The Racism of the Nazi Lager: The Boundaries Between Reality and Fiction in Moravia’s Dio Kurt

Lucia Dell'Aia

Abstract


This paper aims to explore the question of racism in the Nazi concentration camp as it emerges in Moravia’s 1968 play Dio Kurt. The focus of Moravia’s play is on Oedipus, a Jew detained in a Nazi concentration camp, and Fate, personified by the camp commander, Colonel Kurt, who forces Oedipus-Saul and his family to enact in reality the Sophoclean tragedy Oedipus Rex. Through a series of barbarous machinations derived by Kurt, the boundaries between reality and fiction that characterize a work of fiction and the artistic process more generally, are surpassed. If, as Levinas maintains, in Reflections on the Philosophy of Hitlerism (1934), racism and Nazism question the very essence of humanity in man in the moment in which they ‘enslave’ being to the body, and if, as Agamben asserts in Homo sacer (1995), the concentration camp is the biopolitical space par excellence, the interpretive consequences on a reading of Moravia’s play are manifold. In Dio Kurt, the Jews are reduced to a biological state, to ‘bare life’ to use Benjamin’s term, through the manipulation of the artistic tradition that is transformed into an instrument in the annihilation of humanity precisely when it loses its status of cathartic fiction.


Keywords


State of exception; Threshold; Concentration camp; The tragic Biopolitcs

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DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.13125/2039-6597/117

NBN: http://nbn.depositolegale.it/urn%3Anbn%3Ait%3Aunica-17542

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