Tradition and subversion in Imre Kertész's work

Varga, Z. (2005) Tradition and subversion in Imre Kertész's work. Hungarian Studies, 18(2), pp. 223-233. (doi: 10.1556/HStud.18.2004.2.7)

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This article offers a complement to previous readings of Kertész's Nobel-Prize winning novel Fateless and his other significant fiction The Failure. While previous critics of these key texts often read Kertész's representation of the Holocaust experience in the context of twentieth century European history or that of his personal biography, and The Failure in the context of the author's own experience of authorship in Hungary in the 1970s and 1980s, this essay argues for his indebtedness to the classic nineteenth century topos and genre of the Bildungsroman and to the genre of Künstlerroman. While in Fateless, the structural elements of the plot redeploy the elements of the Bildungsroman, its fundamental indebtedness to the modernist concept of the contingency of plot, action and character, and the essentially postmodernist contention about the futility of knowledge display a degree of tension in the text. The Failure also explores the well-known late-nineteenth century topos of the Künstlerroman and the representation of literary authorship. Studies about Kertész's work, the article suggests, could be further expanded by exploring the relationship between Kertész's work and different Hungarian literary traditions.

Item Type:Articles
Keywords:Bildungsroman, Fateless, The Failure, Künstlerroman, contingency, subjectivity
Glasgow Author(s) Enlighten ID:Varga, Dr Zsuzsanna
Authors: Varga, Z.
Subjects:P Language and Literature > PN Literature (General) > PN0080 Criticism
College/School:College of Social Sciences > School of Social and Political Sciences > Central and East European Studies
Journal Name:Hungarian Studies
ISSN (Online):1588-2772
Published Online:22 July 2005

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