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

Der absentierte Mann

Zur figurativen Dominanz des Weiblichen in der Vertreibungsliteratur (Denemarková, Katalpa, Tučková)

From the book Zwischen nationalen und transnationalen Erinnerungsnarrativen in Zentraleuropa

  • Alfrun Kliems

Zur figurativen Dominanz des Weiblichen in der Vertreibungsliteratur (Denemarková, Katalpa, Tučková)



The essay discusses the narrative of the absent man in recent Central European literature of expulsion (“Vertreibungsliteratur”), thus reflecting the striking figurative dominance of the female. The novels of Radka Denemarkova, Jakuba Katalpa, and Kateřina Tučkova depict the expulsion of Germans from Czechoslovakia after 1945. Across historical ruptures, they employ similar narrative figures reflecting a discomfort with gender constellations in representations of expulsion until 1989. Male figures were mostly shaped territorially as heroic settlers and colonial rulers. Meanwhile, Denemarkova, Katalpa, and Tučkova represent them as being set apart or forcibly removed from their stories. They are figures on the stories’ margins: mute victims, vanished persons, missing family members, dead men. I refer to this narrative pattern as the absent man. It serves as a dominant reference of female survival and frames conflicting ideas of nationalism and (post)socialism, of family and collective memory. More specifically, the novels discriminate in their treatment of the well-known, dominant chord of male figures as perpetrators, occupiers, and invaders. Altogether, their aesthetic strategies seem to both revalue and, at the same time, mystify some motifs of the expulsion. Indeed, they use the topos of pregnancy which is contaminated with betrayal and guilt. Envisaging expulsion, death, and pregnancy, their female characters create matrilineal communities of narration, and preserve (or refuse) home as a biological identity. The essay attempts to fix some aspects of this interplay by using concepts of latency, haunting memory, and reproductive future.

© 2020 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Munich/Boston
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