Sunday, June 16, 2013

Gregor von Rezzori's Oedipus At Stalingrad

I re-read Gregor von Rezzori’s novel Oedipus at Stalingrad in early May—it’s been about 18 years since my first read. The book, written in the 1950s, drops Freud into the heart of late 1930s Germany. The protagonist, Traugott von Jassilkowski, gets married, then stews in a typical Freudian conflict involving his “tendency toward debasement.” The novel’s obsession with Freud relates, rekindles and re-examines Wilhelm Reich’s Mass Psychology of Fascism, a prominent reading of the German war effort and the post-war reconstruction. The narrator, a gabby barfly well-up on Freud, excels at drawing parallels between textbook cases and the debased tendencies of the era:

“It would be both conceivable and desirable to reinvigorate stunted erotic instincts with new impulses—perhaps through the planned use on a broad popular basis of the psyche’s masochistic urge, which might alleviate at least for a while the catastrophic impotence afflicting manhood today.” 

Rather than clutter this blog, I'm linking to the very long essay at Ex.-X's twin blogsite here:

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