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Marta Souckova

On the Irony in Božena Slan?iková Timrava's Prose


Marta Sou?ková in her paper closely inspects the short fiction by Timrava (one of the first Slovak women authors, 1867–1951) in order to highlight the issue of comic there, mainly irony as the characteristic narrative trope. Whereas male realistic Slovak authors coped with opposition of own and foreign culture, female writers followed up not only the world literature, but as well as domestic, male tradition. It is interesting that although Slovak realistic women authors brought up on German sentimental literature (E. Wernerová, W. Heinburgová and others), only B. Slan?íková Timrava criticized it. Whereas most Slovak realistic authors tried to solve national problems through literature, Timrava was authentic, she portrayed her own problems through her protagonists and she just wanted to be artistic. This was the reason why she rejected the sentimental and didactic literary genres known from home (her father was evangelical minister).

In her prose Timrava uses also the narrative autobiographical structure to point out hypocrisy of the period of the Austrio-Hungarian Monarchy at the end of the 19th century and the beginning of the 20th century. In the partially autobiographical nouvelle Všetko za národ (Everything for the Nation; 1926) Timrava criticizes exaggerated emotions as well as nationalism. In the nouvelle we can find different solutions of the national problem as opposed to the usual way presented in Slovak literature. In Timrava´s prosaic work personal and national is interwoven, nevertheless, the nation, folk or a man are not worthy of great love and sacrifice. The anti-idyllic character of the nouvelle is connected with the corporeality of the characters: Timrava doesn´t model an ideal heroine. In Timrava´s texts we can find the traces of eroticism or scenes in which the female character is controlled by her body, not spirit. There is the contrast between external and internal world in Timrava´s work, speech of heroes is not the same as their inner monologue. It often provides the comic turn, but we must differentiate between irony and humour. The motif of marriage is frequent in Timrava´s work because of the fact that her female characters are not often nice, rich or wise and they fall in love with men who are unworthy to their affection. This motif is also modeled by irony.

AsK, September 2012

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