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BY-NC-ND 4.0 license Open Access Published by De Gruyter 2021

Erbe der Dissidenz in der literarischen Repräsentation der ,Vertreibung‘?

Jiří Kratochvils Roman Inmitten der Nacht Gesang im Kontext

From the book Zwischen nationalen und transnationalen Erinnerungsnarrativen in Zentraleuropa

  • Marek Nekula

Jiří Kratochvils Roman Inmitten der Nacht Gesang im Kontext



The paper deals with the literary representation of the expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia after World War II as it is portrayed in Jiři Kratochvil’s novel Singing in the Middle of the Night, published in samizdat before 1989 and by Atlantis publishing house after 1989. On the one hand, the study views the novel in its broader context by considering discussions in the dissident and exile sphere which were triggered by the controversial theses formulated by Danubius (Jan Mlynarik) in 1978. On the other, it examines Kratochvil’s specific literary language as it critically recalls the expulsion of Germans and its justification by the idea of collective guilt. Kratochvil both challenges the concept of collective identity, on which collective guilt is based, by using hybrid figures and questions the role of the German perpetrator by using the figure of the female victim (ethnos is “turned off” by female gender). The paper further argues that female authors commemorating the end of World War II and the expulsion of Germans four generations later (Radka Denemarkova, Kateřina Tučkova etc.) employ the same or very similar literary language, thus continuing Kratochvil’s tradition. There is, however, a distinct difference between them and Kratochvil. Kratochvil’s self-critical essayistic and literary commemoration of the expulsion was highly controversial for readers of the late 1980s and the early 1990s, whereas 20 years later, a text using the same language can become a mainstream collective text with wide-spread readership. The tradition of self-critical remembrance of the expulsion could, of course be seen on a continuum, extending beyond official literature before 1989.

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