Screaming in Silence: Narrative Voice in Latvian Writer Gundega Repše’s Prose Fiction

Proceedings of The 5th Global Conference on Women’s Studies

Year: 2023



Screaming in Silence: Narrative Voice in Latvian Writer Gundega Repše’s Prose Fiction

Sandra Meškova



Narrative voice is a relatively new subject of present-day research in narratology theorized by G. Genette, S.S. Lanser, R. Walsh as a complex effect of formal and pragmatic elements comprising point of view, focalization, tone, modality, and the spatio-temporal models of narrative. The present paper investigates the peculiarities of narrative voice using the framework of narratology and écriture féminine in contemporary Latvian writer Gundega Repše’s prose fiction focusing on two of her novels: “Īkstīte” (Thumbelina, 2000) and “Alvas kliedziens” (The Tin Scream, 2002). Both novels present a search for integrity of a female homodiegetic narrator conveying reflections of the feminine difference as an agonizing and complex process. In the novel “Īkstīte”, the feminine self-discovery ends in a loss of subject integrity and the disruption of language. The female protagonist’s disruption of language and failed story can be interpreted as essential symptoms of the cultural situation, in which the violence against the feminine, taking into consideration the feminine code of national communality, testifies to a necessity of working out the experience of violence at the level of the collective awareness. In “Alvas kliedziens”, the teen-aged protagonist Rugetta’s diary brings out the structure of trauma and psychosis of the feminine subject as she struggles against the physical and emotional violence inflicted by the Soviet school where teachers and learners were involved in a system of surveillance and mutual informing. In both novels, the integrity of the feminine subject is rather a problem than a source of alternative cultural and social visions.

keywords: écriture féminine, feminine subjectivity, Latvian literature, sexual difference, trauma