Erotizam u američkoj i srpskoj međuratnoj prozi o Prvom svetskom ratu
MentorPopović Srdanović, Dubravka
Committee membersVukčević, Radojka
MetadataShow full item record
Doctoral dissertation EROTICISM IN INTER-WAR AMERICAN AND SERBIAN FICTION ON WORLD WAR I aims to examine the problem of eroticism in the context of the modernist and avant-garde war fiction in American and Serbian inter-war period. For this reason, a special attention is focused on the French philosopher and theorist of eroticism Georges Bataille’s typology which discerns three contingent types of eroticism: physical eroticism, emotional eroticism and religious (sacred) eroticism. This typology is of fundamental importance because Bataille insists on the unbreakable bond between eroticism and war. He argues that war, sacrifice and orgy spring from the same origin connected to a specific dynamics of prohibitions opposing the expressions of the existing human killing and sexual forces. Accordingly, war can be considered a form of social institution inspired by humane dialectics of eroticism as a contradictory experience of disturbing discontinuity and irrational desire of its overcoming ...in the devastating continuity. Based upon these assumptions this study shows that, contrary to the traditional form of imagining the war as a space of heroic utopia, in the works of postwar writers of the youngest generation war was interpreted as a form of liminal order dominated by the wanton and lewd, sensuous and egoistic, and significantly determined by the fantasy of living out suppressed passions and desires trespassing all the boundaries of concern. By proving the operability of Bataille’s fundamental thesis in the war imagination of the American and Serbian interwar fiction, this study questions a widely accepted critical position that the authors (often witnesses of the war devastations) describe the war from the perspective of total alienation, as something hostile and absolutely foreign to human nature. The conclusions of this research are, therefore, articulated in accordance with a new paradigm observed in the critical and theoretical works on inter-war American and Serbian fiction on World War I, in the late 20th and early 21st century. The new paradigm is unquestionably based on a visible effort to demystify the cultural myth of “Lost Generation,” i.e. to make problematic reading the traditional critical position that the most important literary works of the American and Serbian inter-war fiction on World War I represent authentically anti-war texts, primarily inspired by horrors of war and pacifist convictions of authors. Although “defeatism,” “disillusion,” and “defeat” as well as “anti-war,” “anti-militarist,” and ”pacifist” function as widely recognized labels in the construction of the “Lost generation” cultural myth and its “fiction of protest,” the majority of contemporary researchers believe that this narrative discourse has never left the distinctive area of the so called masculine writing. Despite of the extremely critical perspective on the war destruction, absurdity, horrors of mass atrocities, and impersonal technological massacre as well as the defeat of the traditional epic ideology and heroic myth of patriarchal culture, contemporary critics also insist that these literary works uncompromisingly reinterpret traditional awareness of the war as an exclusively male space, and “war” experience as typically male. Any form of narrative transposition insisting upon authentic representation of complex war experience, tending at the same time to repudiate different patterns of ideological molding and propaganda, cannot fail observing war as a form of liminal order determined by a fantasy of acting beyond all norms and prohibitions of everyday life in state of peace. That is why this study insists that unmasking of the traditional canon forms that glorify war and heroic warrior ethics does not imply distancing from phallic eroticism and hegemonic aspects of martial masculinity. Although eroticism is used as a tool for unmasking traditional romantic and epic forms of war imagination, it also shapes a new kind of hero, a warrior whose activities are primarily inspired by ephemeral desires, fears, complexes and repressed fervors, and not by defense of epic values and the common wealth of the community. Thus, by focusing on the body and sexuality in the war experience narrative transposition, authors of the American and Serbian inter-war fiction undoubtedly emphasize a distance from traditional patterns of literary war transpositions and epic morality, but not from the phallic matrices of sexual behavior as paradigmatic values of a patriarchal culture. Therefore, their protest should not be judged as a radical rejection or denial, but rather as striving for aesthetic revaluation of the world as well as traditional patterns that do not match the sensibility of a modern man. Based on the observed dynamics of the reevaluation of the traditional patterns in the narrative transposition of the immediate war experience, this study proposes that the narrative discourse of the American “fiction of protest” and the Serbian modernist/avant-garde fiction on World War I should be determined as “anti-utopian” rather than as “anti-war” or “pacifist”. This proposal is founded in the fact that the primary intention of the American and Serbian writers was not a promotion of an utopian idea of “the world without war,” but contrary to that, demythologization and desacralization of the war as a space of epic utopia. Exposure of the universal unfoundedness of dominant myths of national ideologies, as well as emphasis on a fatal dynamics of the human being permanently torn between prohibitions and transgressions, which lie in the foundation of eroticism as a specific phenomenon of rebellion, provocation and unmasking, condition these authors inability to generate any utopian model. Their writings shape, on the other hand, a distinctive avant-garde model of optimal projection fundamentally opposed to any idea of the closed or ideally structured utopian space. Since it unambiguously defines a process of dynamic events and structural changes, the given model undoubtedly opens up possibilities for different problem-based approaches, as well as it offers an opportunity to articulate the conclusions in line with the new paradigm of reading the most important works of inter-war American and Serbian fiction on World War I.