Monday, April 16, 2007

Holliday reading

Well, I spent Easter reading a genuinely fascist novel. No, not a term of abuse, a genuine novel with fascistic sympathies from 1938. Dennis Wheatley's The Golden Spaniard.

It was worth the read - although it is mentioned on his Wikipedia article as having divided his core band of "modern musketeer" characters - that was in fact merely a device to implicate and demolish liberal sympathy for the Republican cause in the Spanish Civil War.

Louis Althusser thought that through fiction ideology could stand revealed - a rather soulless perspective on literature if you ask me - but this novel does illustrate a fantasy fiction world of a British fascist (although Wheatley assisted the British war effort, I don't think that dints his pre-war flirtation with the ideology).

It was fascinating to see how the ideology of fascis dovetailed neatly with the typical adventure story - and the absolute ruthlessness the author presumed his readers would find acceptable (as well as the sheer double standards of atrocity calling).

I can't, of course, condemn a writer for being partisan, after all, I read partisan leftist literature, but it is interesting to see the other side's point of view and how they construct their case. Both sides justified violence and atrocity by referrence to the threat from the other - the only thing that divided them, after the means, was the end.

The book stands as an interesting peice of literary archaeology that helps parse the debates over such things as Israel today. It is not that the study of literature reveals ideology concretised, but it reveals the working of rhetoric, an essential tool for intellectual self-defence.

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