Littell’s “The Kindly Ones” and the ‘Aesthetic Moment’ of Max Aue: A Socio-aesthetical Approach

Daan Rutten
Utrecht University, Netherlands

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Ingår i: Current Issues in European Cultural Studies; June 15-17; Norrköping; Sweden 2011

Linköping Electronic Conference Proceedings 62:49, s. 475-484

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Publicerad: 2011-11-22

ISBN: 978-91-7519-993-1

ISSN: 1650-3686 (tryckt), 1650-3740 (online)


Almost three decades after the publication of ‘Male fantasies’; the fascinating cultural and psychological inquiry into the minds of German Freikorps officers in the interwar period by cultural sociologist Klaus Theweleit; the American-French author Jonathan Littell wrote the bestseller novel The Kindly Ones (original: Les Bienveillantes). The novel recounts the experiences of the fictional SS officer Max Aue and Littell is clearly well informed through former historical and cultural research; and especially through the research of Theweleit. Still; the novel The Kindly Ones rattled the cage after it was released in 2006. The book managed to win two important French awards; though multiple literary critics reviewed the book in shock; criticizing the novel with adjectives as monstrous and perverse. Why is the aesthetic fantasy; apparently; more forceful and appalling than the truth?


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