Academic journal article German Quarterly

Shifting Voices: Feminist Thought and Women's Writing in Fin-de-Siècle Austria and Hungary

Academic journal article German Quarterly

Shifting Voices: Feminist Thought and Women's Writing in Fin-de-Siècle Austria and Hungary

Article excerpt

Schwartz, Agatha. Shifting Voices: Feminist Thought and Women's Writing in Fin-de-Siècle Austria and Hungary. Montreal: McCill-Queen's University Press, 2008. 277 pp. $80.00 hardcover.

This ambitious study is a welcome addition to scholarship on late 19th- and early 20th-century literature not only because of its focus on feminist thought and bourgeois women writers in the Dual Monarchy, many of whom have been left out of literary histories over time, but also because the study moves beyond Vienna (and even Austria) to include a focus on Hungarian writers as well. In fact, one of the exciting features of this book is a "Bibliography of Hungarian Hn-de-Siecle Women Writers," a first of its kind, which Agatha Schwartz compiled and included as an appendix to this book. The other appendix, short biographical listings of the 27 authors whose works are treated in more detail in this study, demonstrates how little is actually known about many of these authors and documents the diversity of the writers at hand. It is interesting to note that over half of the authors mentioned either traveled extensively, studied abroad, or lived for extensive periods of time outside the borders of the Austro-Hungarian empire.

In this book, Agatha Schwartz discusses the interplay of traditional and feminist voices at the turn of the century. Drawing upon Mikhail Bakhtin's theories of heteroglossia, hybrid, and double-voiced discourses, Sigrid Weigel's notion of double focus, as well as Jessica Benjamin's discussions of intersubjectivity, Schwarz is able to pinpoint various strategies used by women writers to express their views on gender and sexuality, as well as to offer comparisons between the Austrian and Hungarian texts under analysis. The chapters of this book are organized thematically, rather than by chronology or region. This has the advantage of allowing various texts to resurface more than once, thus expanding and enriching the analysis. The first three chapters analyze both fictional and theoretical texts that focus on early examples of feminist discourse in Austria and Hungary (Chapter 1); the demands for advanced education for women, female suffrage, and a re-evaluation of sexuality (Chapter 2); and the dynamic interactions between feminism and the hatred of one or other of the sexes - namely, misogyny and viriphobia (Chapter 3). …

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