Postmodernism and its Histories: Representations of the Past in Contemporary Hungarian Fiction
This essay will examine one aspect of the concept of postmodernism in the context of contemporary Hungarian prose fiction. My use of the term ‘postmodernism’ is at once an act of bad faith and a gesture of heuristic exploration. On the one hand, I am aware that, as a descriptive literary historical construct, postmodernism begs questions of theoretical definition and practical periodisation which it is — even by its own admission — both ill-disposed and ill-equipped to answer. It both incorporates and exacerbates all the ambiguities and contradictions of the equally problematic notion of ‘modernism’ it claims to supersede, without in any way resolving them. On the other hand, the term is more easily dismissed than the configuration of assumptions, reflexes and strategies it seeks to approximate as the contours of our own cultural moment. In what follows I hope to demonstrate that, treated as a heuristic fiction rather than as a definitive descriptive category, the concept of postmodernism — to whose literary historical claims and terminological antinomies I shall return at the end of this paper — can enlighten more than it misleads and produce more understanding than it precludes.
KeywordsHistorical Continuity Late Capitalism Homosexual Relationship Local Past Problematic Notion
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