The construction of contemporary reality in selected works of Czech fiction: Emil Hakl and Jan Balabán

Perinova, Jitka (2015) The construction of contemporary reality in selected works of Czech fiction: Emil Hakl and Jan Balabán. PhD thesis, University of Glasgow.

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At the beginning of the 1990’s, after a period of momentary confusion, when Czech literature seems to have temporarily lost its way in the newly establishing democratic society which emerged after the fall of communism a number of rather interesting and important writers appeared. Holding the memories of recent communist past and experiencing the historical turning point when Czech society rejoined the capitalist West, they produced an image of cultural and political initiation. They bore witness to the arrival of chaos, associated with regime change, to a crisis of personal values and a search for new ways of existence. This thesis analyzes the literary work of two contemporary Czech writers, Emil Hakl and Jan Balabán. It explores the way the reality of their narratives is shaped. It investigates the reality these narratives reflect, the reality these narratives create and the reality that the reader of these narratives re-creates on the basis of his/her knowledge of the world. The thesis considers the value judgments which are being made by Czech society through its contemporary literature about its post-communist present. The thesis also examines the question to what extent these narratives construct an image of contemporary Czech society. The thesis deals with the complete fiction written by Emil Hakl (b. 1958) and Jan Balabán (1961-2010), two popular and critically acclaimed Czech writers. The first part of the thesis analyzes Hakl’s fiction, in particular his debut Konec světa (The End of the World), a work which opens the world of Jan Beneš (Hakl’s real name), the narrating character of this text and also the narrating character of almost all the other texts written by Emil Hakl. The second part of the thesis focuses on the constructed and deconstructed world of Jan Balabán’s fiction. It deals with themes and motifs that appear and re-appear in the lives of Balabán’s male and female characters and explores individual characters whose lives have been shaped by their own personal breakdowns as well as by changes in the social and political conditions of the external world. The thesis analyzes Hakl’s and Balabán’s narratives from a narratological point of view. The thesis uses the semiotic and narratological approach (H. Porter Abbott, Mieke Bal, Seymour Chatman, Tomáš Kubíček and Gerald Prince), the post-structuralist approach (Roland Barthes, Jacques Derrida, Julia Kristeva), the psychoanalytical approach (Jacques Lacan, Slavoj Žižek), the postmodern (Steven Connor), the theories dealing with the typology and the mythology of the novel and the city (Daniela Hodrová), the cultural approach (John Storey) and the approach of New Historicism (Louis A. Montrose, Hayden White).

Item Type: Thesis (PhD)
Qualification Level: Doctoral
Keywords: Contemporary Czech fiction, Czech, Emil Hakl, Jan Balabán, autobiographical fiction, contemporary Czech society, Czech post-communist society, Czech society in literature, postmodern literature, pro-Western society
Subjects: P Language and Literature > PG Slavic, Baltic, Albanian languages and literature
Colleges/Schools: College of Arts
Supervisor's Name: Culik, Dr. Jan and Bates, Dr. John
Date of Award: 2015
Depositing User: Miss Jitka Perinova
Unique ID: glathesis:2015-5987
Copyright: Copyright of this thesis is held by the author.
Date Deposited: 16 Mar 2015 09:42
Last Modified: 24 Mar 2015 10:49

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