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Sex Drives: Fantasies of Fascism in Literary Modernism

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Salvador Dali's autobiography confesses that "Hitler turned me on in the highest," while Sylvia Plath maintains that "every woman adores a Fascist." Susan Sontag's famous observation that art reveals the seamier side of fascism in bondage, discipline, and sexual deviance would certainly appear to be true in modernist and postwar literary texts. How do we account for erotic Salvador Dali's autobiography confesses that "Hitler turned me on in the highest," while Sylvia Plath maintains that "every woman adores a Fascist." Susan Sontag's famous observation that art reveals the seamier side of fascism in bondage, discipline, and sexual deviance would certainly appear to be true in modernist and postwar literary texts. How do we account for eroticized representations of fascism in anti-fascist literature, for sexual desire that escapes the bounds of politics?Laura Frost advances a compelling reading of works by D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Jean Genet, Georges Bataille, Marguerite Duras, and Sylvia Plath, paying special attention to undercurrents of enthrallment with tyrants, uniforms, and domination. She argues that the first generation of writers raised within psychoanalytic discourse found in fascism the libidinal unconscious through which to fantasize acts--including sadomasochism and homosexuality--not permitted in a democratic conception of sexuality without power relations. By delineating democracy's investment in a sexually transgressive fascism, an investment that persists to this day, Frost demonstrates how politics enters into fantasy. This provocative and closely-argued book offers both a fresh contribution to modernist literature and a theorization of fantasy.


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Salvador Dali's autobiography confesses that "Hitler turned me on in the highest," while Sylvia Plath maintains that "every woman adores a Fascist." Susan Sontag's famous observation that art reveals the seamier side of fascism in bondage, discipline, and sexual deviance would certainly appear to be true in modernist and postwar literary texts. How do we account for erotic Salvador Dali's autobiography confesses that "Hitler turned me on in the highest," while Sylvia Plath maintains that "every woman adores a Fascist." Susan Sontag's famous observation that art reveals the seamier side of fascism in bondage, discipline, and sexual deviance would certainly appear to be true in modernist and postwar literary texts. How do we account for eroticized representations of fascism in anti-fascist literature, for sexual desire that escapes the bounds of politics?Laura Frost advances a compelling reading of works by D. H. Lawrence, Virginia Woolf, Jean Genet, Georges Bataille, Marguerite Duras, and Sylvia Plath, paying special attention to undercurrents of enthrallment with tyrants, uniforms, and domination. She argues that the first generation of writers raised within psychoanalytic discourse found in fascism the libidinal unconscious through which to fantasize acts--including sadomasochism and homosexuality--not permitted in a democratic conception of sexuality without power relations. By delineating democracy's investment in a sexually transgressive fascism, an investment that persists to this day, Frost demonstrates how politics enters into fantasy. This provocative and closely-argued book offers both a fresh contribution to modernist literature and a theorization of fantasy.

34 review for Sex Drives: Fantasies of Fascism in Literary Modernism

  1. 4 out of 5

    Kirk

    The big controversy in England over F1 chair Max Mosley's "Nazi sex orgy" (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/spor...) got me wondering what exactly is so erotic about dressing up like a jackbooted thug c. 1942 and going Adolf on some fraulein (or, in Mosley's case, having a fraulein go Ilsa on him). Perhaps, I pondered, there is something dull about good old democracy sex that I'm not aware of? So I found a copy of Frost's book and have been reading it in off moments. The book offers a great hist The big controversy in England over F1 chair Max Mosley's "Nazi sex orgy" (http://www.timesonline.co.uk/tol/spor...) got me wondering what exactly is so erotic about dressing up like a jackbooted thug c. 1942 and going Adolf on some fraulein (or, in Mosley's case, having a fraulein go Ilsa on him). Perhaps, I pondered, there is something dull about good old democracy sex that I'm not aware of? So I found a copy of Frost's book and have been reading it in off moments. The book offers a great history on how sadomasochism became associated with fascism as opposed to, say, a parlimentary monarchy. As you might expect, it's all about power fetishes. The chapter on Lawrence is especially interesting given its focus on the giggle-in-your-shirtsleeve-titled Aaron's Rod---especially when up pops the name of British fasict leader Owen Mosley, who just happened to be ... Max Mosley's dad. (And who says the swastika doesn't fall far from the tree?). Equally interesting is the section on Hans Bellmer, who ambiguously photograped naked women---first dolls, then humans---in the shape of Nazi iconography. (See http://www.nachtkabarett.com/ihvh/img...) (Beatles fans: Bellmer was the inspiration for the famously suppressed "meat" cover of The Beatles Yesterday and Today LP cover. Haven't had time to digest all of Frost, but the point seems to be that the valorization of kink-for-kink's sake subjugates us to the biological determinism of the sex act (i.e. innies and outies). No room for Platonic mutualism here. Oh well. I always thought democracy could accommodate more than the missionary position (Walt Whitman, pansexual, and a great lover of democracy), but maybe not in this day and age when grown men like Mosley (British, admittedly) dress up like Auschwitz prisoners to get their rocks off. Goodbye, humanism.

  2. 5 out of 5

    Don

    Curious book. Unsure why there is such a great deal on the fictional "rape of plucky little Belgium" and the remaining material is quite interesting but highly speculative. Not very well written but the topic is clearly an important one. Curious book. Unsure why there is such a great deal on the fictional "rape of plucky little Belgium" and the remaining material is quite interesting but highly speculative. Not very well written but the topic is clearly an important one.

  3. 4 out of 5

    Peter Tupper

    A fascinating exploration of sexuality and politics, showing the historical trend of linking deviant sexuality (female aggression, rape, homosexuality) with deviant politics (fascism, militarism, genocide).

  4. 5 out of 5

    Margot

  5. 5 out of 5

    Spike Schwab

  6. 4 out of 5

    Brandon Kyme

  7. 5 out of 5

    Salome

  8. 5 out of 5

    Eric

  9. 5 out of 5

    Nelly

  10. 4 out of 5

    Cat

  11. 5 out of 5

    McKinsey Crozier

  12. 4 out of 5

    Tigh

  13. 4 out of 5

    Lorraine

  14. 5 out of 5

    eve wickman

  15. 5 out of 5

    Tara

  16. 4 out of 5

    Ken

  17. 4 out of 5

    Charles

  18. 4 out of 5

    Nancy Brake

  19. 4 out of 5

    Kate O'Hanlon

  20. 4 out of 5

    Jennie

  21. 5 out of 5

    Emily

  22. 4 out of 5

    Aaron Keeler

  23. 5 out of 5

    Robert Burns

  24. 4 out of 5

    Nico Cassanetti

  25. 5 out of 5

    Vania Tr

  26. 5 out of 5

    Sergio Bernales

  27. 5 out of 5

    rebecca

  28. 5 out of 5

    Rabea Ziani

  29. 4 out of 5

    most fertile tabby-chan♡

  30. 5 out of 5

    Jonny Sorgasm

  31. 4 out of 5

    Stephen Sipila

  32. 5 out of 5

    Melissa Turkeri

  33. 5 out of 5

    Peskypesky

  34. 5 out of 5

    iris

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