Literature and Culture

Károly Vajda

Ricarda Huch and Minka Czóbel: Reception History and Reception Ontology

Ricarda Huch and Minka Czóbel were not only contemporaries but beyond their literary achievement and groundbreaking role they shared a – to a certain extent – a common fate as well. With their long literary presence spanning over several eras they did not simply embodied archetypes of women writers and served as role models for other women writers but fertilized – word choice not accidental! – the soil for important contemporary male writers and poets such as Thomas Mann, Hermann Hesse, Rainer Maria Rilke, Dezső Kosztolányi, and Sándor Weöres. Countless similarities can be found in the reception history of Huch and Czóbel. While searching for possible reasons why they were relegated to the background, one cannot but ask what role did the following aspects have in the process: the aversion of society towards women writers as a role, the aloofness of a society patriarchic in its reflexes and associations, and the adaptive skills of male writers to smoothly and rapidly assimilate women writers’ distinctive tone and narrative concepts into their own literary tone and narrative thus outshining with their individual glimmering success the source of borrowing and the significance of the origin.

These questions can be extended and deepened from the point of view of literary theory. How does author- and artwork-centered perspective affect reception processes of predominant and, in most cases, male literature? How does this male literature blurs the origin of its borrowing and partial acquirement (even app- or expropriation) of the Huchian and Czóbelian narrative? Does a metaphysically determined poetology strengthen the mechanisms of prejudices, and if so, why? Is the distant attitude towards women writers a motive of the reception or the consequence of literary reflection after reception? From the perspective of the ontology of literature does literature as a reception process have a determining and determinable male or female character? How is the feminine character of literature influenced by becoming part, through adaptation, of a reception process belonging to literature not written by a woman writer? Does the gender identity of the receiver modify the process of reception, and if it does, how does it happen?

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