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Title: The idea of Europe in world literature from the Eastern and Western peripheries
Author: Marshall, Barbara Alexandra
ISNI:       0000 0004 7427 3036
Awarding Body: University of Exeter
Current Institution: University of Exeter
Date of Award: 2018
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While a vast range of works have been written on European identity from historical, cultural, political, sociological, and economic points of view, I am attempting to turn the discourse around and investigate the complex notion of European identity that forms the basis of personal, collective and societal identities represented in literature and a European space imagined and depicted differently by various writers. My thesis explores the diverse interpretations of Europe by creating and investigating a literary dialogue between some works in Hungarian and British contemporary literature and so, in a generalized sense, in some aspects between the Eastern and Western peripheries of Europe. The literary interpretation of Europe and European identity is a neglected research area, just as is the literary dialogue between the Western and the Eastern parts of the European Union. Due to this lack of exemplary methodological routes, the thesis’s comparative nature and the fact that it deals with the cultural positions and literary capitals of two very unequal countries, the methodological background is provided by world literary approaches. Widening the time-scale from the most recent works to ones published in the 1990’s and some even before the fall of the Iron Curtain presented the opportunity for analysing the dynamic character of British and Hungarian perceptions and the changing focus on prevalent themes. Imre Kertész (1929-2016) was primarily concerned by the formulation and articulation of new ethical and philosophical values for Europe emerging on the ethical zero ground of the Holocaust and focused on a detached, theoretical observation of the individual. Brian Aldiss (1925-2017) was more interested in the active and often contradictory aspects of identity and the practical moral dilemmas after the Wars in twentieth-century Europe. Marina Lewycka’s (1946-) novels deal with the European aspects of migration concerning the different generations and the gender dimensions of the Europe concept. László Végel (1941-) writes about the utopia of Europe as a multi-ethnic unity and explores the minority identity in relation to the migrant existence. Tim Parks (1954-) approaches the issues of fate and destiny, and their relevance to European politics and personal choices, while also investigating the possibility of linguistic schizophrenia. Gábor Németh’s (1956-) novels investigate the symbolism inherent in European Jewish identity and cosmopolitanism and the current attitudes on populism and anti-immigration. The perspective and the focus from which the novels are analysed have been influenced by present events, and the political, social and cultural atmosphere of both countries and the EU. I have been trying to spot signs which might have forecast the disillusionment and hostility felt towards the European dream by the majority of both populations. The disappointment over the dissolving vision of a united Europe has emerged as an overall theme connecting the writers’ works; however, the pressing want of free-spirits, the Nietzschean Good Europeans, has also been persistent.
Supervisor: Gagnier, Regenia ; Fothergill, Anthony Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID:  DOI: Not available
Keywords: world literature ; Europe ; contemporary ; periphery