Excerpt from Death of Descartes


It’s now around nine o’clock in the evening: the time of my father’s death.

And my father? Now, only this watch on my table, a pocket Schaffhausen purchased before I was born; to determine the exact date I’d have to look at the warranty (it’s somewhere around here, buried among papers; that too I found after father’s death). What else? My father: this fountain pen, also my keepsake, although I hardly use it, then (my father), the selected works of Descartes and Montaigne, in three volumes, Éditions Garnier—paperbacks, with covers that bend to the touch, which only accentuates the impression of comradely handiness of these books: tightly bound (not a single stitch had broken despite the frequent turning of the pages); they are still extremely pliant: even if I won’t be reading Montaigne anymore I am almost certain that I’ll still be holding one of these books in my hand, as if that touch in the absence of text will once again bring me in contact with Montaigne (and also, in desperation, with my father and his hands?). The day my father died I found those three volumes of Montaigne on his writing desk, next to the lamp (the light was left on, in an empty room, as if father hadn’t been elsewhere, in the Neuropsychiatric Ward, but had only left the room for a moment and would soon return); they lay under the third or fourth volume of Churchill’s Memoirs. There was something revolting in that scene, as if that Churchill on top of Montaigne personified the tyranny of memory and governance over an individual who tried to reject every form of rule, not only the rule over other people and even animals, but also the rule—in whatever form—over one’s own self; and he rejected governance precisely by surrendering to his weak memory: for weak memory is the essence of weak rule. Lord Michel, seigneur de Montaigne, knight of the King’s Order and a gentleman of his chamber, complained that “there exists no memory so monstrously weak” (si monstrueuse en defaillance) as his own (in the essay “On Liars”), and there is no doubt that he suffered from frail memory, since it sustained in him the monstrosity of man whose own self perpetually escapes him; just as there is no doubt in my mind that this man, who quoted Terence (from The Eunuch)—Plenus rimarum sum—to describe himself as someone who is riddled with holes, was in the possession of memory that was as frail as his governance, and to this extent he was a man of difference and multiplicity. Because: to reject rule is to reject memory. He will cite Seneca: “I thought it a great thing to always be the same man,” but his inability to remember is precisely the splitting of this eternally selfsame man, the shattering of everything eternally same; indeed, it is his great playfulness: “We are made up of bits and pieces assembled in such a formless and varied manner that every piece at every moment plays its own separate game. And there is as much difference between us and ourselves as there is between us and others.” (Est se trouve autant de difference de nous a nous mesmes, que de nous a autruy, —see “Of the Inconsistency of our Actions,” in the first book of Essays, published in 1580).

But what was Montaigne doing on my father’s writing desk, for my father was certainly not a man made “of bits and pieces, assembled in a formless and varied manner,” but a man who appeared to be chiseled “out of one block,” like Socrates, or his ideal as expressed in his entreaty to Pan and other gods: grant me “inward beauty, and may all my outward appearance be in harmony with my inner qualities” (in Plato’s Phaedrus or On Beauty)—a man who resembled “one of those ancient statues (…) entirely constructed from a single block,” “a classical work of art that had elevated itself to those heights,” since Socratic virtues possess “the form of a single independent decision.” I recognized my father in these words (Hegel, The History of Philosophy, volume II) the first time I had read them: he indeed took “the form of a single independent decision” (rather than custom, temperament, or necessity)—for I had never met a man more irrevocably self-possessed, more steadfast, a man more “classical” or more perfectly formed: “a statue” that moves, a pure form, an absolute form. I feared this man of perfect form, although I didn’t known what made me so fearful of him, and now I do: I feared the loneliness which had never left him, not for a single moment, the loneliness of that which is closed upon itself, which doesn’t play and is perfectly formed, steadfast but untouchable:  a great gentleman, a great loneliness.



