This dissertation examines the role of the literary in the contradictory political experiences of three authors. I argue that Albert Camus, Ignazio Silone, and Manès Sperber create a literary language that speaks about a type of political abuse and betrayal that the ideologies of twentieth-century radical regimes cannot explain. These authors belong to a rare generation of intellectuals that suffered under both fascism and Stalinism. Each made a break with politics at a time when these political parties dictated their intellectual and cultural communities. This break stripped them of their entire sense of belonging in a world in which politics was everything. They were plunged into space between fascism and Stalinism that operated like a political abyss. My analyses show that fiction became for them a new form of political writing for which this abyss, an abyss characterized by political loss and betrayal, offered possibilities of political and artistic renewal. In these writers' attempts to avoid the political in their literature, they came up with political truths only available through literature: the abuses of fascism and Stalinism were not unprecedented events; they were part of an age-old cycle of political destruction.
In Silone's Fontamara, Camus' La Peste, and Sperber's Wie eine Träne im Ozean, I argue that the literary emerges from the ruins of other genres of writing. In Chapter 1 "Pescina Trembles: Ghosts of Fontamara and the Earthquake of History," Silone's hidden story about the silencing of Abruzzo peasants arises from the collapse of two forms of historical narrative: the history of Italian politics and Silone's biographical history. In Chapter 2, "Albert Camus and La Peste : Allegory in Ruins," it is the allegorical bridge between Camus' journalism and his literature, which breaks down to reveal another narrative of French political abuses inflicted upon Jews, communists, and autochtones in Algeria. In Chapter 3, "Manès Sperber and the End of Austrian Galicia. The Messianic Collapse of Memoir and Literature," the religious story of a fictional shtetl interrupts the political narrative. The book is not only the odyssey of disillusioned communists, but also a story about the destruction Galicia shtetl life.
Table of Contents
Table of Contents
In Between Stalinism and Fascism: The Contradictory Art of Engagement
Pescina Trembles: Ghosts of Fontamara and the Earthquake of History
Albert Camus and La Peste: Allegory in Ruins
Manès Sperber and the End of Austrian Galicia. The Messianic Collapse of Memoir and Literature
About this Dissertation
|Committee Chair / Thesis Advisor|
|Ignazio Silone, Albert Camus, and Manès Sperber: Writing Between Stalinism and Fascism ()||2018-08-28||