Borders and Their Myths: Bastions of Faith and Nation
The reviewer examines a recent anthology on the transformations of the antemurale myth in the borderlands of Eastern Europe during the age of nationalism. Edited by Lilya Berezhnaya and Heide Kein-Kircher, the volume contains thirteen essays by fourteen international authors. After briefly defining the antemurale myth, its most famous version (the antemurale christianitatis), and the ongoing relevance of the subject, the reviewer discusses the structure of the book and the content of the essays. Praise is offered to the wide number of cases analysed, the decision to open the collection with a contextual essay on the fifteenth-century history of the myth and to close it with discussions about the modern situation, the collective and individual strength of the essays, and the inclusion of numerous pieces discussing the material dimension of the myth and its spread (alongside more traditional evaluations of its discursive formulation). Criticism is largely directed at the peculiar structuring of Parts II and III, which produces a rather confused impression on the reader. On the whole, however, the book is heartily recommended, along with the hope that future scholarship will apply its approach to other geographical areas.