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The Total Work of Art in European Modernism$
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David Roberts

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780801450235

Published to Cornell Scholarship Online: August 2016

DOI: 10.7591/cornell/9780801450235.001.0001

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The Will to Power as Art: The Third Reich

The Will to Power as Art: The Third Reich

(p.232) 11 The Will to Power as Art: The Third Reich
The Total Work of Art in European Modernism

David Roberts

Cornell University Press

This chapter focuses on the path to the totalitarian total work in Germany. It discusses Benjamin’s views on the Fascist aestheticization of politics, which has its origins in Nietzsche and fi-de-siècle decadence but ends with Hitler’s seizure of power. It then argues that in order to understand Hitler after 1933, to understand the totalitarian dimensions of “aestheticization,” we need, on the one hand, the German counterpart to d’Annunzio and Marinetti—Jünger, aesthete, war hero, Nietzschean—and on the other, the Nazi mobilization of the masses through the medium of film. Jünger completes the Nietzsche-inspired trajectory from the overcoming of decadence in prewar France and Italy to the postwar vision of the totalitarian state as total work of art in Der Arbeiter (1932). Its analogue in film is the monumentalizing of the masses in Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will (1935).

Keywords:   Germany, totalitarian total work, art, avant-garde, Walter Benjamin, Fascism, Ernst Jünger, Der Arbeiter, Nazis, film

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