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The prose fiction and polemics of Karel Matej Capek-Chod.

Hayes, Kathleen Miriam; (1997) The prose fiction and polemics of Karel Matej Capek-Chod. Doctoral thesis (Ph.D), UCL (University College London). Green open access

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K. M. Capek-Chod (1860-1927) had a well-established reputation as a journalist and caustic polemicist before laudatory reviews of his third novel, Kašpar Lén mstitel (1908) secured him recognition as a major writer. His contemporaries, however, often criticized his works as the pessimistic outbursts of a cynic, which they were not. The thesis is divided into two parts: the first treats his belleslettres; the second, his polemics. In the Introduction, I consider the shortcomings of critical assessments of his works and suggest that they can best be understood as belonging to the tradition of literature of the grotesque. In Chapter 1, I summarize theories of the grotesque and indicate how aspects of Capek-Chod's fiction (narrative structure, characters, images and situations) , can be interpreted in this light. In the subsequent chapters, I analyse major themes in his fiction: depictions of science, art and artists; of woman; and of the Jews. I indicate in what respect his treatment of these themes is unconventional and contributes to the construction of the grotesque world of his fiction. The second part of the thesis is subdivided into two sections: in the first, I treat his polemics concerning art exhibitions and contemporary events prior to the Great War. These polemics discuss the role of the critic and artist, and the relation between art and politics in fin-de-siècle culture. The second section treats polemics between Capek-Chod and critics of his fiction throughout his writing career. I demonstrate that he was highly sensitive to critics and that even when positive reviews appeared, any remark therein that he regarded as false inspired 'sarcastic' fulmination. I ascertain that as a polemicist Capek-Chod was a nationalist writer, while nationalism is barely evident at all in his bellelettres, which analyse ironically the conflict between man's ideals and reality.

Type: Thesis (Doctoral)
Qualification: Ph.D
Title: The prose fiction and polemics of Karel Matej Capek-Chod.
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
Additional information: Thesis digitised by ProQuest.
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/10103304
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