Literature and Culture

Erika Kapus

The Voice of the Female Body in 20th Century Women’s Literature

Traumatic experience becomes expressible only if necessary language comes into existence. The development of this language, the way that literary texts create narratives of traumatic events in course of the 20th century can be also tracked in the writings of women writers (e.g. the unpublished diary of Minka Czóbel, Ágnes Zsolt’s Éva lányom, Lilla Ecséri’s diary, Alaine Polcz’s Asszony a fronton, Ilona Kosztolányiné Harmos’ Tüzes cipőben). It is of great importance that we pay attention to this awakening voice and read attentively the texts that articulate the traumas of women’s lives.

I will analyze the self-reflexive texts of these women writers from a threefold point of view, connecting the theoretical-analytical methods of gender research, canon theory and trauma studies. We need to deal with the voice of the female body which is arising in front of us during the 20th century, creating a new language of female desires, pains and pleasures. Our literary canon needs the utterance of women bodies suffering from male violence, enjoying a male body or wishing another woman because this voice (including the voice of lesbian-like authors and heroines) is missing from our literary standards. I would like to initiate texts to the discourse that illustrates the birth of the trauma language, language of/about female body which therefore can enrich literary criticism in a relevant way.


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