Dreaming Empire: European Writers in the Fascist Era
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CitationKohen, Robert Dean. 2014. Dreaming Empire: European Writers in the Fascist Era. Doctoral dissertation, Harvard University.
AbstractThis dissertation explores how literary writers from across Western and Central Europe--namely Germany, Italy, Britain and France--invoked Europe's legacy of empire and colonialism in their attempt to come to terms with the specter of fascism. It argues that empire became the site upon which a wide range of writers built their critiques, sometimes overt and other times subvert, against a rising tide of fascist ideology in the 1930s and 1940s. What results is a condemningly critical--and in the case of writers publishing within fascist regimes, outright subversive--reading of fascism. Fascist racial ideology, hyper-militarism, economic policy, absolutist rule and expansionist policies are recurring targets of censure among these writers. By placing empire and fascism into dialogue, their writings not only proffered a powerful critique of fascism but also set into motion a critical rethinking of the project of empire. Uncomfortable affinities between a purportedly benevolent European overseas colonialism and the horrors committed by fascist powers within continental Europe challenged conventional wisdom about the colonial mission civilisatrice at the same time as they offered the raw material for a sustained critique of fascism. From a methodological perspective, this dissertation is concerned with literature as a historically and culturally situated product. While its primary objects of focus are literary texts, it draws on both cultural and political history, as well as, where relevant, knowledge of the author's life in order to better illuminate these works. The dissertation examines a range of texts--literary, historical, biographical, personal, critical--and makes use of close, analytical reading. The primary writers it treats are Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Joyce Cary, Gerhart Hauptmann, Marguerite Yourcenar, Hermann Broch, Dino Buzzati and Ennio Flaiano.
Citable link to this pagehttp://nrs.harvard.edu/urn-3:HUL.InstRepos:12274497
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