Elfriede Jelinek’s Generic Perversions
Introduction n April 2008, world news was dominated by headlines concern- ing the Fritzl Case. It emerged that Josef Fritzl of Amstetten in the province of Lower Austria had been holding his daugh- ter captive in their basement for 24 years (beginning in 1984) and had fathered seven children with her (for more details on the Fritzl case, see Jüttner). In the wake of the scandal, speculation also cen- tered around Fritzl’s wife, whose claim of having known nothing many related to the Austrians’ collective failure to “know nothing” about what the Nazis were doing in the 1930s and 1940s. As Aus- trian novelist Josef Haslinger pointed out to The Australian: “There is this pretty, shiny surface that Austrians like to show, but it hides a monstrosity…On the surface we have moral standards and enlightened policies, but in the background we have this per- verse world that nobody wants to talk about” (Campbell). It is precisely this “perverse world,” or what Slavoj Žižek iden- tifies as Austria’s “obscene fantasies,” that the work of Elfriede Jelinek investigates. As Žižek puts it: For decades, Jelinek was uncompromisingly describing the violence of men against women in all its modalities, including women’s own libidinal complicity in their victimization. Without mercy, she was bringing to light obscene fantasies that underlie the Middle European respectability, fantasies which crawled into public space in the Fritzl affair which effec- tively has the unreality of a ‘bad’ fairy tale (Žižek; see also Robertson, for...
You are not authenticated to view the full text of this chapter or article.
This site requires a subscription or purchase to access the full text of books or journals.
Do you have any questions? Contact us.Or login to access all content.