Death did not make him lonelier, nor did it make him more perfect: still alive, my father, sitting upright in his armchair, as on a royal throne, Maiestas domini, while he waited for me to speak (for I appeared before him only when I had something to say: my father, who remains silent, as if to compel me to speech?)—was indeed the same as he was in death: he didn’t have to wait for death to become a complete or a perfect work, that is, a work without a fault: father without me, or father as perfection without a fault, cold perfection, like my father’s hands, at the very end—so I screamed, there, in the middle of the Neuropsychiatric Ward: “My father, fault has forgotten us, love has forsaken us,” or no, maybe I just dreamt it, gazing at his perfectly chiseled profile, illuminate by the rays of the late afternoon sun (cold late afternoon sun), maybe I just said: “Take him away; why don’t you take him away from here already? What’s the use of all this? Who needs this?” –Who needs this: on his deathbed, he truly was a “classical work of art,” possessing the necessary order of constituent parts, the mouth, the nose, the eyes gently closed, though slightly drooping, without a twitch around the lips; he was so serene that he reminded me (but only later, in my memory, when I had already gone home) of Pascal’s death mask (even though my father was already an old man), so that it seemed as if he had found Pascal, or, more precisely, as if he had been possessed by Pascal, whom my father had hardly seen prior to his death (he mentioned Montaigne, never Pascal): after his death I found two volumes of Pascal’s collected works out of fourteen that were published by Hachette, the twelfth and the fourteenth, the Pensées, edited by Brunschvicg; I don’t know what happened to the thirteenth: they were on the bottom shelf of the library, behind father’s chair, in the second row, covered in dust, among more or less insignificant books; when I opened them I was greeted by the stench of mold and staleness (would Descartes have also kept Pascal in this way, on the bottom, in the second row, among insignificant things?). Obviously, in his life of self-discipline, Pascal was somewhere in the dark, behind his back, I would say, left by the wayside, but patient nonetheless; that must be it, because Pascal is patient, like death; Pascal knows that his hour is coming, surely—although in the calmness of his death mask my own Pascal is absent, the Pascal of the Mémorial, the one with pauses, with blank spaces, threatened by the abyss bound to open at any moment, between lines, no, between words, in the same line, since this calmness is something like the fruit of “geometric contemplation,” its crowning glory (without the Mémorial, without Jesus? —See: Georges Buraud, Les masques, Club des éditeurs, Paris, 1951; I don’t know who gave me that book, I can’t see the man’s face, I can only see his hand, and on the basis of the hand I know that this man is also dead: more and more I keep company with the dead),—so that the calmness of Pascal’s death mask would be something akin to the calmness of my father’s lifeless face, the crowning glory of his unerring rationality, his form of internal “logic,” beyond any surprise whatsoever, beyond the world. Because necessity exists only in logic; in logic there are no surprises (Wittgenstein, Tractatus; I was reading Tractatus when my mother was dying in the hospital hallway, on the bench beside the door of her room: experience neither confirms nor negates logic, “the enduring and painful experience of love,” —Rilke, The Ninth Elegy,—even so, the gloomy light of the hospital hallway still falls on the pages of my Tractatus: in the distance, trees without leaves, and rain). There is no necessity in the world: my father’s face in the Neuropsychiatric Ward is the face not of this world, it is an unworldly face, an absolute form as absolute predictability and providence of every singularity, every part, and in that sense, that which is absolutely singular, or perfect, in the triumph of order (or mind), a face of a being that remains untouchable even when you place your hand on it, untouchable, like this ashtray besides me, like a tree, —that tree in front of Stand (in Trieste, after father’s death). I didn’t expect to see that tree there; a bicycle was leaning against it; its front wheel was turned slightly to the left; it was already getting dark; but I could see clearly, and I still see that wheel quite clearly; I don’t like it, I don’t know why, that wheel turned slightly to the left—and I see: that bicycle is still there, leaning against that tree, a tree submerged in itself (I don’t believe Rilke rode a bicycle): Arbre qui peut-être / Pense audedans. / Arbre qui se domine / Se donnant lentement / La forme qui élimine / Les hasards du vent [1] (Poèmes français. —I wanted to purchase this in Trieste.) —Here, I’m repeating it, la forme qui élimine les hasards du vent (the form which excludes the perils of the wind), which is self-originating, turned towards its own interiority, and so it excludes the perilous wind, but it also excludes the entire world: not only me, but that bicycle as well, so that it seems as if someone had leaned that bicycle against my father, without him (my father) knowing it, feeling it, that bicycle leaning against my father, that is twilight, the great commotion of birds (which I can’t see), —yes, that is that.



