TitleThe poetics of subversion
NameBeall, Joshua Patrick (author), Flieger, Jerry Aline (chair), Sass, Louis A. (internal member), Walker, Janet (internal member), Sywenky, Irene (outside member), Rutgers University, Graduate School - New Brunswick,
Irony in literature,
Central European literature--20th century
DescriptionThe literatures of Central Europe's small countries were seriously engaged in the national project during the nineteenth century, standardizing and exemplifying both the national language and national heroes. However, the breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire in 1918 produced a new ironic consciousness in the literatures of the newly-independent Central European nations. Surprisingly, at a time when the peoples of Central Europe achieved national self-determination, their literatures began using irony to call nation and nationalism into question. Novels such as Jaroslav Hašek's The Good Soldier Švejk, Robert Musil's The Man without Qualities, Witold Gombrowicz's Trans-Atlantyk, and Milan Kundera's The Book of Laughter and Forgetting criticize the national project, its cultural manifestations, and its effect on modern subjectivity. The similarities between these novels are obscured by the multiple historical changes that swept through Central Europe throughout the twentieth century. The breakup of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the independence of Czechoslovakia and Poland in 1918 was followed a generation later first by the Nazi invasion of these countries, and then the rise of Communism less than a decade later. Cold War geopolitics redrew the map of Europe, grouping Communist countries in "Eastern" Europe while Austria, now a small nation itself, remained in the West. The critical result of this temporally limited topography is a conspicuous absence of comparative scholarship engaging these authors. Despite this critical lacuna, the influence of the cultural development shared by German-speaking Austria and its Slavic neighbors on Central European poetics is undeniable. These novels are products not only of the modernist impulse as a whole but also of the twentieth-century Central European Zeitgeist. This dissertation develops a theory of irony in order to examine the structure of subversion common to all four of the novels in this study and then shows how irony structures the text's interaction with the reader as a political subject and implicates the reader in a network of multivalent textual desire that subverts political hegemony, nationalism, and literary genre convention.
NoteIncludes bibliographical references
Noteby Joshua Patrick Beall
CollectionGraduate School - New Brunswick Electronic Theses and Dissertations
Organization NameRutgers, The State University of New Jersey
RightsThe author owns the copyright to this work.