The Hag and the Egg
Slavic Mythologies of Old Age as Reflected in Dubravka Ugrešić's Novel Baba Yaga Laid an Egg
In contemporary fiction, one can observe an increasing interest in the experience of aging: old or aging characters are no longer mere objects of description, but acquire “flesh and voice” (Irina Savkina), which also holds true for Slavic literatures. This paper focuses on Dubravka Ugrešić's Croatian novel Baba Yaga Laid an Egg (Baba Jaga je snela jaje, 2007) that likewise sets out to narrate from “the foreign country of old age.” Ugrešić's novel consists of three parts; this “triptych” (Elizabeth Bachner) opens up three perspectives on the aging female body that, however, are united through the mythical Slavic witch figure Baba Yaga. The first part depicts, with clear autobiographical references, a difficult mother-daughter relationship against the background of aging, illness and death. The second part relates a fairytale-like journey of three old “hags” to a post‐communist spa. The third part, finally, provides an interpretation of the first two: it develops a “babayagology” (babajagologija) that deconstructs not only the myth of Baba Yaga, but concurrently all kinds of myths about old age and aging. This paper focuses on how Ugrešić's text narrates and enacts aging, and female aging in particular, thereby unmasking it as a social construct and as a myth that can, and must be, demythologized.