The traditional way of representing animals was either by a metaphor or by anthropomorphization. In parallel with the slowly growing ecological sensitivity of our times, in contemporary literature, animals are depicted as specific subjects. The study surveys a selection of representative works from world literature and groups them into thematic, motivic groups, tracking the route of animal motifs from the Antiquity to the present, with special focus on a set of Hungarian literary works that deserve a place in the “animal canon” of world literature. The survey is aimed at providing the background against which two contemporary Hungarian novels, Zsolt Láng’s Bestiarium Transylvaniae IV and Zsuzsa Selyem’s Moszkvában esik [It’s Raining in Moscow] will be discussed. These novels organically grow out of, but also displace, the outlined literary tradition, basing their aesthetics upon the subversive perceptual, narrative potential of the animal subject.
Umberto Eco’s novel The Name of the Rose as a postmodern literary work is extensively based on transtextuality. There are series of quotations from the Bible, Petrus Abelardus, St. Bernard, Petrarch, Conan Doyle, Agatha Christie, Jorge L. Borges, Nietzsche, and other classic authors interwoven into the novel’s narrative. The text is a result of multiple translations, a truly intercultural adventure: Adso, a 14th-century German monk from the Melk monastery provides a Northern Italian travel experience in Latin language, this memoir is translated by the publishing narrator into the Italian language of the 20th century. The characters of the story come from different areas of Europe, as there are monks from England, Spain, Norway, Germany, and other countries. This paper sheds light on the problems that occurred during the novel’s translation.
In Jože Hradil’s Faceless Pictures [Slike brez obrazov] the characters go astray or get into the attraction of adventures and set off for a journey. The spiritual and identity shifts can be interpreted along these eternal human desires as well. A patchwork of remembering and forgetting, the internal journeys of identity preservation, spontaneous or forced assimilation, tolerance and all kinds of politics-induced human deformations are depicted in the novel. The text traces the roles of the journey defined by Jean Chevalier and Alain Gheerbrant such as the search for justice, peace, immortality and finding the spiritual center. This study examines how the concrete physical journey changes into an internal road determining the evolution of personality.
The plots of the novels The Sinistra Zone (1992), The Archbishop’s Visit (1999) and The Birds of Verhovina (2011) by Ádám Bodor unfold in border zones, in spaces of liminal existence. By investigating the intricate relationship between the Self and the Other, using particular space forming techniques with shifts and displacements, these novels extend the scope of postmodern fragmentariness to identity construction as well. In these literary works enforced journeys or travels with well-defined purposes should not be merely understood in their physical sense: identity also undergoes a change, becomes hybrid. In a space characterized by a labyrinth of ethnic diversity, identities distorted by a dictatorial regime often go beyond the border of the human, the characters being endowed with animal features. Starting from Merleau-Ponty’s idea according to which action is not set in space, but rather comes into being through space (Faragó 2001, 7), the consequences of spatial changes must also be taken into account.