Women Write Against Fascism

Literary resistance during and after fascism being in command

A nine week series with
Simone de Beauvoir, Natalia Ginzburg and Elfriede Jelinek

Reading and discussion with the Literature Studies Group of The MEP

The Blood Of Others • Simone de Beauvoir • 1945
The major theme of The Blood of Others is the relation between the free individual and ‘the historically unfolding world of brute facts and other men and women.’ Or as one of Beauvoir’s biographers puts it, her ‘intention was to express the paradox of freedom experienced by an individual and the ways in which others, perceived by the individual as objects, were affected by his actions and decisions. Another theme of the novel, though not unrelated to the first, is the issue of resistance versus collaboration. Beauvoir makes it clear that to not actively resist fascism is to accept it.

Family Lexicon • Natalia Ginzburg • 1963
Family Lexicon is about a family and language—and about storytelling not only as a form of survival but also as an instrument of deception and domination. The book takes the shape of a novel, yet everything is true. “Every time that I have found myself inventing something in accordance with my old habits as a novelist, I have felt impelled at once to destroy [it],” Ginzburg tells us at the start. “The places, events, and people are all real.” The family described is all anti-fascist. The years depicted in this novel are the years of the 30s and 40s, taking place in Turino during the years of Mussolini’s fascism.

Wonderful Wonderful Times • Elfriede Jelinek • 1980
The novel follows a group of four Viennese teens during the 1950s as they violently engage with the previous generation’s Post-World War II legacy. The novel does not use traditional chapter demarcations and focuses largely on the internal thoughts of the characters. Through the portrayal of the Austrian family Witkowski, the reader is able to see the relation between daily fascism with the family and an undigested Austrian National Socialist history. The patriarch, a former Nazi, makes up for his loss of power and one leg by terrorizing his family and abusing his wife.

The MEP LITERATURE GROUP has been meeting to discuss literature since the first days of The Marxist Education Project following a presentation by Roxanne Dunbar-Ortiz on her Indigenous Peoples History of the United States and her recommendation that we take up literature with Leslie Marmon Silko’s Almanac of The Dead. The group has rcompleted readings of Victor Serge’s Unforgiving Years which was followed by Thomas Pynchon’s Gravity’s Rainbow. Our fourth summer of noir is currently underway. Other studies have included novels related to World War I, the depression of the 1930s, and novels on border politics and labor organizing.

 

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60s New Left: National and International

A New Left Begins
2nd sessions
Beginning Tuesday, May 2 — sessions continue through July
with Mitch Abidor, Jenny Brown, Michael Pelias and others

May 2, a reading and discussion of Marat/Sade. Watch the film if you have the opportunity
May 9 and 16, RD Laing, counter-psychiatric / anti-psychiatry. The Politics of Experience and more. Presentations and discussion with Michael Pelias on May 9 and May 16.
May 23 and 30. Paris. May, 1968. These talks will investigate the events May 68 in France through an analysis of the writings of Daniel Cohn-Bendit, one of the most important and interesting of its leaders, as well as the experiences of rank and file militants interviewed by Mitch Abidor for his forthcoming oral history, May Made Me.
Mitchell Abidor is the principal French translator for the Marxists Internet Archive and has published several collections of his translations, among them Jean Jaurès’ Socialist History of the French Revolution and A Raskolnikoff by Emmanuel Bove, and previously untranslated works by Victor Serge and Daniel Guerin, as well as writings from the French Revolution, are forthcoming. His May Made Me will appear in time for the fiftieth anniversary of the May events in France.
June 6 and 13. The music didn’t die. A look at the many cultural influences of the first generation born with the bomb and mutually assured destruction from day one. An overview and music and a reading and discussion of Jeff Nuttal’s Bomb Culture.
The growth of Women’s liberation and the experience of the growth of this mass movement in the 1960s and what this meant for the new left. Jenny Brown from National Women’s Liberation will select and help focus these our discussion at dates to be determined.
Jenny Brown is an organizer with National Women’s Liberation and has been involved in feminist theory and organizing since 1988, first with Gainesville Women’s Liberation in Gainesville, Florida and then with the Redstockings Women’s Liberation Archives for Action, a movement think-tank and archive based in New York. She co-authored the Redstockings book, Women’s Liberation and National Healthcare: Confronting the Myth of America and the Labor Notes book How to Jump Start Your Union: Lessons from the Chicago Teachers along with numerous essays and articles. She was also a co-chair of a Labor Party Local Organizing Committee in Gainesville, Florida and is a former editor of Labor Notes.