Anxiety Caused by Too Many Cats in Bohumil Hrabal’s “All My Cats”

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Keywords: Anxiety, Agency, Absurdity, Bohumil Hrabal, Social Contracts

Abstract

All My Cats is an autobiographical novel representing Hrabal’s fatal anxiety from the potential mental conflict with domesticated animals. This article examines the concept of anxiety and the potential for domesticated animals, in this example, cats, to exert agency and impact the lives of their owners in autobiographical literature. Bohumil Hrabal's All My Cats has been selected due to the prominence of literary signifiers of anxiety, his ambivalent attitude toward cats (love and hate) throughout the text, and Hrabal’s specific interpretation of what his cats did for him and to him in emotional terms. The methodology selected does not presuppose that cats, or animals in the broader sense, possess agency on an equal footing with humans. Rather, they can exist in an interdependent or collaborative state with humans. This may be seen as a form of an unwritten social contract between animals and humans in a domestic setting. In the case of Hrabal and his cats, his perception of his cats and what they attempt to communicate to him is most interesting in this regard, particularly when viewed through the lens of anxiety and the literary signifier.

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Author Biographies

Edward Owen Teggin, Department of History, Faculty of Cultural Sciences, Universitas Diponegoro, Tembalang, Semarang 50275

EDWARD OWEN TEGGIN received his Ph.D. in history from Trinity College, Dublin, Ireland. Since graduating, his research interests have evolved from early modern colonial trade and governance into more of a focus on colonial anxiety and the human experience of empire. He is proud to have his present academic affiliation with Universitas Diponegoro.

Yostiani Noor Asmi Harini, Study Programs of Indonesian Language and Literature, Faculty of Language and Literature Education, Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia, Bandung 40145

YOSTIANI NOOR ASMI HARINI completed her undergraduate degree at Prodi Bahasa dan Sastra Indonesia, Departemen Pendidikan Bahasa dan Sastra Indonesia, FPBS UPI. She continued her postgraduate studies in Sastra Kontemporer, FIB UNPAD. She is currently completing her Doctoral Degree in Literature at FIB UNPAD. She is very happy to be a lecturer at her alma mater, Prodi Bahasa dan Sastra Indonesia, Depdiksatrasia, FPBS Universitas Pendidikan Indonesia.

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Published
2023-05-29
How to Cite
Teggin, E. O., & Harini, Y. N. A. (2023). Anxiety Caused by Too Many Cats in Bohumil Hrabal’s “All My Cats”. OKARA: Jurnal Bahasa Dan Sastra, 17(1), 69-84. https://doi.org/10.19105/ojbs.v17i1.8619