Creating a “Vocabulary of Rupture” Following WWII Sexual Violence in Hungarian Women Writers’ Narratives


  • Agatha Schwartz University of Ottawa



wartime rape, WWII, “vocabulary of rupture, ” representations of trauma, haunting


In this paper, Schwartz analyses three narratives by Hungarian women writers— Alaine Polcz’s Asszony a fronton (A Wartime Memoir), Judit Kováts’s Megtagadva [‘Denied’] and Fanni Gyarmati Miklósné Radnóti’s Napló [‘Diary’]—with regard to their representation of the rapes of Hungarian women by Red Army soldiers during WWII. Schwartz examines to what degree the rapes are positioned as a “rupture” in the first person narrators’ lives, and how the three narratives offer elements of a “vocabulary of rupture” (Butalia 2000) so as to work through traumatic memory and thus come to terms with both the short-term and long-term effects of trauma and social stigmatization. Even though the narratives eschew a black-and-white portrayal of the rapists, an orientalist stereotying is nonetheless present. Schwartz concludes with Avery Gordon that these and other rape narratives can be read as part of the process of settling the ghosts of a still unresolved past violence yet beyond simple ideological binaries along the victim-perpetrator line.






General Articles