My father excludes all that, or, to put it differently: my father excludes Montaigne or life as “the irregular, continuous movement, without master or aim,” there where Montaigne’s chance (l’hazard) is indeed so powerful, puisque nous vivons par hazards: we live as if carried by the wind of chance (le vent des accidents), or by the wind of circumstance (le vent des occasions), and so Montaigne counsels: surrender to the wind (se laisser rouler au vent), and because of this he will say: “We don’t go, we get carried,” something which my father would never say: my father, moving in a perfectly regular manner, directed towards a fixed aim. His walk was unhurried (self-discipline does not tolerate haste, since surprises lurk in haste; governance slows everything down), his step was perfectly measured (against surprises), so that it appeared as if he wasn’t walking at all (of what use was Montaigne here?). –Conversely, I dragged myself, si foible et si chetif, si poisant et si endormy (“so pitiful and weak, so sluggish and sleepy”), in front of him, or behind him, flapping my hands, I went along, stumbling, as if tripping on my own leg, as if I was that puppet made of rags; he had given it to me once, when I was sick, but my intention wasn’t to speak about that (event though I’m aware that I’m mainly speaking about things of which I would rather remain silent), people in passing turned to look at me (or am I only dreaming it now?), while I kept shifting from his left side to his right, and then back again, from the right side to his left, trailing behind him then rushing in front: but I was never able to walk by his side, to keep his pace, I always leapt forward, waiting for him to arrive and then, trailing behind once again, I rushed along in order to catch up with him, I laughed, I cried, or maybe I was only afraid that I’ll start laughing, that I’ll break down in tears, as if that would change something, as if he wouldn’t have continued walking, in his measured pace; nothing could disrupt that pace, nothing could even stop him, for he walked as if I wasn’t there alongside him at all, as if all this was a dream of this old man on his way back to his childhood. He only asked me once perhaps to straighten my back (and this in a very quiet voice) and also to lift my chin (and close my mouth), to bend my legs at the knees (that especially), and to evenly lift and lower my legs (not to drag them behind me), to make sure my elbows don’t stick out. I can’t say that he told me to read the classics in order to keep a measured step—I don’t know where I got this; Pound couldn’t sleep if he simply imagined what America would be like if Americans read more classics (Cantico del Sole), even though he was thinking of liberty rather than dignity, that is, the perfectly uniform and measured step—no, there’s no dignity in Pound; he merely repeats, in Cantico del Sole, two or three sentences, changing only the word order, and that is the same or different, wealth in poverty, movement around a fixed point, the encounter of movement and stillness for the purpose of recognizing the one in the other; Pascal would like that, or he would understand it, surely, for that is the possibility of God, that, where there is motion in stillness, the infinite in the finite, that which is even if it remains incomprehensible—I don’t know if Pound read Pascal. No, I don’t remember if he told me to read more classics (my father, not Pound), but who has read more classics than Montaigne, and still he was carried by the winds of chance (as though he hadn’t read a single classic), life, thought, speech, movement, á sauts et à gambades (in jumps and skips), in constant fear that everything will crumble, while my father, on the other hand, succeeded in connecting everything, as if all beings, and not only all things, were nothing but syllables in his Latin verse (I-one syllable, mom—another, sun or death—the third; dactyls, trochaic dactyls, and iambs, anapests), just that: material for his prosody, for his protracted chanting, daily (usually in the early evening), behind the closed doors.



