The Rime of the Postmodern Mariner

More ramblings of Rhys Hughes.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

A Few of My Favourite Anti-Fascist Stories

The Beautiful Antonio by Vitaliano Brancatti, an Italian novelist who was actually a member of the Fascist Party in the 1930s before he "woke up" and changed his politics completely. This fine novel is a satire on the compulsory state of permanent virility that all good Italian Fascist males were supposed to endure!

Tadeusz Borowski's This Way for the Gas, Ladies and Gentlemen. One of the most terrifying, nihilistic and tragic books ever written, a collection of autobiographical stories by a concentration camp survivor that deal with the human mind at the limits of endurance. I bought this in Poland in 1999, forty eight years after the author committed suicide. The shocking theme of these tales is that to survive one has to become like one's tormentors and torment those even weaker than yourself...

Roberto BolaƱo's bizarre, playful and devastating Nazi Literature in the Americas. This is a Borges-inspired or perhaps Lem-inspired spoof of biographical encyclopedias. It's a critique of the left as well as a satire on the right.

'Deutsches Requiem' by Jorge Luis Borges, a story based on the truly disturbing conceit that the Nazis actually won the war because what they stood for (violent force) was the thing that became necessary to destroy them. As the narrator of that story declares at one point, "What does it matter that Germany was the anvil and our enemies the hammer, just so long as there was an anvil and hammer..."

A short story by Italo Calvino entitled 'Beheading the Heads' (it can be found in his collection Numbers in the Dark). It proposes a political system which has an automatic inbuilt anti-dictatorial failsafe mechanism -- the execution of all politicians (including the good ones) every two years and their replacement with fresh volunteers...

Ernst Junger. He openly criticised Hitler and the Nazi Party in novels such as On the Marble Cliffs, a remarkably brave gesture considering that he was living in Germany at the time. But he criticised the Nazis from a right-wing militaristic standpoint, odd as that may sound -- he wasn't against war, force, the strength of will, elitism, etc, but he was against dishonour, cruelty and irrationality.


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