French Fascism and History in 'Speck's Idea'
Studies in Canadian Literature 40.2, 2016
29 Pages Posted: 22 Aug 2015 Last revised: 12 Jan 2016
Date Written: August 20, 2015
“Speck’s Idea” is Mavis Gallant’s most widely published short story and arguably her masterpiece. Through its depiction of its central character the story dramatizes how a segment of France’s population could tolerate and condone fascism for reasons other than an inherent attraction to fascist ideas. These reasons include indifference and self-interest. Gallant’s story thus illustrates how fascism drew not merely on ideological, but also on opportunistic, motivations. The story also depicts pitfalls of understanding particular to the contemporary, post-fascist age. They include explanations of fascism that emphasize the uniquely monstrous character of its adherents, or denunciations of the work of fascist intellectuals that are so prejudicial that they take a step toward fascism in the very moment of opposing it.
Keywords: Mavis Gallant, fascism, French history
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