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Gendered Narrative Subjectivity

Some Hungarian and American Women Writers

Edit Zsadányi

This book wants to make Hungarian women writers accessible to an English-speaking public and presents interpretations of Hungarian and American literary texts by writers such as Margit Kaffka, Anna Lesznai, Jolán Földes, Zsuzsa Rakovszky, Agáta Gordon, Virág Erdős, Zsuzsa Forgács, Alaine Polcz, Gertrude Stein, Kathy Acker and Jhumpa Lahiri. In literary narratives it is possible to represent female political interests in a decentered narrative subjectivity. The book illustrates that literary narratives readily accept the contradictory nature of identity issues and create an exciting and complex network of articulating female voices.

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Introduction

Extract

This book is about contradictions, or rather the positive possibilities arising from contradictions, and its purpose is to show how contradictions between postmod- ern and feminist conceptions of the subject – that have been debated since the 1980’s – do not manifest themselves in the works of women writers as mutually exclusive ideologies. On the contrary, contradictions between the united feminist and the disunited postmodernist concepts of subjectivity are an important, excit- ing and constructive part of narrative feminine identities. The book contains comparative and intercultural interpretations of Hungar- ian and American literary texts by female writers and adopts an intercultural perspective to examine the issue of representing feminine identities in decen- tered narrative constructions. The main thesis of my book is that in literary narrative it is possible to represent female political interest (that presupposes a strong and united concept of subjectivity) in a decentered narrative subjectivity. In other words, the theoretical contradiction between maintaining centered and decentered concepts of subjectivity at the same time functions as a constructive element (and not a logical contradiction) in certain narratives written by women writers. Based on this theoretical contradiction, I will illustrate that literary nar- ratives readily accept the contradictory nature of identity issues and create an exciting and complex network of articulating female voices. Apart from the theoretical and narratological argumentation, the book also responds to the growing interest in Hungarian writers in the English-speaking world. Works of major Hungarian novelists, such as Péter Esterházy, László Krasznahorkai, Péter...

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