French Narratives of War and Occupation
This book is the winner of the Peter Lang Young Scholars Competition in French Studies 2011.
Conclusion From Guilt to Shame and Back
At the start of this book, I examined the dif ferences between guilt and shame. In this concluding chapter, I will brief ly consider how this study of wartime shame might elucidate the problem of guilt in the war and Occupation context and outline the implications of the legacy. In his 2013 work, Aurais-je été un resistant ou un bourreau?, literary critic and psycho- analyst Pierre Bayard embarks on an extended meditation on the circum- stances of war and Occupation and the question of whether, if he had been alive at the time, he would have been a resister or a persecutor, literary critic and psychoanalyst, Pierre Bayard argues that the attitude of attentisme, of going with mainstream attitude of seeing what would happen, was typical of the majority of French citizens. He cites the example of the Milgram experiment carried out at Yale in the 1960s, where subjects were required to administer electric shock treatment to a person in another room and to continue doing this as the screams of pain and the intensity of the shock increased, to point out that the attitude of going along with the status quo is a general trend in human behaviours. Bayard notes that attitudes of heroism and those of les Justes or les sauveteurs, terms borrowed from Tzvetan Todorov’s Face à l’extrême are exceptions rather than the rule.1 In line with this observation Henry Rousso states that the complex resides in acknowledging that the Resistance was the work of a few...
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