NAMES by Erih Kos


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This import from Yugoslavia worries the problem of identity in the dimly tiered world of a contemporary structured society, and succeeds in condemning, not the society, but the individual's withdrawal from life. Mihailo Milic, working as a minor editor on a newspaper, a generally crabbed, irritable man in his fifties, unmarried, discontented with lack of progress in his work, jealous of his superiors, finds, to his disquiet, that his ability to remember names is slowly slipping away. Credited with accuracy, if not creativity by his superiors, Milic is at first annoyed, but when the malady becomes worse, he begins to become obsessed with the meaning of names, consulting a scholar, physician, and finally a psychiatrist. It is during this painful search that Milic becomes aware of the barren dust of names without lives. At the close, Milic loses his own name, is taken into custody by the police (""the law...does not regard a name as a private affair"") and his now-alien name is resurrected with a highly uncomplimentary biography by the world he knew but didn't grasp. Having forgotten the ideals of the past, the fact of what we have become, we have escaped from our names, escaped from life. A monotoned philosophical rumination, heavily didactic, an intellectual exercise. Special.

Pub Date: Sept. 28th, 1966
Publisher: Harcourt, Brace & World