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Hlaváček and Kafka
dc.contributor.authorStewart, Neil
dc.publisherUniverzita Karlova, Filozofická fakultacs
dc.subjectFranz Kafkacs
dc.subjectKarel Hlaváčekcs
dc.subjectpražská modernacs
dc.titleHlaváček a Kafkacs
dc.typeVědecký článekcs
dc.title.translatedHlaváček and Kafkacs
uk.abstract.enThe following text represents a chapter taken from my 2019 monograph on the journal Moderní revue (Modern Review), which was published in Prague between 1894 and 1925 and significantly contributed to the modernisation of Czech culture at that time. Moderní revue strove to overcome the narrow nationalist focus and ethnic segregation that had characterised so much 19th-century literature and art in Bohemia. The editors specifically sought to acquaint their readership with the Decadent trend then en vogue in Western Europe and one of the journal’s most important contributors, the poet and graphic artist Karel Hlaváček (1874–1898), has indeed been variously described as a typical representative of that particular brand of Modernism. My close reading of his prose poem Subtilnost smutku (‘The Subtlety of Sadness’, 1896), where a captive ‘cretin’ is introduced whose extremely refined sensibility has him metaphorically degenerate into a spider, is an attempt to establish in concrete detail what actually is Decadent about Hlaváček’s writing, how Decadence in literature may be defined in general terms, and what the application of such a label may tell us about a given text and its place in literary history. In order to do so, I contrast this piece with Franz Kafka’s classic story Die Verwandlung (‘The Metamorphosis’, 1912), a thematically comparable work that was written just sixteen years later, also in Prague, but one that cannot be plausibly described as Decadent. In my analysis, I also draw on a famous essay by the French authors Gilles Deleuze and Félix Guattari, who in 1975 presented Kafka and his specific milieu as an example of what they called ‘littérature mineure’ (minor literature). The assumptions of the two postmodernist critics, controversial and partly outdated as they may be, provide us with some methodologically useful cues, most importantly the systematic connection established by them between the historical-cultural context of turn-of-the-century Prague and specific uses of language. In the end, Hlaváček thus emerges from the comparison as a Decadent writer not so much because of his predilection for certain subjects and motifs (many of which are also to be found in Kafka), but because he has a way of taking things literally, of employing and arranging words, most notably his beloved Gallicisms, as if they were not just arbitrary, symbolic referents, but concrete collector’s items: separate and precious objects on public display.cs
dcterms.isPartOf.nameSlovo a smyslcs

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