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Title: Classics and the Second World War : appropriations of antiquity
Author: Fleming, K. M.-A.
Awarding Body: University of Cambridge
Current Institution: University of Cambridge
Date of Award: 2005
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Abstract:
This thesis examines the immediate impact of the Second World War on classics and the classical tradition. I begin with a study of Jean Anouilh’s Antigone. Now understood almost by default (at least outside France) as the tragedy of a Résistante, in fact, Antigone was neither embraced by the Resistance as a sister-in-arms, nor was the play received by the German or collaborationist press as an attack on the Nazi occupiers or the Vichy government. It was, however, politically controversial, becoming the focus of intense debate. In this chapter I examine the significance of the critical response to the play. The importance of this Antigone generally reflects the long tradition of European criticism on the Antigone story, but the historical circumstances of the play’s production and its consequent reception reveal much about the dynamics of the appropriation of antiquity in the twentieth century. My second chapter focuses on Dialektik der Aufklärung: Philosophische Fragmente by Max Horkheimer and Theodor Adorno. To answer the question of how the Enlightenment project could have failed so miserably to present the kind of barbarity typified by fascism, Horkheimer and Adorno turn to the Odyssey. Here those patterns of dominating reason, which recurrently emerge in the European mind, are first to be found and exposed. No doubt the text uses the Odyssey to construct its theory but, beyond this, I argue that Dialektik also offers a radical and damning critique of (German) Philhellenism. Dialektik der Aufklärung is a text which performs its own complicated role in enlightened thinking. The authors’ reading of the Odyssey, in its elusiveness, reflects this tortured dialectic. My final chapter takes its initial focus from Martin Heidegger’s Brief über den Humanismus. The way in which the politics of the 1930s and 40s are refracted through the philosophy of Heidegger has long been a concern for those interested in the intellectual history of the twentieth century. To some extent Heidegger’s Brief constitutes a reflection on his own political engagement with Nazism, particularly in its confrontation of the accusation that his ontological philosophy was practised at the expense of ethics.
Supervisor: Not available Sponsor: Not available
Qualification Name: Thesis (Ph.D.) Qualification Level: Doctoral
EThOS ID: uk.bl.ethos.599072  DOI: Not available
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