The Fascist body beautiful and the Imperial crisis in 1930s British writing

P-U. Rau

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This essay deals with the representation of fascist corporeality in British fiction and travel writing about Nazi Germany. A conspicuous feature of contemporaneous accounts of 1930s Germany is the perception of a physical regeneration, which Nazi ideology itself fashions into a palingenetic myth. The British response to this corporeal phenomenology reveals cultural anxieties about imperial decline and physical inadequacy. In travel writing, the fascist body beautiful becomes the focus of a nostalgic desire for the British imperial past. In fiction, it also highlights a growing ambivalence about British imperialism by dramatizing English subjection in sadomasochistic scenarios in which the Anglo-Saxon body can enjoy relief from the white man's burden vis-à-vis German domination. In this way, travel writing and fiction enact border crossings into the fascist state that point to uncomfortable similarities between the legitimizing fictions of racial superiority in British imperialism and in fascist ideology.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)5-35
Number of pages31
JournalJournal of European Studies
Issue number1
Publication statusPublished - 2009


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