Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey through Yugoslavia by Rebecca West

By Rebecca West

Widely known as West's so much exceptional nonfiction paintings, this booklet describes the author's travels to Yugoslavia along with her husband in 1937--a trip overshadowed via the starting to be inevitability of the second one international conflict.

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Extra info for Black Lamb and Grey Falcon: A Journey through Yugoslavia

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At this time, Naomi Mitchison is writing about the bloody events in Vienna that will lead to the Anschluss, and others are experiencing the premonition of impending confrontation in Spain, but for West it is Yugoslavia that is the potentially seismic country. In considering her book, then, we must try to envisage that now-obliterated nation as she did. This is to say, we must begin by looking at it through the reverse end of the telescope. The murder of King Alexander puts her in mind, successively but not in order, of the assassination of Empress Elizabeth of Austria in 1898 (which had much discomposed her own mother), of the fervor of the schismatic Donatists of the fourth century, of the cruel butchery of King Alexander Obrenovi of Serbia, together with his wife, Queen Draga, in the royal palace in Belgrade in 1903, and finally of the cataclysmic shooting of the Austrian archduke Franz Ferdinand and his consort in the capital of Bosnia in June 1914.

She was thus ideally positioned, in point of age and precocity, to take a hand in the journalistic and critical ferment that followed the Great War. Although inclined to experiment and to the eclectic—she published articles in Wyndham Lewis’s vorticist magazine BLAST in addition to Ford Madox Ford’s English Review—she was no intellectual butterfly and, after a brief flirtation with Garsington and Bloomsbury and the world of Virginia Woolf and Ottoline Morrell, found her natural intellectual home on the freethinking liberal left.

Of this event, West notes ruefully that at the time she was too much absorbed in her own private concerns to pay the necessary attention. ” Indeed, and without getting too much ahead of our story, the “madeleine” of 28 June 1914, in particular, prompts memories in many more minds than that of Rebecca West. It was on that same day in 1389—St. Vitus’s Day-that the Serbian armies of Prince Lazar had known the bitterness of utter vanquishment at the hands of the Turks on the Field of Kosovo: a permanent wound in the national heart that was to be cynically reopened by an anniversary speech given by Slobodan Miloševi on the very same date in 1989.

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