Virtuosic performance text, palimpsest of a nineteenth-century Russian folktale, and a merciless and often very funny sectioning of the self, Ania Walwicz’s horse enacts what it names: ‘Polyphony as identity’. The narrative more or less follows the story of The Little Humpbacked Horse by Piotr Jerszow, in which a magical horse repeatedly helps Ivan, a foolish young farm boy, towards his fairy-tale ending. In Walwicz’s wilder and more fragmentary retelling, the protagonist’s identity comprises both horse and rider, tsar and groom, tyrant and the tyrannised, abused child and academic, the self of fiction and the ‘autobiographical’. The effect is almost Cubist, in that all of these facets are visible without becoming a settled, realist literary image.
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