Journal Article

Beyond Repression: German Women’s War History and Hysteria in Mavis Gallant’s “O Lasting Peace” and “An Alien Flower”

Doris Wolf

in Contemporary Women's Writing

Volume 5, issue 1, pages 1-17
Published in print January 2011 | ISSN: 1754-1476
Published online January 2011 | e-ISSN: 1754-1484 | DOI: https://dx.doi.org/10.1093/cwwrit/vpq001
Beyond Repression: German Women’s War History and Hysteria in Mavis Gallant’s “O Lasting Peace” and “An Alien Flower”

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This paper examines how two of Mavis Gallant’s German stories, “O Lasting Peace” and “An Alien Flower,” engage with questions of Aryan German women’s culpability for the Nazi past and the longevity of fascist sentiment in domestic spaces in Germany after the war. Using recent feminist historical scholarship on Aryan women in the Third Reich and the postwar period, the paper reveals how Gallant’s main female characters are not simply innocent victims of the past and outlines the multiple and often differing ways that they continue to enact their guilt. Yet, by using hysteria as a primary trope in both stories, Gallant also opens a space for her characters to express their ambivalence about their roles, thereby offering a more complicated view of the roles and responsibilities of German women in the Nazi and postwar periods than simple notions of guilt can encompass.

Journal Article.  8586 words. 

Subjects: Literary Studies (20th Century onwards)

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