Every day: I listen to him and now, sexagenarius of thirteen years, puer aeternus, I hold his door with both hands, with my shoulder pressed against the doorpost as if something from within will sweep me away (the door will unexpectedly open, inexorably) once and for all, a storm, an ocean, some force, that will erupt from my father’s unwavering and quiet muttering. As if I wanted to remain there, to stay awhile, amidst my father’s chanting, this service to the Law (since my father was a lawyer, did I already mention that? Montaigne did not like lawyers, nor Plato, nor Hegel, nor Marx, nor Pascal; nor Jesus, I don’t believe that Jesus could have liked lawyers), that is, this service to rule and order, from one caesura to the next, in that perfection of lawfulness, or repetition, in the complete predictability of all things, in the impossibility of surprise, or chance of any kind: in syllables, in pauses, in the entire world of animals, and plants, and people, and me, here, clinging to the door, on the other side, holding my breath? I’m afraid: I’ll disappear, get lost; but it is as if I want precisely that, in happiness, in fear and trembling (“continue to work out your salvation with fear and trembling” The Epistle of Paul to the Philippians, 2:12—Pascal also cites this, I don’t remember where); the outlines of this order, of this metrical scheme, were simple, I knew that even then, when I was thirteen: father could rule, with their assistance, effortlessly, with the assistance of that perfectly meager thing, amenable to repetition: there is no order without poverty, there’s no order in wealth. Rule impoverishes. Who then is allowed, who dares to be rich? (Everyone evokes wealth; but I think that wealth has long ceased believing in us.) Pauses were hardly audible, between two syllables, only sometimes between the verses, or when that one yonder, owing to something else, would stop,–and that would continue for some time, and I would then be overcome by dread; I waited for him to announce himself again, I was terrified, and I still live with this dread, that he won’t continue, that I won’t hear him, that he won’t respond, later on, to our calls: the dinner is already on the table, the meal has long been cold, we wait in vain for him to arrive, but he won’t be coming anymore: he failed to connect one syllable to the next, a pause, the one that was so negligible a moment ago, a pause that had seemed so obedient, which separated only to unite—it, suddenly, opened up: an abyss which nothing, which no one, not even him, can surmount. The abyss—an evil premonition finally come true: that this nothing, this emptiness between two words, two syllables, will open up, free itself (the nothingness imprisoned between two syllables), and swallow us. (Between words, between syllables, great are the threatening voids: we speak, even in our dreams we don’t cease speaking?) Yet he went on; he continued to rule over words and syllables and pauses so confidently that these were no longer mere words, mere stresses, stretches, and pauses—but, for all that, he was no longer exclusively himself, as if that one yonder, that master of beings and words, the absolute master—since he can do what others can’t: to turn beings into words, and words into beings—as if that one yonder, behind the closed doors, a disembodied voice, could no longer be my father, to be with us, if only for a moment, so that we can dine together (for, as I’ve already said: my father never chanted during the day, but began only in the early evening, journeying into the night), he couldn’t come back to us. I waited in the kitchen, mother stood by the table, gazing at his door for who knows how long. At last, she had to come to the door, to knock, but she may as well have been knocking on Horace’s doors, or Virgil’s: he didn’t respond. I waited in fear for the chanting to stop, and for the doors, after a definite pause (now shorter, now longer), again to open, inaudibly, even though it’s possible that he’ll only be sitting there at his writing desk, with an enormous book open in front of him, with his hand, raised high in the air, holding a goose quill, and his right foot on the pile of large format books, grand in-18, or in-16-“jésus, I don’t know which. When he was away from home, I took the largest books and piled them on top of each other; and then, sitting at his writing desk, I placed my leg on top of the pile, my right leg; and thus, slightly raising my right hand, which was holding a quill, I turned my head towards the door, to the spot where that other I (that “I” that was now my son?) was supposed to appear; my eyes wide open, my mouth closed. Because that is Descartes: eyes open, mouth closed. Later, after I had read the Discourse for the first time, sitting at my father’s desk, taking the same posture, I tried to produce on my lips a small shudder of disgust or bitterness: I was certain of the bitterness there, even though I couldn’t define it: something between hopelessness and persistence, incorruptible, prodigious, and blind, something between rationality and that irrational persistence—some kind of rationality in service of something which can’t even be determined: we exist. We think. We know that we exist—and that should satisfy us? What to do with the fact that we know that we exist? (What to do with the fact that we exist?) Bitterness, at the corners of the mouth. (See Hals’ portrait of Descartes; these things at my side, Discours de la méthode, Méditations métaphysiques, Traité des passions, —éditions Lutetia, in Nelson’s redaction—are all that remains of my father —the engraving was certainly based on Hals’ portrait, but I don’t know the author: a similar was made by L. Suynderhoeff, I know nothing about him, I don’t remember where I’ve seen it.) He is watching me, as if I had just interrupted him in his writing, but I’ve been searching in vain, in his room, around his legs, for my own shadow: not even my own shadow is present; see, that is that, I’m merely a pause in the thought-sentence of my father, but he’ll master that pause too and return to his writing, so little is needed (so inconceivably little): for him to merely turn his head, from the right shoulder towards the left, not even a quarter of a circle—he can keep the leg in the same spot, on the books—he’ll complete his sentence; the sentence will close, in a circle—Arbre qui se domine—in a circle, no one can stop this movement, and that is what frightens me (perhaps what I feared even then?). –Or, maybe, when the doors suddenly fling wide open and reveal a complete silence, he will no longer be at his table and will appear instead at the door, but then again this will be some other man, who is not my father. It’ll be a man who only resembles my father (am I saying: that my father only resembled my father?), a man who is disguised as my father, which means that, in a few moments, mother and I will seat ourselves at the kitchen table with that frightening foreigner, namely, that we’ll dine with the man who murdered my father. My head, suddenly heavy, hung above the plate, but that plate was somewhere far in the distance, even though my left and right hand were beside it; yet I wasn’t allowed to take the fork, or the knife, not even to play with them; for as long as I can remember, I could hardly restrain myself from turning the fork in my hand, between my fingers, or from dragging my fingertip across the knife blade.  I wasn’t allowed to even look at the man who sat there in my father’s place (my father had then long abandoned me?), and we did nothing, we didn’t even cry for help, we didn’t even interrupt the meal: we dined, together with him. I watched as my mother poured soup into his plate, slowly and carefully, as if this had truly been my father. And when my turn for soup finally came, I was afraid (as always, in this instance as well?) that I’ll make a mistake: that I’ll lift my plate and offer it to my mother—this servility, this eagerness to please, offends propriety, it is uncouth.  And I was afraid, further along, that I’ll dip the soupspoon towards me (which is improper), and not away from me (which is proper), with my elbow resting at my side. And when bringing the soupspoon to my mouth, I was afraid that I’ll open my mouth too early, that my head will start moving towards my hand, against my will, that I’ll start crying: my father’s gone, Latin tongue remains—instead of sitting upright, in silence. No one will kill the dead Latin tongue. No one will even take away the father’s plate from our table; there’s no forgetting for that plate: a fork and a knife are placed in a cross on top of it; my father had placed them there so neatly, before he collapsed, because he collapsed here, at the dinner table: a cross made from a fork and knife, for my father, but made by his own hand (he by himself, for his own self)—how was he able, while dying, to do that: to form, to make a cross from a knife and a fork (and what is more, with the spikes turned down; he forbade me to leave my fork with the spikes turned up), as if this wasn’t death at all, with us, at our table, as if death itself doesn’t exist, only a caesura, between two syllable clusters: while my father was dying, his lips moved, but without speaking—was he chanting (my poor papa), so that I could now claim even this: that he’s deader than the dead Latin tongue?



