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An Introduction

The Ridiculous Excess
of Mercy


Brunhilde's Act

The Portrait of a
Russian Gay Gentleman

The Young Woman
and a River

C Major or E Flat
Minor? No, Thanks!



The Young Woman
and A River

Slavoj Zizek


[...]Both Katja Kabanova and Jenufa, Janacek’s other masterpiece, are set in a matriarchal universe which turn out to be no less oppressive than the patriarchal one; however, while, in Katja, matriarchy is presented as malevolent, as the reign of perverted and hypocritical Evil, in Jenufa it is a benevolent force: Sacristia, Jenufa’s mother-in-law, sacrifices herself for Jenufa, killing her newborn son in order to render possible her marriage—in Jenufa, the confession is not Jenufa’s, but Sacristia’s. It was already Max Brod, together with none other than Kafka, Janacek’s personal friend and admirer, who noticed this key common feature of Jenufa and Katja: the public confession. However, this shared feature only makes all the more palpable the contrast between the two cases: in Jenufa, the crime is truly a crime, but justified as an act of love that effectively saves Jenufa (by getting rid of the unwanted child, Jenufa can marry and lead a normal life), and the confession itself is also done out of love (to save Jenufa, who is suspected of killing her child), while in Katja, the crime (love affair) is not truly a crime at all, and its public confession is irrational—far from saving the heroine, it brings about her destruction.[...]


art: Nancy Barton, poster from the series Swan Song, 1985

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