Growing Up as a Girl in Late Socialist Poland: The Personal, the Political and Class in Feminist Quasi-Autobiographical Novels by Izabela Filipiak and Joanna Bator
Keywords:quasi-autobiographical novel, mother-daughter relationship, coming of age in late socialism, Bildungsroman
The article examines how representations of late socialism, seen through the eyes of adolescent girls, function in ‘quasi-autobiographical novels’ by Izabela Filipiak (Absolutna amnezja [Absolutne Amnesia], 1995) and Joanna Bator (Piaskowa Góra [The Sandy Hill], 2008). The authors, born in the 1960s and self-identified feminists, became voices of the women’s movement in post-1989 Poland. From their novels, the picture of late socialism emerges as either nightmarish (Filipiak) or grotesque (Bator). Examining family relations, but also intimate relations (understood as political), the author argues that the novels’ focus on gender/sexual differences is consistent with the dominant message of the women’s movement in Poland, which after 1989 lost sight of class differences, contributing to their naturalization and taming. Through the aforementioned examples, the author demonstrates that late socialism is an essential component of the founding story of contemporary feminism in Poland, and that the topos of the conflict between mothers and daughters is a useful tool of its anti-communist identity politics. Discussing the issue of the literary genre, the article proves that the choice of a quasi-autobiographical novel, based on the Bildungsroman scheme, harmonizes with the biographical, artistic and political settlements of the ‘breakthrough generation’ with late socialism and transformation.
Copyright (c) 2021 Agnieszka Mrozik
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