“What did you say?” I would raise myself above him. I held him by the hand; he was departing (leaving me his hand which was no longer useful to him?), I eavesdropped (for it was truly still), as if waiting for him to speak once more, as if that too, this time as well, was only a pause in a sentence (death as a pause in a sentence?), a pause in his special kind of speech that goes on, even though I can’t hear it, or, perhaps, as if he were still chanting. His lips were trembling faster: those were caesuras becoming shorter, as if nothingness had actually refused to be confined into a caesura, between two syllables, as if nothingness no longer wanted to be his servant, his hopelessly tamed beast, so that father could bring this undertaking to its finish (and thus to participate in infinity?): so that by dismantling he can unite all those syllables, both stressed and unstressed, together with all possible beings and all possible things, and by uniting to dismantle them. He tried, therefore, first in my hands, and then later, there, in that vast, cold room where we brought him, among others who were dying (when they lifted him into a wheelchair in the hospital hallway, I was the one who placed his Lock on his head—did I already mention this, namely, Lock & Hatters, St. James’s Street—I still have this hat that belonged to my dead father)—he tried, to the very end, to retain the nothingness in the confines of a caesura, in the circle of a metrical foot. I don’t know whose words he recited while I pushed that wheelchair, and later, while he lay on his deathbed, and that’s the same as me not knowing who he was back then: Virgil, or Quintilian, or Horace; I don’t know who died when my father died, I don’t know who that person was before his lips stopped trembling (in the end, barely trembling at all). The emptiness has disappeared between two words, two syllables, itus et redictus, the high and low tide, the sea (Pascal illustrated this, as if listening to the sea or some colossal heart, up and down, back and forth, or as if attempting to see the sun, in movement—Pensées, 355, edited by Brunschvicg): the speech has disappeared, and so the night is already drawing nigh, it has come without me even noticing that this has occurred: motionless lips, or—at last—the liberation of nothingness from a caesura. It was a death, in silence, in complete abandonment, far from his writing table, from the lamp on the table (I left it there to burn,—there is no one in that room anymore, yet the lamp is still burning,—who will extinguish it?), far from Montaigne, from Code civil, far from the teacup: that teacup is broken; I broke it while I stood in front of my father (again, he was sitting at his writing desk), staring at that teacup, with steam coming out of it, staring at the Chinese landscape, covered in fog, at the lake with a boat on it, at the left and the right tree—above the lake, birds, but it’s as if a storm is coming: I held that teacup in fear (as if I had stepped into a Latin dream of my father, as if I had stepped into his dying), I was afraid that the tea would spill over the rim (a storm, a storm was coming), onto the porcelain saucer, that the teacup would fall from my hand. When the cup actually fell from my hand, onto his desk, he apparently stopped chanting at once—or, at that time, he wasn’t even reciting verses, I can’t say; but I still see him holding a piece of that teacup, watching it; he even began turning it in his hand, as if he wanted to see it from all sides, always silent, yet still, in such a way that it seemed as if he wasn’t looking at a piece of a broken teacup, but at something which is irreparable, something which is forever. So this is forever, the first time that forever appeared in my life, the first time that death appeared in my life: later, when I watched my father, who is now dead, I saw that teacup. As if it epitomized all that I know and all that I possess, all that is dear to me, my entire world, that broken teacup, with a few tealeaves, in the Chinese landscape, my father and I, in that teacup, all of my confessions, covered in fog, before the moment of death. Only that broken teacup, and my father’s hand, and that piece, in his hand, between the index finger and the thumb; I think it was the lower part of the tree, the short one, with a wide crown. I bent down later on, on the other side of the table, over my father’s hand, and watched it, and then searched, among the shards, for the other piece of that tree, that crown (with many leaves, if I’m not mistaken), but I couldn’t find it: I would take this or that piece of blue porcelain from the table and then bring it up to that other piece in my father’s hand (yet again, my father didn’t have a face; he was only that hand, with two outstretched fingers, with that piece of porcelain glass), but none of these pieces matched that other piece, so that one could assemble it, to connect it (as if I could assemble anything? to connect anything?).  I lay almost stretched on the table, beneath father: that was hope, desperation, in the light, during the day, or in the darkness already, with my knees bent, with my legs in pain, in the quickly darkening night, behold, that is that:  a forgotten image of the whole, or Montaigne: he who doesn’t have an image of the whole in his mind can’t connect the pieces either (“is impossible for anyone to arrange the pieces, who has not the whole form already contrived in his imagination,”—Of the inconsistency of our actions; same in Pascal, Pensées, 72), we are pieces that will never be assembled into a whole, pieces that play, each one its own game (Nous sommes tous de lopins et d’une contexture si informe et divers, que chaque piece, chaque momant faict son jeu) [2]: son jeu, son jeu, the wind is getting stronger, le vent des hazards, des accidents, des occasions; ce mauvais vent: cette mauvaisch venggg (from: ce mauvais vent, Pound, Canto LXXVI), I wanted Rilke, his poems in French,—did I already mention that?—but I bought Pound, in Trieste, in Cooperativa degli Servi, in the San Michele street; the graveyard in the Venetian lagoon, where Pound was buried, during the high tide, no deeper than a meter, carries the same name (I often think of that: Pound’s shallow grave); Pound cannot be sought after; he becomes one’s lot. A Dante without memory.



