Narratives of a Witness: Testimony and Polemic in the Work of Eva Kantůrková Cover Image
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Narratives of a Witness: Testimony and Polemic in the Work of Eva Kantůrková
Narratives of a Witness: Testimony and Polemic in the Work of Eva Kantůrková

Author(s): Marlowe Miller
Subject(s): Gender Studies, Czech Literature
Published by: Editura Universităţii din Bucureşti
Keywords: Czech dissident identity; Jiřina Šiklova;
Summary/Abstract: Entwined within the totalitarian system, defined by it through their opposition, Czech dissidents gained what Vaclav Havel has called the power of ‘living in truth’. In a system that was predicated on erasing the individual in the service of the whole and that was bound together by lies and ideology, the power of the dissident was his or her individual ethical action. The ‘definitional others’ that haunted the Soviet state, dissident writers were the ‘conscience of the nation’, to quote a phrase uttered by Jaroslav Seifert in 1956. The loss of these defining boundaries has been difficult for many in the dissident community. Few who lived through the twenty-plus years of cultural deepfreeze known as ‘Normalization’ can escape the Manichean polarities it facilitated. As a result of this and of the profound change that Verdery describes, many Czechs cling to an ‘us against them’ logic as they attempt to understand the new socio-political scene. Thus, many scholars have noted a rise in nationalism in post-socialist countries. As István Rév has argued, the rise in nationalism is a direct result of a collective desire to forget the recent past and place responsibility for it elsewhere: ‘If communism was the deed of outsiders, then the decades of communism could not be part of national history’ (168-69). Šiklova observes that most people cannot endure the complexity of the ‘meaningless present’ and thus they seek new dichotomies.

  • Page Range: 109-126
  • Page Count: 18
  • Publication Year: 2005
  • Language: English