The Aesthetics of Hate: Far-Right Intellectuals, Antisemitism, and Gender in 1930s France

The Aesthetics of Hate: Far-Right Intellectuals, Antisemitism, and Gender in 1930s France

Sandrine Sanos

Language: English

Pages: 384

ISBN: 0804774579

Format: PDF / Kindle (mobi) / ePub


The Aesthetics of Hate examines the writings of a motley collection of interwar far-right intellectuals, showing that they defined Frenchness in racial, gendered, and sexual terms. A broad, ambitious cultural and intellectual history, the book offers a provocative reinterpretation of a topic that has long been the subject of controversy.

In works infused with rhetorics of abjection, disgust, and dissolution, such writers as Maulnier, Brasillach, Céline, and Blanchot imagined the nation through figures deemed illegitimate or inferior—Jews, colonial subjects, homosexuals, women. Sanos argues that these intellectuals offered an "aesthetics of hate," reinventing a language of far-right nationalism by appealing to the realm of beauty and the sublime for political solutions.

By acknowledging the constitutive relationship of antisemitism and colonial racism at the heart of these canonical writers' nationalism, this book makes us rethink how aesthetics and politics function, how race is imagined and defined, how gender structured far-right thought, and how we conceive of French intellectualism and fascism.

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insurrection and revolution, they usually laid the blame on the illegitimate republican and left-wing government. For instance, Georges Roux warned, “It is possible that this new government will bring an external war upon us. It may be likely that it will bring us to the brink of a French civil war, [but] it is certain that it is going to cause an Algerian civil war.”179 Still, the articles usually appeared amid writings celebrating the joys and exotic pleasures provided by the colonies. They

to Céline and the Politics of Difference, 7. 131. Mosse, The Image of Man, 14. 132. Spears argues, as I do, for a reading of Céline’s pamphlets as driven by an obsessional concern with virile masculinity, and situating the fantasized and racialized figure of the Jew within this logic. While he eloquently offers an analysis of the relationship between sexuality and Céline’s writing, noting the “virilized call for arms Céline issues in his pamphlets,” the association between Jews and blacks,

different manifestations of antisemitism within a colonial framework seriously, and here in colonial Algeria, see Cole, “Antisémitisme et situation coloniale pendant l’entre-deux-guerres en Algérie.” Indeed, as I have shown with Je Suis Partout, French far-right antisemitism articulated itself both through a colonial imaginary and always with an eye to what was happening in the colonies, Algeria especially. 39. See, for instance, Scullion, “Style, Subversion, Modernity,” 184. 40. Stoler, Race

politique de l’ordre des corps. Paris: Seuil, 1998. Noiriel, Gérard. Le creuset français: Histoire de l’immigration, XIXe–XXe siècles. Paris: Seuil, 1988. . Les origines républicaines de Vichy. Paris: Hachette Littératures, 1999. . Immigration, antisémitisme, et racisme en France (XIXe–XXe siècle): Discours publics, humiliations privées. Paris: Fayard, 2007. Nord, Philip. “Catholic Culture in Interwar France.” French Politics, Culture, and Society 21, no. 3 (Fall 2003): 1–20. . “Pierre

ways—a fact that has been the topic of many scholarly discussions and heated polemics. Like the journalists and critics they associated with in the 1930s, Blanchot and Céline provided an answer to the supposed Jewish contamination of the nation and the self by arguing that aesthetics was not just a privileged realm for political battles but could operate as politics. Specifically, they called for the dehistoricization of literature. Through their embrace of the literary as an autonomous realm

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