Nazi Literature in the Americas Summary
Nazi Literature in the Americas has the appearance of a biographical encyclopedia. The entries, varying in length from half a page to nearly thirty pages, discuss writers from throughout the two continents and from early in the twentieth century to as late as 2029, with Argentina receiving the most attention (eight entries) and the United States placing second (seven entries). There are writers of nearly all genres. Through most of the book the tone is detached, judicious, and scholarly. Gradually, however, as the author discusses thirty-one authors with fascist sensibilities under thirteen headings, it becomes clear to the reader that he is far from detached and that his purpose is ridicule. Moreover, he becomes involved in their world despite himself.
The headings provide a major clue to the author’s attitude. The first is benign, “The Mendiluce Clan,” about a wealthy poet and essayist who becomes a friend of Adolf Hitler, and, along with her daughter and son, are doyens of nationalistic, conservative literature in Argentina. As the book progresses, the headings turn increasingly sinister, for instance, “Poètes Maudits,” “The Aryan Brotherhood,” “The Infamous Ramírez Hoffman,” and finally the “Epilogue for Monsters,” which lists secondary writers, publishing houses, and books. The writers themselves, despite their varying styles and genres, reflect a reactionary vision of utopia, using such jingoist jargon as “golden age,” “new order,” “American awakening,” “will,” “new dawn,” “rebirth of the nation,” “resurrection,” and “the absolute.” Their underlying yearning is for autocracy based, variously, on race, creed, ideology, or class.
While espousing “family values” and other standards of conduct, few of the writers practice what they preach. Herein lies the book’s mordant humor. These writers are violent (soccer thugs, mercenaries, torturers, and murderers), sexually promiscuous and deviant, sometimes ignorant, and treacherous. As the author comments about one writer, “Real life can sometimes bear an unsettling resemblance to nightmares.” About Max Mirabilis, a writer who plagiarizes and lies shamelessly, the author observes that he learned two methods to achieve what he...
(The entire section is 532 words.)