Australian Journal of French Studies

Historical Emplotment in the Crisis of Identity under Nazi Occupation

Australian Journal of French Studies (2014), 51, (1), 49–61.

Abstract

Even within the small section of Belgian society made up by francophone intellectuals sympathetic to the Nazi occupation of the country, writers had very varied views of Belgium's place in the emerging world order. This article examines the work of four writers, Raymond De Becker, Pierre Nothomb, Louis Carette and Michel de Ghelderode, alongside some polemical writing by Léon Degrelle, the leader of Rex, and examines how their different ideological approaches lead them to interpret Belgium's past differently. Key to this analysis is Hayden White's theory of emplotment, which associates particular narrative modes (Comedy, Tragedy, Satire and Romance) with particular ideologies (Conservatism, Radicalism, Liberalism and Anarchism). The narrative affinities predicted by White are largely borne out by this examination of writers who are not historians but are telling stories about history.

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Author details

Emerson, Catherine