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Being “completely half afraid to think”: Confronting the Absurd in Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman

Abstract

In order to demonstrate an aspect in which the novel is relatable to the canon of absurdism and enrich the view of dimensions in which it functions, the purpose of the following article is a reading of Flann O’Brien’s The Third Policeman in relation to the Absurd as an ontological category of existentialism and absurdism. Firstly, some assumptions already made on account of the novel are introduced. Secondly, the relevant and chosen characteristics of the Absurd are summarized in relation to Kierkegaard’s and Camus’s conceptions of the Absurd. Then, the novel is interpreted in relation to the insufficiency of human knowledge and rational thought in terms of achieving comprehension transcending existence. Lastly, the novel is interpreted in relation to the narrator’s fear of death, with death as an element transcending existence and adding to its irrationality. Overall, the way in which the novel depicts a specific contraction resulting in the Absurd is illustrated.

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The concept of happiness in Night Zoo

Abstract

This paper deals with a psychoanalytic interpretation of the titular story. It is part of the first volume in the Hungarian anthology series entitled Night Zoo – An Anthology of Women’s Sexuality (‘Éjszakai Állatkert – Antológia a női szexualitásról’). The analysis focuses on the story Night Zoo (‘Éjszakai Állatkert’) written by Zsófia Bán according to Freud’s personality theory. The theory regards our psyche as divided into three parts. The id is the instinctual part of our mind that represents our sexual and hidden desires, the superego contains the moral conscience and the norms, and the ego mediates between the wishes of the id and the rules of the superego. The chosen short story seems to revolve around unfulfilled love between two people. But after critical reading, it is obvious that this is not a love story of two people, but the relationship lies between the narrator and her unfulfilled desires. There is an immense conflict between instincts and social expectations. The narrator’s id has a desire; she just wants to be happy and have harmony in her life. But the superego does not allow her to fulfill the desire. The ego is therefore instrumental in deciding what the correct decision is.

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Literary space in Ismail Kadare’s novel The Palace of Dreams (A semiotic approach)

Abstract

This research study focuses on a social semiotic approach to Ismail Kadare’s novel The Palace of Dreams. The novel was chosen for study and analysis because it is considered to be one of the Kadare’s most important works. The Palace of Dreams reflects many aspects of Albanian society including governmental abuse of power during the period of the communist regime. The analysis of literary space in this novel focuses on locating the literary discourse in the text and the spaces of the text that produce discourse with their shape, presence and extension. The purpose of this research study is to see how and in what way meaning is conveyed through spaces, and also how and in what shape it serves the comprehensive ideas of the novel. Our purpose is not only to highlight the values of this novel, but rather enable to understand the great importance that space plays in people’s work environments and in their private lives (the characters), and how crucial the space is for their lives and destinies.

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The motifs of happiness, distress, anger and misery in the tales of Magda Szécsi

Abstract

The present study focuses on the tales of Hungarian-Roma writer Magda Szécsi, which were studied using the content analysis method. This study constitutes part of a larger research project that aims to provide methodological guidance for the integration of Roma pupils in schools that use Hungarian as the language of instruction. The types of function of primary socialization and the types of intra- and extra-familial interaction are illustrated via examples in the study. The motifs of happiness, anxiety, anger and misery in the tales of Magda Szécsi’s two books, Madarak aranyhegedűn (Birds on the Golden Violin [1996]) and Az aranyhalas lószem tükre (Mirror of the Horse Eye with the Gold Fish [1988]), are analysed in light of the aforementioned aspects. I applied the research method of qualitative content analysis and explained the forms of happiness and unhappiness in the books. There are many examples in the tales under discussion of the conditions of happiness and the reasons for misery in Roma culture. The three components determining the characters’ happiness or unhappiness are faith in God, idolatry and Gypsy law.

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A quest for unification with the divine: Crashaw’s Teresa Poems “A Hymn to the Name and Honour of the Admirable Saint Teresa” and “The Flaming Heart”

Abstract

As a metaphysical poet, Richard Crashaw (1613-1649) is recognized for his stylistic experimentation and deep religious faith. In the course of his short life, he became a fellow at Cambridge, was later introduced to Queen Henrietta Marie, Charles I’s wife, in France after his exile during the Interregnum, converted to Catholicism from Anglicanism and was highly influenced by Baroque poetry and the martyrdom of St. Teresa of Avila in his style and themes. He is a poet with a “most holy, humble and genuine soul” and in the last six years of his life, which coincided with a period of great crisis in both personal and professional spheres, he worked intensively on the religious phase of his literary career (Shepherd 1914, p. 1). He reflected his devotion to St. Teresa and to God in his religious poems. Within this context, this study analyses Crashaw’s two Teresian poems, “A Hymn to the Name and Honour of the Admirable Saint Teresa” and “The Flaming Heart” featuring the themes of the quest for divine love and unification with the divine along with Crashaw’s divergence from other metaphysical poets, his affection for the European style(s), and his religious views concerning both his country and other countries in Europe.

