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A History of Things That Did Not Happen

The Life and Work of Two Fictitious Hungarian Women Authors

Beata Hock

This article re-reads from a feminist perspective and with the interpretative strategies of feminist criticism, two pieces of late-twentieth-century Hungarian literature, Sándor Weöres's Psyché and Péter Esterházy's Tizenhét hattyúk (Seventeen swans). Both books were written by men and both introduce a fictitious woman figure as the author, presenting the text as hers. Both authors also present this material in an archaised language. A multilayered analysis that tackles the implications of the gender shift between the real and the fictitious authors, the genre of the works, their peculiar language use as well as the historical dimensions of conjuring up women authors, leads me to conclude that Psyché and Tizenhét hayúk may qualify as feminist textual practice. They open up the literary historical canon for women authors and, by actualising l'écriture féminine, let the female protagonists express themselves outside the bounds of phallologocentric signification.