Postmemory Twice: Poetic and Narrative Transformation in George Szirtes’s Biographies of His Mother


  • Szlukovényi Katalin Eötvös Loránd University


Słowa kluczowe:

contemporary poetry, biography, postmemory, Holocaust, identity


The Hungarian-born English contemporary poet George Szirtes has written several times about two traumas of his family history: the Holocaust, which both his parents survived, while several of their relatives perished, and the Revolution of 1956, which forced them into exile. My paper focuses on two major narratives about Szirtes’s mother: a cycle of poems “Metro” (1988) and a biography in prose The Photographer at Sixteen (2019). Exploring the differences in perspective and form as well as the similarities in themes and structure, I seek the answer to the questions how one’s own memories are intertwined with the past of the communities where one belongs; how these controversial sets of memories might lead to internal conflicts; and how the memory of one’s predecessors are being transformed by the process of the speaker’s own transformation in the time span of three decades. Investigating these aspects, I argue that Marianne Hirsch’s concept of postmemory not only proves to be instrumental in understanding several books by Szirtes better but also that Szirtes goes one step further than Hirsch by revealing how individual memory not only is embedded into and influenced by communal memory, but also is constructed in the form of family memories passed on from one generation to the next.


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Jak cytować

Katalin, S. (2023). Postmemory Twice: Poetic and Narrative Transformation in George Szirtes’s Biographies of His Mother. Jednak Książki. Gdańskie Czasopismo Humanistyczne, (16), 105–114.