- Paperback: 208 pages
- Publisher: The Feminist Press at CUNY; Feminist Press ed. edition (Jan. 1 1993)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0935312560
- ISBN-13: 978-0935312560
- Product Dimensions: 12.7 x 1.5 x 19.6 cm
- Shipping Weight: 249 g
- Average Customer Review: 3 customer reviews
- Amazon Bestsellers Rank: #261,334 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
Swastika Night Paperback – Jan 11 1993
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"Swastika Night goes beyond the specifics of Nazi ideology to a nightmare world in which men are valued for their brutality and violence and women are regarded only as degraded breeders. The real nightmare is how closely these underlying views conform to conventional contemporary notions of masculinity and femininity. Thanks to the Feminist Press for bringing us this brilliant, chilling dystopia, written under a male pseudonym and demonstrating once more that Anonymous was a woman." Ann J. Lane, author of To Herland and Beyond
"Swastika Night goes beyond the specifics of Nazi ideology to a nightmare world in which men are valued for their brutality and violence and women are regarded only as degraded breeders. The real nightmare is how closely these underlying views conform to conventional contemporary notions of masculinity and femininity. Thanks to the Feminist Press for bringing us this brilliant, chilling dystopia, written under a male pseudonym and demonstrating once more that Anonymous was a woman." ―Ann J. Lane, author of To Herland and Beyond
About the Author
KATHARINE BURDEKIN (1896-1963) published more than ten novels. DAPHNE PATAI is professor of Brazilian literature and womens studies at the University of Massachusetts, Amherst.
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Burdekin depicts a world that has been divided into the Nazi Empire (Europe and Africa) and the equally militaristic Japanese Empire (Asia, Australia, and the Americas), a demarcation that raises some interesting issues all by itself. Obviously in the Nazi Empire Hitler is venerated as a god and all books and documents from the past have been destroyed so that the Nazi version of history is all that remains (the similarity is more to the efforts of the ancient Egytpian pharoahs than Orwell's idea of the continuous revision of the public record). With all of the Jews having been exterminated at the start of the Nazi era, it is now Christians who are the reviled object of Nazi persecution, as well as those who are "Not Blood." Burdekin's protagonist is an Englishman named Alfred (suggesting parallels to England's legendary king Alfred the Great), who rejects the violence, brutality, and militarism of Nazi ideology because it results not in boys rather than men.
However, the fact that Hitler lost World War II does not mean that "Swastika Night" does not speak to contemporary readers in an important way. After all, we have not been progressing towards the dystopian vision of George Orwell and "Nineteen Eighty-Four" is still the mos widely read dystopian novel around. Burdekin's novel also explores the connection between gender and political power. Part of Hitler's deification is because he was never contaminated by contact with women, and In contrast to the "cult of masculinity," Burdekin depicts a "Reduction of Women" in which all women are kept ignorant and apathetic, their own function being for purposes of breeding. She clearly say the male apotheosis of women as mothers as being the first step on the slippery slope to the degradation of women to mere breeding animals. Despite the obvious comparisons to "Nineteen Eighty-Four," it is the contrast between the womanless world of "Swastika Night" and the woman-centered utopia of Charlotte Perkins Gilman's "Herland" (or even Virginia Woolf's "Three Guinesas," published in 1938) that most students of utopian literature are going to want to pursue.
Once World War II began "Swastika Night" became a historical footnote, especially since its pacifism would have been considered an impractical response to Hitler once war was declared. But today the feminist arguments regarding hypertrophied masculinity and the correlating reduction of women that are as much a part of the work as the condemnation of Nazi ideology makes it well worth consideration by contemporary readers.