Between Fact and Fiction: Zofka Kveder as a Feminist icon in the Writings of her ContemporariesKatja Mihurko Poniž
, published scientific conference contribution abstract
Abstract: In the article, the process of a development of a female writer Zofka Kveder (1878-1926) into a feminist icon of the early 20th century in Croatian, Czech, Slovenian, Serbian, and Austrian space will be discussed. Kveder’s oeuvre consists of prose, plays, literary and theatre reviews, as well as feminist writing in the Slovenian, Czech, Croatian, and German language. Due to her status of a feminist and cultural icon, she has never been an overlooked or forgotten author. However, although the Slovenian, Croatian, Czech, and Serbian literary histories have intensively dealt with her work and personality in the last two decades, the strategies of her “canonization” have never been properly reflected upon.
As a literary figure, Kveder first appears in the poems and sketches of her husband, Croatian decadent poet Vladimir Jelovšek, namely, in his collection Simfonije (Symphonies, 1900), dedicated to her (“To my Sonja”). In it, she appears as a nervous young woman who transforms in the relationship with her beloved man (the lyrical subject) from the inexperienced, frightened, childish sincere but warm person (who is physically and psychically totally subjected to the lyrical subject) into an emancipated young writer.
In the magazine Čas, Czech modernist writer J.S. Machar describes her as one of the most beautiful and pure souls. Kveder’s Czech period (1900-1906) inspired her friend Zdenka Hasková as well. She reflected upon their first meetings in the poem Věnovani (Dedication) in the collection Cestou (The Way, 1920). Slovenian author is idolized; her luminous personality and creative geniality are exposed. Háskova also wrote an article about their friendship (Jihoslovanské přátelství, Yugoslavian friendship) and published it in 1923. A lengthy biographical text was written by Slovenian feminist and Kveder’s friend Minka Govekar.
In the German speaking space, Austrian politician Martha Tausk, another one of Kveder’s close friends, wrote about her. In the collection of novellas Fernambuk und anderes (Fernambuk and the Other, 1930) she portrayed Kveder in a memorial text Die Geschichte einer Freundschaft (The Story of a Friendship). In all these works, Kveder’s positive character dominates. A completely different image is presented in the novel Bjegunci (Fugitives, 1933), written by Avgust Cesarec. In this novel with a key, Kveder is presented through the character of the protagonist’s mother and does not have a single positive trait.
Diverse representations and attempts of constructing Zofka Kveder as a cultural icon of the South-Slavic space open questions about strategies of glorifying the author’s role in different literary systems and concealing the truth about certain personality features, which were not in line with the positive image of Kveder as a feminist role model for younger generations. These strategies testify the positive aspirations and aporias of the early feminist icon- and role-model building. In the presentation, narrative and discursive strategies of writing a story about a female writer, a feminist, and a New Woman Zofka Kveder will be revealed.
Keywords: Zofka Kveder, biografija, Vladimir Jelovšek, Martha Tausk, Zdenka Haskova, J.S. Machar, Minka Govekar, Avgust Cesarec
Published in RUNG: 23.12.2016; Views: 5112; Downloads: 0
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