The Hungarian-French Language Shift in Agota Kristof’s The Illiterate

  • Magdalena RoguskaEmail author
Part of the New Frontiers in Translation Studies book series (NFTS)


The article examines Agota Kristof’s autobiographical novel L’Analphabète (The Illiterate). The author of the memoir was a Switzerland-based Hungarian writer who escaped from her homeland after the suppression of the Hungarian uprising in 1956 and spent most of her life in the Swiss city of Neuchâtel. The Illiterate describes a long and painful process of the main character’s assimilation in the new culture with a special focus on the problems associated with acquiring the French language. The analysis concentrates on the ways in which this dramatic process of a language shift is depicted in the text. The initial part of the article presents the concept of migrant literature and lists the key issues related to it. Particular attention is also given to the concept of translingualism, which serves as the methodological basis for this article.


Mother Tongue Main Character French Language Language Shift Migrant Literature 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.


  1. Kellman, Steven G. (ed.). 2013. Switching languages: Translingual writers reflect on their craft. Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press.Google Scholar
  2. Kristof, Agota. 1986. Le Grand Cahier. Paris: Seuil.Google Scholar
  3. Kristof, Agota. 2014. The Illiterate. Trans. N. Bogin. London: CB Editions.Google Scholar
  4. Nagy, Hajnalka. 2012. Az irodalom senkiföldjén. Transzkulturális irodalom és osztrák kultúra. Forrás 44/10. Accessed 9 Sept 2016.
  5. Németh, Zoltán. 2015. A migráns irodalom lehetőségei a közép-európai irodalmakban. In Térátlépések, ed. J. Géczi, F. András, 243–250. Veszprém: Pannon Egyetem, MFTK Antropológia és Etika Tanszék.Google Scholar
  6. Said, Edward. 1978. Orientalism. London: Pantheon Books.Google Scholar
  7. Trepte, Hans Christian. 2013. W poszukiwaniu innej rzeczywistości. In Między językami, kulturami, literaturami. Polska literatura (e)migracyjna w Berlinie i Sztokholmie po roku 1981, eds. E. Teodorowicz-Hellman, J. Gesche, M. Brandt, 81–96. Stockholm: Stockholms universitet. Slaviska institutionen.Google Scholar
  8. Welsch, Wolfgang. 1999. Transculturality: The Puzzling Form of Cultures Today. In Spaces of cultures: City, nation, world, ed. M. Featherstone, and S. Lash, 194–197. London: SAGE.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Springer Nature Singapore Pte Ltd. 2017

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Hungarian StudiesWarsaw UniversityWarsawPoland

Personalised recommendations