Tyrants Writing Poetry
Why do tyrants - of all people - often have poetic aspirations? Where do terror and prose meet? This book contains nine case studies that compare the cultural history of totalitarian regimes. The essays focus not on the arts, literature or architecture but on the phenomenon that many of history's great despots considered themselves talented writers.
By studying the artistic ambitions of Nero, Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung, Gaddafi, Saddam Hussein, Saparmurat Niyazov and Radovan Karadzic, the authors explore the complicated relationship between poetry and political violence, and provide a fascinating look at the aesthetic dimensions of total power.
The essays make an important contribution to a number of fields: the study of totalitarian regimes, cultural studies, and biographies of 20th century leaders. They underscore the frequent correlation between tyrannical governance and an excessive passion for language, and demonstrate that the combination of artistic and political charisma is often effective in the quest for absolute power.
About the Authors
"Modern tyrants like Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, Mao Zedong, Kim Il-sung, Saddam Hussein and others thought of themselves as talented intellectuals who had lessons to teach the world through their literary and artistic achievements. What effect did this have on their policies? How much was the terror they rained on their people part of their sense of performance? This perceptive, fascinating work explores the writings of these and other tyrants ranging from Roman Emperor Nero to the murderous leader of the Bosnian Serbs Radovan Karadžić. It is a sobering and enlightening book that needs to be read to better understand these monsters."—Daniel Chirot
"A fascinating collection of illuminating contributions on the aesthetic passions of political sociopaths. Mussolini, Stalin, Hitler, Mao, et al., appear as they really were: a gallery of monsters engaged in romantic self-aggrandizement. Underneath the metaphors we discover the swamp of egocentric obsessions with unlimited power. Highly recommended to all those who want to grasp the secrets of the dictatorial mind, this book reveals much of the inner life of the soulless tyrants."—Vladimir Tismaneanu
|Central European University Press|
Other Titles in 20th century history: c 1900 to c 2000