Remembering Late Socialism

‘How it all turned out alright’: Autofiction as Memory Form in Irena Dousková’s Novels about Childhood and Youth in Post-1968 Czechoslovakia




autofiction, childhood, cultures of remembrances, Czech literature


Autofictions and memoirs about growing up in late socialism have proliferated in Czech as well as in other postsocialist Eastern European literatures. These retrospective texts are often tinged with nostalgia and infused with irony and humour. Two of the most popular texts of this genre in the Czech Republic are Irena Dousková’s autofictional books Hrdý Budžes [B. Proudew] and Oněgin byl Rusák [Onegin Was a Rusky]. The Czech author writes about growing-up in a non-conformist family dealing with everyday life in socialist Czechoslovakia. After discussing Dousková’s books as autofiction the article will take a closer look at the poetics of childhood autofictions and their contribution to cultures of remembering socialism in comparison to autobiographies. It will discuss the ways how writing about childhood creates a specific socialist identity through scarcity, ingenuity, and working with/against restraints and the way humour is used to transmit difficult memories.

Author Biography

Anja Tippner, University of Hamburg

Anja Tippner is Professor of Slavic Literatures at Hamburg University. She studied German, English, and Slavic Literature in Frankfurt/M., Hamburg, and St. Petersburg. She has held positions at Prague University, Kiel University, and Salzburg University. Fields of interest: concepts of documentation, auto/biography and life-writing; representations and memorialization of catastrophes and the Shoah; Jewish literatures in Eastern Europe; Russian, Czech, and Polish literature. Among her latest publications are: Anja Tippner and Anna Artwińska (eds.), Narratives of Confinement, Annihilation, and Survival: Camp Literature in a Comparative Perspective (De Gruyter, 2019); Doerte Bischoff and Anja Tippner (eds.), Figurations of Mobile Identities in Contemporary European Jewish Literature. Yearbook for European Jewish Literature Studies 5 (2018); Christopher F. Laferl and Anja Tippner (eds.), Texte zur Theorie der Biographie und Autobiographie (Reclam, 2016).





Remembering Late Socialism