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A Legacy of Shame

French Narratives of War and Occupation

Ruth Kitchen

A Legacy of Shame is the first in-depth study of shame in French narratives of the Second World War and the Nazi Occupation of France. Wartime shame continues to be a recurrent theme in literature and film and is an ongoing topic of cultural and political debate and yet the problem of shame has only been mentioned incidentally by cultural critics. In the concluding lines of Le Syndrome de Vichy, Henry Rousso locates the ‘syndrome’, the continual return of wartime memories in the present, in the postwar desire to restore national unity and identity. This book proposes that beneath Rousso’s syndrome lies a disintegrated sense of shame. Although this shame is painfully exposed in narratives, it remains unacknowledged as a collective, national memory and has consequently continued to trouble postwar constructions of national identity and history. By investigating narrative expressions of shame and theories of shame produced by the events of this historical moment, the book examines the issues that this legacy presents for cultural history, collective memory and, implicitly, for postwar national identity.

This book is the winner of the Peter Lang Young Scholars Competition in French Studies 2011.

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abjection 54, 79, 156, 166 abortion 1, 29, 33–56 absurd, the 47 af faire de femmes, Une (Chabrol) 33–4, 37–8, 41–2 Agamben, Giorgio 17, 24–8, 69, 84–7, 107 agency 11, 20, 24–8, 65–6, 104, 116, 169, 171 lack of 45–6, 84, 163 see also freedom Algerian War of Independence 6, 122, 128, 129, 135, 138, 139, 140, 141, 149, 151, 153, 158, 161, 165, 171 Amati-Sas, Silvia 86–7, 91 ambiguity 33, 43, 46–8, 44–52, 53–6, 67, 73–6, 78, 86, 125, 135, 166–7, 177 ethics of 53–5, 79 amnesty 6, 132–6, 139, 144, 153 Antelme, Robert L’espèce humaine 24, 84–6, 98, 101 Assouline, Pierre La cliente 59–60, 62, 63, 67–8, 69–72, 74, 77–8 atomic bomb 123 Au bon beurre (Dutourd) 2 Badiou, Alain 162–3, 169–70 Barbie, Klaus 7, 98, 129, 140–1 Batailles sur la route (Dard) 59 Bayard, Pierre 175 Beauvoir, Simone de 32–3, 53–5, 74, 86, 122 Le deuxième sexe 40, 44, 46–7, 54 Pour une morale de l’ambiguïté 47–9, 75, 79 Les mandarins 30, 148–9, 151–2, 158–60, 165–70 ‘Oeil pour oeil’ 75–6, 115 Le sang des autres 33, 43–50 being-for-others 47, 53–4, 154 Benedict, Ruth 16 Benjamin, Walter 162 Bettelheim, Bruno 83 Bewes, Timothy 21 Blanchot, Maurice 19, 52–3, 56, 117, 123 L’ecriture du désastre 52–3, 95...

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