[1] A tree which perhaps/ think from within/ A tree which reins itself/ submitting gently/ to the form that excludes/ the perils of the wind (my translation).

[2] We are all lumps, and of so various and inform a contexture, that every piece plays, every moment, its own game.


Radomir Konstantinović

Radomir Konstantinović (1928-2011) was a prominent Yugoslav and Serbian writer, philosopher, essayist, and literary critic. He started out as a poet and writer of experimental modernist novels (Daj nam danas, 1954; Mišolovka, 1956; Čisti i prljavi, 1958; Izlazak, 1960), in the vein of Bataille, Sartre, and Beckett; however, it was his treatise, Filosofija Palanke (Philosophy of the Small Town, 1969) and his anti-nationalist stance during the Yugoslav Wars that have largely secured his reputation as an outspoken and uncompromising public intellectual. Towards the end of his life, Konstantinović turned to autofiction, producing two “companion” books, Dekartova smrt (Death of Descartes, 1996) and Beket, prijatelj (Beckett, A Friend, 2000), which have been increasingly regarded as his literary masterpieces.

Vladislav Beronja

Vladislav Beronja is an Assistant Professor of Slavic and Eurasian Studies at the University of Texas at Austin. He is co-editor (alongside Stijn Vervaet) of Post-Yugoslav Constellations: Archive, Memory, and Trauma in Bosnian, Croatian, and Serbian Literature and Culture (De Gruyter, 2016)Currently, he is finishing his first monograph, titled Archival Fictions: Cultural Memory, Literary Imagination, and the Yugoslav Wars. He has translated works by Miroslav Krleža and Judita Šalgo and is currently working on a translation of Radomir Konstantinović’s Death of Descartes.

Dekartova smrt. Copyright (c) Estate of Radomir Konstantinović, 1996. English translation copyright (c) Vladislav Beronja, 2020.