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The trauma of condemnation and the embellishment of an illegitimate child as a source of regeneration in Lizzie Leigh and Ruth

Abstract

This paper focuses on Mrs Gaskell’s treatment of the erring girl in Lizzie Leigh (1850) and Ruth (1853) and the new elements that she introduces which brand the treatment as different. Contrary to her Victorian contemporaries, Mrs Gaskell stresses the role of religion, the use of biblical quotations on the treatment of the sinner, and the role of motherhood. The paper also shows how Mrs Gaskell makes the illegitimate child an incentive towards repentance and hope of reclamation. Through her motherly love and devotion to her child, a mother rises and grows in character and faith. Moreover, the paper demonstrates Mrs Gaskell’s condemnation of the falsity of the traditional taxonomy of “illegitimate” or “fallen”, and her assertion that social value lies in the inherent properties within the individual. It also highlights how she makes forgiveness for the sinner a duty which society has to fulfil, and maintains that if the charitable and the kind are forced “to lie” because of the existing social and moral attitudes, then it is imperative that they should be changed so that “lies” are unnecessary. It concludes by investigating the stormy reception and the controversy it created among readers.

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Animal transformation as a deserved punishment in archnarratives

Abstract

The present study is devoted to the transformation of protagonists into animals in ancient narratives (myths, magical stories, legends, etc.) from various cultures and continents (Europe, Asia, America, Africa and Australia). The aim of this research is to determine in what situations and subject-motive combinations the main protagonist transforms into an animal as a part or consequence of his/her fair/well-deserved punishment. We will also attempt to conceptually grasp the archetypal meaning of the existential transformation into an animal, which is directly related to human thinking and (sacral and profane) way of life.

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Morality and values in Pavel Vilikovský’s The Autobiography of Evil

Abstract

Morality is often referred to as the code of conduct of society. This code determines what is considered correct behaviour and enforces values society deems beneficial. Values themselves are protected by laws and social or moral norms. Authors combine all the mentioned concepts and convey them through the actions taken or not taken by characters. Their writings provide the reader with characters’ motivations, reasoning and try to line them up with a final judgment – to see whether individual morals and values line up with the ones upheld by the rest of society. When dealing with morality in narratives of pain and trauma, the objective is then not only to analyse the protagonists’ psyche but also consider societal pressures. The focus of our analysis lies in Pavel Vilikovský’s novel The Autobiography of Evil, in which the author depicts morally sound characters becoming morally ambiguous while living in an oppressively authoritarian political system. Our aim is to explore the pain and trauma of Jozef K. whose moral core is affected by blackmail and threats. His actions are misguided and they perpetuate the cycle of violence instead of stopping it.

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The silent world of Reinaldo Arenas’s novels

Abstract

The paper focuses on the life and poetics of Cuban writer Reinaldo Arenas, an important representative of Cuban gay literature, who, due to his sexual orientation and eventual opposition to the Revolution, was silenced by the Cuban government and exposed to continual threats. His novels, which depict the hardship of and discrimination against ordinary people and gay members of Cuban society (for example Old Rosa and Farewell to the Sea), reveal also signs of the deep trauma that the writer suffered and its impact on his writing.

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The suffering of existence in Kazuo Ishiguro’s Never Let Me Go

Abstract

This paper deals with the British dystopian novel Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguro, in which human clones are forced to donate their organs in an alternate reality set in 1990s England. Through the characters of the novel, various manifestations of suffering are examined from the viewpoint of existentialism. The whole concept of donation might be understood as a metaphorical expression for human life, as well as the omnipresent consciousness of its finitude. Ishiguro has prepared the ground for disturbing discussion where two ostensibly different groups of people – clones, whose only purpose is to donate their vital organs, and “normal people” as the recipients – suddenly appear to be indistinguishable in terms of mortality and the general experience of human existence. This paper focuses on the concept of existential anguish in the context of the novel’s story. Using an unobtrusive science fiction narrative, Never Let Me Go encourages readers to contemplate the essence, meaning and purpose of human life, and it quietly points to topics that are usually treated as highly sensitive: the inevitability of death and apparent absurdity of human existence.

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