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Our NazisRepresentations of Fascism in Contemporary Literature and Film$
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Petra Rau

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9780748668649

Published to Edinburgh Scholarship Online: September 2013

DOI: 10.3366/edinburgh/9780748668649.001.0001

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Nazi Noir: Hardboiled Masculinity and Fascist Sensibility from Ambler and Greene to Philip Kerr

Nazi Noir: Hardboiled Masculinity and Fascist Sensibility from Ambler and Greene to Philip Kerr

(p.43) Chapter 1 Nazi Noir: Hardboiled Masculinity and Fascist Sensibility from Ambler and Greene to Philip Kerr
Our Nazis

Petra Rau

Edinburgh University Press

This chapter outlines the history of ‘fascinating Fascism’ in film and popular culture from the 1960s to the present day. It contextualises this phenomenon within the critical debate over fascist iconography and its legacy, referring to the arguments of Susan Sontag, Klaus Theweleit and Alvin Rosenfeld. It suggests that the Anglo-Saxon interest in Nazism is less motivated by historical inquiry but fuelled by a desire to inhabit a fascist universe in a safe fashion: the audience engages in a form of fascist flânerie. This strategy allows for the projection, and simultaneous disavowal, of fascist longings. Such dark tourism uncomfortably alongside recent attempts to re-instate affect in the engagement with traumatic history, notably in Saul Friedländer’s notion of disbelief in Holocaust historiography and Alison Landsberg’s emphasis on empathy. The re-emergence of fascinating fascism suggests that in a consumer culture in which violence is reduced to aesthetics and entertainment, neither Holocaust piety nor the mandatory mobilisation of affect towards the victims of fascism through commemoration have succeeded in shifting interest from the perpetrator to the victim. On the contrary, the taboo of representing the perpetrator perspective has enabled the fascination with fascism to flourish into historical voyeurism and cultural pornography.

Keywords:   Susan Sontag, Klaus Theweleit, Fascinating Fascism, Holocaust commemoration, Alison Landsberg, Saul Friedländer, Holocaust piety, dark tourism, fascist flânerie, historical voyeurism

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