2009 | 57 | 2 | 172-195
Article title

Jak se stát socialistickým realistou: přepracované vydání sebe sama

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Many Czech writers whose first books were published during the First Republic (1918-38) revised them considerably for re-edition after the Communist takeover of 1948. Using examples of works by Vasek Kana (real name Stanislav Rada, 1905-1985), T. Svatopluk (real name Svatopluk Turek, 1900-1972), and Geza Vcelicka (real name Antonin Eduard Vcelicka, 1901-1966), and, in passing, also works by Marie Majerova (1882-1967) and Vitezslav Nezval (1900-1958), the author gives examples of the most striking types of changes and, on the basis of them, endeavours to characterize the literary norms of the 1950s. The revising of early novels is not, he argues, a forced reaction to the political changes or evidence of state-censorship or self-censorship under pressure from the totalitarian regime. Rather he sees it as a particular kind of strategy employed by an author to try and meet current literary norms and to make one's mark in the field of literature. In terms of his approach the author of the article starts from the sociological theory of action by Pierre Bourdieu. He demonstrates the striking changes that the language of the revised works underwent, moving in the 1950s towards literariness. (The author discusses this 'linguistic purism', putting into the broader context of contemporaneous theories of language culture.) The traits of the characters were also distinctly revised to remove any ambiguity - workers were portrayed as positive, capitalists as negative. The third area that underwent revision in the works considered here was the depiction of the human body. The author recapitulates the opinions of contemporaneous literary critics like A. A. Zhdanov (1896-1948), Zdenek Nejedly (1878-1962), Ladislav Stoll (1902-1981), and Jiri Taufer (1911-1986), and concludes that the literary norms of the 1950s are marked by prudery. That is evinced by the new, revised editions of these authors' earlier works, in which sexuality and overly naturalistic depiction have been systematically suppressed and, by contrast passages about the labour movement and the Czechoslovak Communist Party in the First Republic have been expanded. The upshot of the changes was, according to the author, that the fictional worlds of the revised novels now have a clearly teleological perspective. Everything that took place in it, represented one of the steps on the obligatory road to the Socialist present. The original reportage style, endeavouring to evoke authenticity, was in the 1950s historicized (and therefore objectivized) and harmonized with the current official interpretation of pre-war history. The revisions of these works led to a fundamental shift, which, at the genre level, can be called 'journalistic prose fiction'. It became an ideological variant of the historical novel.
  • Petr Samal, Ceska literatura, redakce, Ustav pro ceskou literaturu AV CR, v.v.i., Na Florenci 3, 110 00 Praha 1, Czech Republic
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