"Postfascist Fantasies" examines the cultural function of the novels of communist authors in East Germany from a psychoanalytic angle. Other critics of this genre have argued that these socialist realist fictions were monolithic attempts to translate communist dogma into the realm of aesthetics. Julia Hell argues to the contrary that they were in fact complex fictions, sharing the theme of opposition to fascism, which made antifascism the founding discourse of the German Democratic Republic. Employing an approach informed both by Slavoj Zizek's work on the communist's sublime body and by British psychoanalytic feminism's concern with feminine subjectivity, Hell concentrates on works written by exiled authors and authors tied to the resistance movement in the first part of the book. In part two, she strives in particular to understand the ways in which the writing of Christa Wolf, the GDR's most prominent author, is engaged in this reconstruction of symbolic power. By focusing on the unconscious fantasies about postfascist body and postfascist voice that suffuse Wolf's (and others') texts, Hell radically re-conceptualises the author's notion of subjective authenticity.
Since this notion occupies a key position in previous literary-historical accounts of GDR culture, Hell's psychoanalytic approach problematises the established literary model of an 'authentic feminine voice' that gradually liberates itself from that country's dominant ideological narrative. Far from operating solely on a political level, claims Hell, the novels of Wolf and others were intricate family sagas portraying a psychology that represented the complex social dynamics in the GDR. She shows how the psychodynamics of GDR literature steadily evolved through its representations of the family, describing a paternal narrative organized around the figure of the communist father as antifascist hero. "Postfascist Fantasies" will interest literary critics and historians of German literature and will be widely read by politically minded scholars in other literatures. It will also be a valuable text for students and scholars in feminist and gender studies.
Publisher: Duke University Press