Ilze Šķipsna’s Prose and Women’s Writing: Woman and Double Exile

Zita Karkla (University of Latvia)

Ilze Šķipsna was born in 1928 in Riga. She left Latvia preceeding the second Soviet occupation toward the end of 1944. After spending her ”displaced person” years in the refugee camp in Fischback, Germany, she left for the United States where most of her life was spent in Texas. Šķipsna died in January 1981. Her major prose texts include two volumes of short stories: Wind Flutes (1961) and The Middle Reality (1974) and two novels: Beyond the Seventh Bridge (1965) and Unpromised Lands (1970).

Double exile in Šķipsna’s prose is not only physical exile living outside one’s homeland, but also the marginalized situation in which a woman is found when living and writing in patriarchal society. Being at the periphery, women might have an experience of exile that differs from that of men.

Šķipsna, inscribing in culture woman’s experience in exile, subverts fixed meanings in favor of plurality and diversity. Women in Šķipsna’s prose are living in double exile, both outside their homeland and in patriarchal society. In this situation, Šķipsna looks at the process of searching for one’s true identity where the ambivalent mother – daughter relations, the notions of woman’s language, woman and silence and woman’s space are important as they talk about balancing one’s past and present in order to reach a continuity and to be able to live a full life in the present.

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