I recently received an incredible package from an incredible lady – Lena Ruth Stefanovich. She shared with me two of her books, and the decks that go with them. I am both honored and humbled to be able to have this material in my hands. The first book was “Lo Triumpe”, which you can see here: https://theworldoftarot.wordpress.com/2012/04/15/lo-triumpe/.
The second book is “Devil – An Unauthorized Biography” (OKF, Cetinje, 2011), a collection of stories based partially on Jewish culture and the Tarot, and partially on urban living in general. The deck that accompanies this book is the “Vaudeville Tarot”, by Spanish artist Francisco J. Campos. More on this deck can be seen here – http://www.orphalese.net/decksbydominatrix.aspx?chosenculture=en.
I love this book – it comes in the original language, with some English translations at the back of the book. In his preface Sanjin Sorel notes that Tarot, like the Jewish culture, provides the framework, without which reality would be the metonymy of emptiness. He feels that Stefanovic writes of an absent presence, the figure of melancholy seems to be the solution that brings salvation.
Also from Sorel’s preface: “Dreams, inner disputes and doubts, the continuous contrast of reality, imagination, and memories … these are all the elements from which Lena Ruth’s literary world is built.” Sorel gives Stefanovic the highest praise when he states “Interestingly, Lena Ruth executes the concept primarily through poetry, which additionally, by genre, destabilizes the concept. In any case, the book is diverse, but thematically coherent.”
In his preface Tanja Bakic speaks of the genre of Stefanovic’s previous work as contemporary fairytale. The implied dilemma between the esoteric and the mystic form the foundation for her current work, this time through the genre of poetry. Is this book poetry, fairytale, mystical, esoteric … or a combination? Stefanovic addresses the archetypal images, and the darkest parts of the soul.
I loved the preface by Stephen J, Mangan, as he describes Stefanovic as a lady who “gets things done”! (Mangan played the role of friend and translator for this book.) From his preface: “When Tarot, poetry, the devil and his burlesque meet therefore, they need no introduction – it is no meeting of strangers – but a reunion.”
Pavle Goranovic, in his preface, speaks of poetry in prose as an artistic expression in which language itself serves as a tool of evocation and estheticism. He defines different pieces of this book in different ways: microfiction (Baruch and Olyechka), poetry (The Cleaner), narrative poetry (Tzadikkim; Burlesque), and vignettes (Carte Fine).
In his preface, the artist, Francisco J. Campos, describes Tarot as a tool that combines symbols in a random manner to give an answer. Campos both acted in vaudeville, and worked on the production end. He saw this as a magical world, and brought it into the world of Tarot.
Several stories and poems have been translated at the back of the book, including “Darkness and I”, “Burlesque”, “The Devil (An Autobiography)”, and “Baruch and Olyechka”.
From the book:
The Devil (An Autobiography)
Do you not know me!
I am your adversary in this tale;
that arrogant voice born of doubt
and fostered by fear.
I dwell in the constant storm
of your uncertainty,
sprouting in darkness,
fed by your fury
and drinking up your pain
until you stumble and fall.
Still you dismiss me with a smile,
denying my existence
as I bury you alive.
© April 2012 Bonnie Cehovet