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Experimental Fiction International II

Class at Faculty of Arts |

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THIS CODE WAS CREATED SPECIFICALLY FOR ERASMUS STUDENTS. If you are a foreign student and you need a grade for this course, you should sign up for this code.


The two-semester course aims to survey the 20th-century experimental fiction written outside the English language, and yet one with important ties to and overlaps with the Anglo-American fiction of the times. Part Two of the course will focus on no fewer than 21 writers active post-war.

Just as the postwar Anglophone literature is hard to conceive without such innovators as Christine Brooke-Rose, B.S. Johnson, Vladimir Nabokov and Thomas Pynchon, these figures are in turn impossible to understand without a grasp of the influence of the French Oulipo group, the New Novel, of Latin American magic realism, or such maverick figures as Arno Schmidt and Italo Calvino.

The course will again start by surveying arguably the most vital literary tradition of the French postwar avant-garde, and within a broadly comparative framework in mind then go on to cover the experimental developments in the German, Spanish & Portuguese, Italian and Latin American literary traditions. Authors covered include Ignacio de Loyola Brandão, Roberto Bolaño, Gabriel Cabrera Infante, Italo Calvino, Julio Cortázar, Hélène Cixous, Hubert Fichte, Carlos Fuentes, Elena Garro, Juan Goytisolo, Pierre Guyotat, José Lezama Lima, Giorgio Manganelli, Catherine Millet, Georges Perec, Julián Ríos, Alain Robbe-Grillet, Arno Schmidt, Philippe Sollers, Luisa Valenzuela, and Peter Weiss.

Week 1 (Feb 16)

INTRODUCTION: Experimental Fiction International Post-War

I. FRANCE (Weeks 2-5) 23 Feb Alain Robbe-Grillet (1922-2008) The Erasers (1953)

Jealousy (1957) 2 Mar Georges Perec (1936-1982) A Void (1969)

Life – A User’s Manual (1979) 9 Mar Hélène Cixous (*1937) Inside (1968)

Philippe Sollers (*1936) The Park (1961); H (1973) 16 Mar Pierre Guyotat (1940-2020) Eden Eden Eden (1970)

Catherine Millet (*1948) The Sexual Life of Catherine M. (2001)

II. GERMANY (Weeks 6-7) 23 Mar Hubert Fichte (1935-1986) Detlev’s Imitations (Masks) (1971)

Peter Weiss (1916-1982) The Aesthetics of Resistance (1975) 30 Mar Arno Schmidt (1914-1979) Zettels Traum / Bottom’s Dream (1970)

III. ITALY (Week 8) 6 Apr Giorgio Manganelli (1922-1990) Centuria (1979)

Italo Calvino (1923-1985) If on a Winter’s Night a Traveller (1979)

IV. SPAIN (Week 9) 13 Apr Juan Goytisolo (1931-2017) Marks of Identity (1966)

Julián Ríos (*1941) Larva (1983)

V. CENTRAL AMERICA (Weeks 10-11)

Cuba 20 Apr G. Cabrera Infante (1929-2005) Three Trapped Tigers (1966)

José Lezama Lima (1910-1976) Paradiso (1966)

Mexico 27 Apr Elena Garro (1916-1998) Recollections of the Things to Come (1963)

Carlos Fuentes (1928-2012) Terra Nostra (1976)

V. LATIN AMERICA (Weeks 12-13)

Argentina 4 May Julio Cortázar (1914-1984) Hopscotch (1963)

Luisa Valenzuela (*1938) The Lizard’s Tail (1983)

Brazil & Chile 11 May Ignacio de Loyola Brandão (*1936) Zero (1974)

Roberto Bolaño (1953-2003) Savage Detectives (1998)



In view of the current situation connected to the COVID-19 pandemic in Czechia, the seminar will quite probably start taking place via an online platform (preferably Zoom), and only if/when developments permitting will it transition to in-person teaching. The same participation and assessment rules will remain in place.


All of the primary reading will be available from the faculty Moodle system for the students to study as part of their weekly readings. 2 PRESENTATIONS

Each of the in-class presentations should last around 20 minutes (followed by a 10-min Q&A) and should be focused solely on a close reading of the text in question (i.e., no lengthy biographical summaries, no paraphrases of extant critical accounts).

Every presenter should, in reasonable advance (by Sunday noon), assign the rest of the class a particular passage from the work-to-be-presented (50 pages), on which his/her presentation and subsequent discussion should be focused. In response to the presentation, each member of the audience should form a question to the presenter in the Q&A session after each presentation.


The final seminar paper (graded) shall have the scope of 3,000 words and will be due by 16 June 2021. Individual deadline extensions are possible but need to be discussed with the lecturer in reasonable advance. N.B. Students need to discuss their final paper topics, bibliography, etc. with the lecturer ahead of the end of the course, i.e. in mid-May.


Students will be given their non-graded (“zápočet”) credit for active participation in a minimum 10 sessions (of 12 total) and two presentations.

Students aiming for the graded-paper (“zkouška”) assignment need to submit a final paper (of 3000 words).

N.B. Due to Departmental policy, only MA students are allowed to enroll for the graded paper credit option. N.B. for Erasmus students: you can only enroll for the non-graded/zápočet credit option; however, should your home university demand it, you can consequently receive a “grade” for your overall performance.