• Marinko Lazzarich


The fact that many famous denizens of Rijeka belong to different nationalities confirms this city’s historic multicultural image. The life story of Erik Vio (1910-1996), renowned surgeon of international reputation, reflects the fate of many displaced residents of Rijeka who left to live in exile. After graduating in Rome, Vio worked as a medical doctor in Hong Kong for almost three decades. The question is weather a surgeon from Rijeka chose to live in Hong Kong because it reminded him of his hometown? The author finds the root of this thesis in Vio’s novel The Pathways of Freedom (˝Irwege der Freiheit˝, Köln 1978), a particular medical-philosophic diagnosis of the contemporary civilization’s spiritual state. Rare fragments dedicated to Rijeka confirm Vio’s actual detachment; faced with his own identity, but also with the others’ with whom he shared his living space, a surgeon from Rijeka became a true citizen of the world and at the same time a stateless person with no roots of his own. Through the projection of Hong Kong one can detect the novel’s identification backbone: writer’s provocation of the ideological perspective on socio-cultural relations. By engaging in the interpretation of Vio’s The Pathways of Freedom the author seeks to dissect a sociological dimension of descriptions of dual identities in border space. This leads to the issue of understanding and tolerance toward the others.

Key words: the literature of the border; history; immigration topics; repressed identity; Erik Vio.