The Novel at the End of an Era Cover Image

Román o konci jedné epochy
The Novel at the End of an Era

Author(s): Erik Gilk
Subject(s): Literary Texts
Published by: Ústav pro českou literaturu Akademie věd České republiky
Keywords: Fuks Ladislav; Vévodkyně a kuchařka

Summary/Abstract: This essay is concerned with the largest and last finished work by the Czech novelist Ladislav Fuks (1923–1994), Vévodkyně a kuchařka (The Duchess and the Cook, 1983). The author seeks to interpret the universe of the presented fictitious world and to name the constant features of Fuks’s style that appear in the novel, which is the culmination of Fuks’s twenty‑year literary career, in a concentrated form. First of all, the essay considers Fuks’s motivation in selecting this historical material, which is almost unique in Fuks’s works. It then considers the structure of the motifs in the novel, Fuks’s trickster approach and his playing with the reader, which makes this novel much like a work of postmodern literature. The focus of the essay, however, is the Duchess Sofie, the protagonist, who is described in this essay as a total character because she contains the essence of the atmosphere of the Austro‑Hungarian Monarchy in the late nineteenth century, which the novel aptly captures. By her disposition and in particular her hypertrophied self‑reflection, however, the protagonist goes beyond the end of the great era and is untypical of the decaying world of the aristocracy. Connected to her character is the philosophically considered topic of the novel, the transience of human life and the question of the meaning of life. This question runs as a leitmotif through the whole novel and ensures the unity of its complicated semantic fabric.

  • Issue Year: 59/2011
  • Issue No: 4
  • Page Range: 547-571
  • Page Count: 25
  • Language: Czech