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Comparative Central European Culture

Comparative Central European Culture

Edited by Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek
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  • Book Info
    Comparative Central European Culture
    Book Description:

    This volume contains selected papers of conferences organized by the editor, Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek, in 1999 and 2000 in Canada and the U.S. on various topics of culture and literature in Central and East Europe.

    eISBN: 978-1-61249-017-5
    Subjects: Language & Literature, Sociology

Table of Contents

  1. Preface
    (pp. vii-xvi)
    Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek
  2. Comparative Cultural Studies and the Study of Central European Culture
    (pp. 1-32)
    Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek

    In this paper, I first present principles of comparative cultural studies followed by a brief description of the framework’s methodology, the systemic and empirical approach. This introduction of theory and method is then followed by a brief description of the notion of Central European culture—real or imagined—defined as an in-between peripheral and (post)colonial space. Next, with the objective to exemplify Central European culture as represented in literature, the framework and method are applied to samples of second-generation North American Jewish memoirs about Central Europe and to samples of contemporary Eastern German and Hungarian prose.

    Comparative cultural studies is...

  3. A Comparative View of Modernism in Central European Literature
    (pp. 33-50)
    Andrea Fábry

    According to Marshall Berman, “It is easy to imagine how a society committed to the free development of each and all might develop its own distinctive varieties of nihilism. Indeed, a communist nihilism might turn out to be far more explosive and disintegrative than its bourgeois precursor—though also more daring and original—because, while capitalism cuts the infinite possibilities of modern life with the limits of the bottom line, Marx’s communism might launch the liberated self into immense unknown human spaces with no limits at all” (114). Indeed, this particular brand of nihilism emerged during socialism in Central and...

  4. Radnóti, Celan, and Aesthetic Shifts in Central European Holocaust Poetry
    (pp. 51-70)
    Zsuzsanna Ozsváth

    Born in different times and different places, two great Central European poets of the Holocaust, Paul Celan and Miklós Radnóti, reveal essential commonalities that point toward a shared intellectual heritage. Striking among them is these poets’ belief in the power of poetry, which Radnóti viewed as capable of controlling, perhaps even transcending, the peril that threatened the world and which young Celan saw as able to create a bridge between present and past. These beliefs were, of course, common in the Western literary tradition—although they have rarely surfaced with such intensity. Radnóti identified with the Hungarian legacy of the...

  5. Comparative Central European Culture: Gender in Literature and Film
    (pp. 71-90)
    Anikó Imre

    There is a conspicuous similarity between the gender structures that underlie the modern nation and the modernist love lyric. Western feminist critics have begun to expose the transcendence and transparence associated with poetry in general, and the gender politics of the love lyric in particular. Rachel Blau DuPlessis identifies the cluster of foundational materials upon which the lyric is traditionally built. Gender is identified as the thread that weaves (through) them: Lyric, love, beauty, and woman—the four elements of the cluster—inseparably interweave and naturalize one another: “Certainly poetry is always to be beautiful, and in these beauties linked...

  6. Austroslovakism in Anton Hykischʹs Novel about Maria Theresa
    (pp. 91-102)
    Peter Petro

    Anton Hykisch is one of Slovakia’s major writers today. He was also the first ambassador of Slovakia to Canada after the country separated from Czechoslovakia in 1993. His early work, for example his book of travels in Canada—Canada Is Not a Joke(1968)—is an open confrontation with the world he glimpsed at the occasion of the Montréal Expo in 1967. His debut in the 1960s was connected to the flourishing of literary experimentation that one can designate as the “decade of experimentation,” possible by the gradual relaxation of the communist party’s control at the time (see Petro 1982–...

  7. Milan Kundera and the Identity of Central Europe
    (pp. 103-114)
    Hana Pichova

    The identity of Central Europe has been a problem for Milan Kundera since his adolescence; it gave birth to a theme with many variations,” writes Ladislav Matějka (127). The “variations” are reflected throughout Kundera’s public, private, political, and literary life; for example, in his involvement with the Communist Party, his expulsion from the party, his exile in 1975, his statements about the impact of Soviet culture on Czechoslovakia, his criticism of Dostoevsky, and his fictional accounts of recent historical events (for a recent volume on Kundera, see Petro). Kundera’s variations have provoked an array of responses from many prominent intellectuals...

  8. Politics, History, and Public Intellectuals in Central Europe after 1989
    (pp. 115-132)
    Katherine Arens

    In what follows, I trace a recent—and very old—configuration of Austria’s “imagined Europe”—to coin a term from Benedict Anderson’s “imagined communities”—yet far outside his project of nationalism. To do so, I begin with a hegemonic, if not entirely Austrian, voice joining Austria’s past with Europe’s future, Otto von Habsburg, heir to the throne of Austria-Hungary, and representative to the European Union (EU) who carries a German passport, to outline how he uses this map of Europe for the present political climate. After that, two particularly visible authors of “mixed” Austrian heritage, Peter Handke and Milo Dor,...

  9. Comparative Central European Culture: Austrian and Hungarian Cinema Today
    (pp. 133-148)
    Catherine Portuges

    More than a decade has passed since the fall of the Berlin Wall, offering a timely moment to reflect on the changes wrought by the postcommunist transition in Central European cinema. Alongside radical transformations arising from the privatization of film studios and funding structures for co-productions taking place in the European market are thematic concerns in current cinema that revisit aspects of Habsburg history, particularly the inscriptions of nation, gender, and generation. In the post-transition era, the cultures of cinema in the region have been proportionately—yet individually—affected in fundamental ways by the seismic upheavals of the past decade....

  10. Comparative Central European Culture: Displacements and Peripheralities
    (pp. 149-168)
    Roumiana Deltcheva

    A decade after the collapse of the Soviet empire, the cultural discourse of Central and East Europe continues to be permeated by one dominant metaphor of intent, namely the road to Europe. In spite of the differentiation of manifestations the symbol has undergone in the past ten years, the semantic scope encompasses a common perception of peripherality, marginality, isolation, outsidedness. Geographically within Europe, yet culturally excluded from it, the countries of Central and East Europe are still in a process of defining their identity based on a double binary opposition: by consciously differentiating themselves from the former center of Soviet...

  11. Central Europe, Jewish Family History, and Sunshine
    (pp. 169-188)
    Susan Rubin Suleiman

    An English-language film with an almost exclusively Anglo-American cast, produced in Canada, filmed in Hungary, with a screenplay co-written by an American playwright and a Hungarian director who is best known in North America for an Oscar-winning film in German (Mephisto, 1981), István Szabó’sSunshineis nothing if not transnational.

    Released in Canada in 1999 and in Europe and the United States in Spring 2000,Sunshinewas produced by Canadian-Hungarian producer Robert Lantos. The screenplay is by Szabó and Israel Horowitz, based on an original story by Szabó; the film’s stars are Ralph Fiennes, Rosemary Harris, Jennifer Ehle, and William...

  12. Selected Bibliography for the Study of Central European Culture
    (pp. 189-206)
    Steven Tötösy de Zepetnek