Literature and Culture

Borbála Györe

Narratives of Women’s Trauma in the Prose of Erzsébet Galgóczi

Erzsébet Galgóczi (1930–1989) was an outspoken writer and scriptwriter banned from publication in the 1950’s and 1960’s because of criticizing the regime; then becoming a popular author in the next two decades, and yet again disappearing from literary criticism after the change of regime in 1989. However, contemporary lesbian writers such as Agáta Gordon chose her as their literary predecessor resulting in a Galgóczi-cult in the lesbian intelligentsia. Regarding feminist criticism and canon building in Hungary, she is considered to be an outstandingly important figure since she uses a Socialist Realist poetics of prose to speak about the defenseless woman (and lesbian) identity/body exposed to power. My research is not based upon biographical analyses but the texts themselves, using an interpretation relying on Michel Foucault’s and Wolfgang Ernst’s cultural archeology, that is: looking for signs in the texts revealing contemporary society’s practices and representation of identity, gender and sexuality. This approach is linked to trauma theory, examining the narrative representation of women’s experience/trauma as in the case of Galgóczi’s most important book, Törvényen belül [Within the Law] (1980): the lesbian main character’s sufferings and death is presented and explored in a mosaic structured narration. It is inevitable to disclose connections between trauma and history, that is: body and politics (biopolitics) throughout the analyses.

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