By Wiesław Myśliwski
Our hero and narrator is the getting older caretaker of cottages at a summer time lodge. A mysterious customer conjures up him to proportion the tale of his lengthy lifestyles: we witness a cheerful formative years minimize brief through the battle, his hiding from the Nazis buried in a heap of potatoes, his plodding makes an attempt to play the saxophone, the brutal homicide of his family members, loves misplaced yet remembered, and footloose travels in another country. advised within the demeanour of acquaintances and friends swapping tales over the mundane activity of shelling beans—in the grand oral culture of Myśliwski’s celebrated Stone Upon Stone—each anecdote, lived event, and reminiscence accrues cross-stitched layers of that means. via turns hilarious and poignant, A Treatise on Shelling Beans is an epic recounting of a existence that, whereas common, is something yet traditional.
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Extra info for A Treatise on Shelling Beans
The elegiac mistress may possess a camp in which her lover parades (Prop. 15–16) or choose her lovers as a general chooses his soldiers (Am. 5–6), but generally elegiac metaphors are concerned with male servitude not female mastery, and with male military service not female generalship. 82 The metaphors of seruitium and militia amoris thus disclose the ideological repercussions for a man of association with a realistically 82 See now Greene (1998) against Hallett’s reading of elegy as empowering women.
The romantic view that Propertian love-elegy is a sincere expression of its author’s feelings and a realistic representation of an Augustan girlfriend is clearly facilitated by poems in which narrative realism predominates. There the virtual absence of historically documented or even named addressees, the frequent shifts between second- and third-person reference, and the general lack of a well-deﬁned occasion for enunciation prohibit for the reader any easy transition from the text to an extra-textual reality.
53 A parallel for the topos of the lover-as-enslaver can be found in Hellenistic erotic writing, but Augustan elegy’s casting of the female in the dominant sexual role seems to work against the operations of other Roman sexual discourses. The Propertian narrator asks: quid mirare, meam si uersat femina uitam Ô et trahit addictum sub sua iura uirum? (Why are you astonished if a woman drives my life Ô and drags, bound beneath her own laws, a man? Thus the control of household slaves, a woman’s version of the economic status of a dominus, has been transformed ﬁguratively into the erotic condition of control over sexual slaves.