Évf. 58 szám 3–4 (2019): Műelemzések

Árva Bethlen Kata önreprezentációi: (Érvek az önéletírás filológiai szempontú, kontextualizáló olvasása mellett)



Fazakas, G. T. (2019). Árva Bethlen Kata önreprezentációi: (Érvek az önéletírás filológiai szempontú, kontextualizáló olvasása mellett). Studia Litteraria, 58(3–4), 38–58. Elérés forrás https://ojs.lib.unideb.hu/studia/article/view/7458

The Transylvanian Countess, Kata Bethlen’s (1700-1759) autobiography was published in her lifetime, whereas the majority of autobiographies in the 17-18th centuries, especially if it was written by a woman, were circulated as manuscripts, and only very few of these were made public in their age, not just in Hungary but in Europe as well. Although Bethlen’s book was only published in small numbers but together with her also published prayer book they were enough to make her well-known among women with similar social standing from the second half of 18th century. Several scholars in the 20th century and the wider reading public appreciated autobiographies for their self-investigative and novel-like characteristics. This paper written from a philological perspective argues that by examining the context of early modern autobiographies the interpretation of these can be more accurate. On the one hand, I explore the meaning of Bethlen’s text being on the borderline of manuscripts and published register. On the other hand, I emphasise that in the early modern era we cannot talk about “writers” in the modern sense of the word, especially in the cases of female authors, because secretaries, scribes and court clergymen helped them prepare, circulate, and publish their texts. (This was also true of Kata Bethlen’s work, her text was emended, edited, proof-read, and published by her former court priest and one of the most important Calvinist scholars in 18th century Transylvania: Peter Bod.) Research calls this “collaborative co-authorship”. Finally, the paper offers an interpretative possibility, which introduces Bethlen’s autobiography as a coherent selfrepresentation of widowhood. According to this the forsaken woman’s individual helplessness and suffering can be allegorically understood as the trials of the whole persecuted community, namely the 18th century Transylvanian reformed church.