Between then and now, there and here, guilt and innocence : Škvorecký’s Two murders in my double life and the ambiguities of transitional justice



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I situate Škvorecký’s novel as both a primary document in the historical record of transitional justice and as a literary creation in the author’s larger oeuvre. In creating this work of autobiographical fiction, Škvorecký deals with the ambiguities of a tumultuous historico-political moment and creates an appropriately complex work of art. I combine social science research with close-reading of the text in the tradition of new historicism. In the introduction I explain the historico-political background, specifically transitional justice and lustration in Czech Republic in the early 1990s, that engendered Two Murders. In my first chapter, I examine the book reviews, Czech and English, that appeared following the two language-respective publications of Two Murders. In the remaining three chapters I present my analysis of the novel based on close-reading and applied historical information. Chapters two and three discuss different but interconnected manifestations of distance. Chapter two examines memory as the temporal distance of the mind, while chapter three explores exile as spatial distance. Škvorecký invests memory and exile with enormous significance, and uses both concepts to depict his characters’ isolation. In the final chapter, I discuss rumor and reputation in the novel’s two distinct story-lines, demonstrating how they come together to create a cohesive artistic work. Approaching the novel as both a historical document and a work of art, I hope to critically examine this complicated historical moment and appraise Škvorecký’s contribution to the post-communist Czech dialogue.