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Title: Reading the city : Prague in Czech and Czech-German narrative fiction since 1989
Author: Duggan, Lucy
ISNI:       0000 0004 6498 2023
Awarding Body: University of Oxford
Current Institution: University of Oxford
Date of Award: 2016
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In the course of its history, Prague has been the site of many significant cultural confrontations and conversations. From the medieval chronicle of Cosmas to the work of contemporary writers, the city has taken shape in literature as a multivalent space where identities are constructed and questioned. The evolution of Prague's literary significance has taken place in an intercultural context: both Czech-speaking and German-speaking writers have engaged with the city and its past, and their texts have interacted with each other. The city has played a central part in many collective narratives in which myth, history and literature intertwine. Looking at contemporary prose fiction written in both Czech and German, this thesis explores continuities and contrasts in the literary roles played by Prague. It analyses two German-speaking emigrant authors, Libuše Moníková (1945-1998) and Jan Faktor (1951- ), viewing them alongside three Czech writers, Jáchym Topol (1962- ), Daniela Hodrová (1946- ), and Michal Ajvaz (1949- ). Through close readings of eight texts, the thesis approaches the imagined city from four angles. It discusses how contemporary authors portray the search for meaning in the city by imagining Prague as two contrasting realms (the 'real' city and the 'other' city), how the discontinuities of the city are reflected by the fragmentation of the authorial stance, how these authors assemble new Prague myths from the vestiges of older topoi, and how they confront the contradictory urges to uphold the boundaries of the city and to transgress them. In post-1989 Prague, authors explore the unstable spaces between continuity and discontinuity, constructing an authorial ethos in these areas of tension.
Supervisor: Kohl, Katrin ; Zusi, Peter Sponsor: Arts and Humanities Research Council ; Jenkins Memorial Fund ; Charterhouse European Bursary
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: Collective memory and literature ; Czech literature--20th century--History and criticism ; Czech literature--21st century--History and criticism ; German literature--20th century--History and criticism ; German literature--21st century--History and criticism ; Cities and towns in literature ; Prague (Czech Republic)--In literature