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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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Chapter 6: Detailed Description as Subjectivity Formation: Jhumpa Lahiri’s "The Namesake" and Jolán Földes’ "The Street of the Fishing Cat"

Extract

119 Chapter 6: Detailed Description as Subjectivity Formation: Jhumpa Lahiri’s The Namesake and Jolán Földes’ The Street of the Fishing Cat Approaching Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel The Namesake as a Hungarian reader, re- veals that translation is the most efficient way to understand different cultures. Translation functions as mediator between languages; as communicating the sig- nificance of customs, family rituals and dress codes between different cultures. Though the novel gives account of an entirely exotic culture to the Hungarian eye, it is a very familiar story to us: familiar with regard to the mode of storytell- ing as well as to some of the narrated events. In this chapter, I will discuss Jhumpa Lahiri’s novel The Namesake focusing on the issue of narrative identity. Postmodern feminism and narrative theories enable us to see subjectivity as a multiple and contradictory site. I intend to il- lustrate that this novel recalls and recycles the figure of the omnipotent narra- tor, which was employed by realist fiction. The narrative mode of the Russian author, Nikolai Gogol is evoked and the reader is invited to comprehend The Namesake in the intertextual context of his prose fiction. The immigration plot scenario tells the story of two generations in contrast to the realist novels that concentrated basically on the life-time of one main character. I will illustrate that in The Namesake, similarly to the listing of the accessories in Alaine Polcz’s case, the seemingly irrelevant details have relevance. In this novel they play important roles...

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