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Tyrants Writing Poetry

 

 

Edited by Konstantin Kaminskij and Albrecht Koschorke

Dr. Konstantin Kaminskij is Chair of Slavic Literatures at the University of Konstanz.

Albrecht Koschorke is Professor of German Literature and Literary Studies at the University of Konstanz.

As conventional understanding would have it, the sometimes brutal business of governing can only be carried out at the price of distance from art, while poetic beauty best fl ourishes at a distance from actions executed at the pole of power. Dramatically contradicting this idea is the fact that violent rulers are often the greatest friends of art, and indeed draw attention to themselves as artists.
Why do tyrants of all people often have a particularly poetic vein? Where do terror and fi ction meet? The cultural history of totalitarian regimes is unwrapped in ten case studies, in a comparative perspective. The book focuses on the phenomenon that many of the great despots in history were themselves writers. By studying the artistic ambitions of Nero, Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung, Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Saparmurat Nyyazow and Radovan Karadzic, the studies explore the complicated relationship between poetry and political violence, and open our eyes for the aesthetic dimensions of total power.
The essays make an important contribution to a number of fi elds: the study of totalitarian regimes, cultural studies, biographies of 20th century leaders. They underscore the frequent correlation between tyrannical governance and an excessive passion for language, and prove that the merging of artistic and political charisma tends to justify the claim to absolute power.

Table of contents

Introduction
Albrecht Koschorke and Konstantin Kaminskij

The Tyrant with his Back to the Wall: Nero’s Artistic Self-Expansion
Ulrich Gotter

Benito Mussolini: “Babeuf” (1902)
Poetry and Tyranny: The Case of Benito Mussolini
Richard Bosworth

Joseph Stalin: “Over this Land” (1895)
Stalin’s Writing: From the Romantic Poetry of the Future to the Socialist Realist Prose of the Past
Evgeny Dobrenko

Adolf Hitler: Excerpt from “My Struggle” (1924)
Ideology in Execution: On Hitler’s “Mein Kampf”
Albrecht Koschorke

Kim Il-sung: “Poem Dedicated to Comrade Kim Jong-il in His 50 th Birthday” (1992)
Dead Father’s Living Body: Kim Il-sung’s Seed theory and the North Korean Arts
Suk-Young Kim

Mao Zedong: “Snow” (1936)
Mao Zedong’s Poetry: Form as Statement
Karl-Heinz Pohl

Muammar al-Gaddafi: Excerpt from “Escape to Hell” (1993)
A Poor Despot Descends to Hell: On the Writing and Thinking Styles of Muammar al-Gaddafi
Heiner Lohmann

Saddam Hussein: “Unbind it” (2007)
The Principle of Single-Handed Tyranny: On Saddam Hussein’s Literary Works
Burkhard Müller

Saparmyrat Niyazov: “You are a Turkman” (2001)
ŰSaparmurat Niyazov’s “Ruhnama”: The Invention of Turkmenistan
Riccardo Nicolosi

Radovan Karadžić: “Sarajevo” (1971)
“Nothing is Forbidden in my Faith”: The Metamorphoses of Radovan Karadžić
Slavoj Žižek

References

List of Contributors

294 pages
978-963-386-202-5 paperback
$30.00 / €25.95 / £22.99

 

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