The Anti-Racist Overtones of a Feminist Historical Novel Tetralogy from the 1940s

Judit Kádár


Although the most popular Hungarian historical novels were written in the nineteenth century by the famous romantic writer, Mór Jókai, a revival of the genre occurred in the period following the First World War. Most of the authors, each influenced by a different worldview, were scouring the symbolic space of history for an explanation as to why Hungary had lost the war. “Our knowledge of the past, our cultural heritage is also a symbolic space that is the site of struggle for the self-representation of social groups, a space that is shaped according to the degrees to which certain groups have access to it” – states Györgyi Horváth in her work on the constitutive role of the historical narrative; this, of course, is also true of authors in the Post World War I Era. They represented their own social groups, which happened to be white, middle class, Hungarian men. Although the period between the two World Wars saw the rise of female authorship, and dozens of historical novels were published by women each year, almost all women writers conceived their novels from a dominant masculine perspective. In this paper, I examine one of the few exceptions, a tetralogy of historical novels by Lola Kosáryné Réz, written from the perspective of oppressed women, and I discuss her stance on the relationship between different ethnicities in discourses of war and responsibility.


anti-Racism in lterature, Hungarian feminist writers, feminist historical novel

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