Freeside Europe Online Academic Journal

Freeside Europe Online Academic Journal

Modern cultural, literary and linguistic perspectives

Ágnes Harasztos: The Cliché of the Melancholy East-Central European in Postmodern British Literature


DOI 10.51313/Freeside-2021-2

Postmodern British novels about East-Central Europe use the cliché of a melancholy Easterner to characterize this geocultural zone. This literary cliché dates back to Stoker’s Dracula (1897). Among many others, the melancholy cliché reveals the in-betweenness of East-Central Europe which can be understood both on a cultural and on a racial level. The figure of the lonely monster also suggests an objectified existence which is perceived as falling out of the space of linear modern time. Rose Tremain’s The Road Home (2007) and Bruce Chatwin’s Utz (1989) contain melancholy East-Central Europe representations which investigate post-socialist concerns, such as economic migration or troubled cultural memory. Melancholy is inherent in the creation of a modern self both as a mental state accompanying solitary thinking and as a subversive force denying fundamental meaning. The mapping of this cliché has a meta-cultural relevance, since both melancholy and the category of cliché represent anti-Modern forces thus characterizing the literary East-Central Europe image.

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ISSN 1786-7967

Budapest Institute, 1139 Budapest Frangepán utca 50-56. Hungary