searching and remembering his idea of ​​himself in the past. Who was I before '95? Was I happy then? Do I still remember the scent of the sea from the last time I sat on its shore? Could I really ride a bike without my hands? Did I sleep in the afternoons of my life? But we are never self-sufficient, people come into our lives, then sooner or later they become part of our past, as we are of theirs.


Interpersonal past

"If we are not in someone's memory, are we there at all?" This exchange of the past with all people who were once part of our lives further entangled the web with which our personal search back in time holds us tight. The "past" (is there such a word?) Of people intertwine, wrap and sometimes tie in such a strong knot that it would probably tighten in other lives. Those we remember will always exist. He who remembers us keeps us alive beyond the limits of the notion of time and space.

But what happens if we lose track of who we are and try to rebuild ourselves through a foreign past? "Can one come together in this way, in parts, through the memories of others, and what would happen in the end (…) something glued together by absolutely incompatible memories and ideas of so many people?"


The novel asks questions that everyone often asks and without looking for specifics in the answers, suggests what the world would become, and we, the people, as an integral part of it, if the game of the past goes beyond the necessary limits and becomes life itself .


Collective past

So far with the past concerning the individual. Then the pages take us through a linear gradation of the vast past. I remember that in another novel, the protagonist, a history teacher, wonders if history can be taught from front to back, and what effect would this have on our notion of time?


And Georgi Gospodinov asks: What happens if an entire nation, state, continent wants to return to the past? Will there be a consensus on the year to choose? What will be the motives? Will the conflict be internal or external? Is it possible for it to happen at all and how do the individual countries proceed? To increase interest, I insert a thought stolen from the text concerning our country: "You can't make a museum of something that hasn't gone away!"


A time refuge is both an ode and an elegy of the past, a refuge and an escape, a constant discovery and loss. A bit reminiscent of Milan Kundera with the idea of ​​kitsch, a bit of Jose Saramago with the lack of conditioned direct speech, but with his typical faceted style of writing, with the familiar ease, Gospodinov presents the topic of memory, which I believe is stuck in everyone's chest . "Time Shelter" gives some form to the past, frames it, then scatters it, releases it and traces its lightning spread to people, nations and countries. And most of all, it carries the message that "the past, like fire, cannot be looked straight in the eye," so "I remember to hold the past in the past."


The past is a source for history and its bearer - the individual. It is not an opportunity to experience something again, to revive and recreate it, because the past is as incorrigible as life itself.

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