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The Formation of the Female Self in Czech Literature, 1890-1945

Pallasvuo, KI; (2014) The Formation of the Female Self in Czech Literature, 1890-1945. Masters thesis , UCL (University College London). Green open access

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At the end of the nineteenth century, a debate about women’s position in society and cultural life evolved in Czech press, periodicals and literature. Woman’s sense of self had long been dependent on her marital status and her family’s social standing, and it is this dependency that Czech authors of the Fin de siècle began to reevaluate in their works. In my thesis, I study the concept of the female self in works of five Czech authors from the 1890s to the 1940s, namely Růžena Svobodová, Božena Viková Kunětická, Božena Benešová, Vítězslav Nezval and Jarmila Svatá. I argue that in the hands of these authors, the concept of female self transforms from a self that relies on outer stories (society) to a self that is formed by inner stories (mind). The female self of Svobodová and Viková is based on creativity, procreation and a sense of emancipation from man. Thus, there are connections to be drawn between fiction and the Czech women’s movement. By the 1910s, however, in the fiction of Benešová, the freedom of the female self is revealed to be only apparent, and the formation of female selfhood relies heavily on the relationship between individual and community. Finally, in the 1930s and 40s, Nezval and Svatá portray a self that is at its strongest when looking inward and harnessing strengths from within, rather than attempting to fulfil the expectations of others.

Type: Thesis (Masters)
Title: The Formation of the Female Self in Czech Literature, 1890-1945
Open access status: An open access version is available from UCL Discovery
Language: English
URI: https://discovery.ucl.ac.uk/id/eprint/1429466
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