From a Novel about Writing to a Novel Broadcast Live: The Role and Form of the Reader in Two Self-reflexive Novels by Michal Viewegh Cover Image

Od románu o psaní k románu v přímém přenosu. Role a podoba čtenáře ve dvou sebereflexivníxh románech Michala Viewegha
From a Novel about Writing to a Novel Broadcast Live: The Role and Form of the Reader in Two Self-reflexive Novels by Michal Viewegh

Author(s): Alena Přibáňová
Subject(s): Literary Texts
Published by: Ústav pro českou literaturu Akademie věd České republiky
Keywords: Viewegh; Michal

Summary/Abstract: The article is concerned with the construction of the reader and narrative strategy in the early works of Michal Viewegh (b. 1962). It analyzes in particular two of his novels, Výchova dívek v Čechách (1994, English translation: Bringing Up Girls in Bohemia, 1996) and Účastníci zájezdu (Trippers, 1996), where communication with the reader is an element that fundamentally determines the form of the text. Both novels are based on the model of “writing about writing,” particularly the theme of problems faced by an author when constructing a work and the theme of his credibility. By contrast, the characters become actants in a series of template-based scenes illustrating the course (and pitfalls) of making topical belles-lettres. The main source of the literary game with the reader becomes a commentary on the tension between the author’s absolute power over the text and the assumed demands of the reader, in which a discrepancy emerges between the thematicized reader, which the author of the text limits, and the implied reader, towards which the novels head, owing to their structural demands. The author’s “credibility,” in the sense of the verifiability of events in the text by the reader’s turning to extratextual personal experience, is presented here as a measure of the value of the literary text: the literary message in Viewegh’s works is not credible if it is not guaranteed by something in extratextual reality. Viewegh does not seek to create an independent space for the text, but chooses, as the chief communication link between the implied author and the reader, events of extratextual reality, topical in the period the text was written. These events have an authenticating function. Understanding the text is therefore partly dependent on knowledge of often marginal details of social reality at the time it was written (including knowledge of the personal life of the novelist, who after the success of Báječná leta pod psa became well known to the public and was closely observed by the mass media). It is precisely the extent of the author’s self-presentation in the text in connection with the dependence of the world of Viewegh’s fiction on extratextual context, dependent on the world of the mass media and the reader’s knowledge of popular magazines (and often also the “red-top” press), which has earned him highly critical reviews. It is fair to say, however, that in Výchova dívek v Čechách and Účastníci zájezdu Viewegh has broken through a barrier related to the “Ich” in the text, and has, with his autostylizing game, expanded the realm of the possible in literature.

  • Issue Year: 55/2007
  • Issue No: 4
  • Page Range: 453-478
  • Page Count: 26
  • Language: Czech