La beauté comme violence : la dimension esthétique du fascisme français, 1919-1939 / Michel Lacroix.
Everything about fascism is æsthetic: this is what our thesis aims to demonstrate, based on the example of interwar French Fascism (1919–1939). It studies both discourses, symbolic practices, and literary texts, in order to show the multiple aspects of fascism's æsthetic dimension. Two theories, discourse analysis and sociocriticism, have guided us and permitted us to explain the interaction between æsthetics and ideology. Our thesis is divided in three parts, each one devoted to one of fascism's central themes: the leader, the youth, and the group. In our first chapter, we examine the charismatic leader's many faces, among which are the poet and the warrior. We then show that fascism's discourse on heroism makes of the epic hero an ideological model and that, in its turn, this ideological hero greatly influenced Pierre Drieu la Rochelle's representation of the hero. But, as we indicate, Drieu's novels reveal that the cult of the hero is both a glorification of the self and a self-hatred. In our second chapter we examine fascism's cult of youth such as it was in Italy and Germany, after which we have demonstrated that, in a way, French fascism was an extreme radicalization of the contemporary French discourse on youth. Then, we analyse one of Robert Brasillach's novels which brings to the fore the dark side of fascism's cult of youth: its death drive. In our last chapter, we unearth the æsthetic principles underlying fascism's political spectacle, principles that we also find at the heart of Drieu's texts. We consequently state that Drieu has adopted fascism's æsthetic years before he realized he had fascist ideas. Going a little further yet, we stipulate that Drieu thus reveals that the æsthetic was one of the main roads towards fascism. We then establish, in our final conclusion, a synthetic description of fascist æsthetics: an æsthetics of pathos, exhibition, sublime, violence, and death.
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