'This Anguish, like a Kind of Intimate Song': Resistance in Women's Literature of World War II

By L. Leigh Westerfield | Go to book overview

Chapter Five
Conventional Women and Revolutionary Movements

Elle n’était pas faite pour être la femme d’un
héros. Elle n’était pas faite pour tendre un
bouclier à son mari ou à son fils, en lui
disant: ‘Reviens dessus ou dessous.’1

[Anne, in Edith Thomas, ‘FTP’]

Not only the political orientations of the larger, more prominent resistance networks on both the left and the right in France and Germany but also the focus on violence, in the French communist organizations in particular and among the German communist and so- cialist groups and the 20 July conspirators to a lesser extent, added to the ‘masculine’ char- acter of resistance. Women contributed to the work of some of these networks, more often in support capacities rather than as leaders or combatants, and their actions helped the large-scale movements accomplish their goals. For the most part, women found little cause to question their assigned roles since they perceived their own identities and existence as separate from the realms of combat and politics. Indeed, as their oral testimony and written narratives bear out, even women who had long been active in the communist and socialist movements, and who regarded the resistance as an extension of their prior political com- mitments, discuss their illegal activities in terms of the personal and private concerns with which females have long been identified.

In Edith Thomas’s short story ‘FTP’ and Anna Seghers’s novel Das siebte Kreuz resis- tance is cut from a political cloth rarely seen in the writings of women authors. These writ- ers fashion a militant metaphor for resistance out of the political discourses of the commu- nist underground organizations in which both women participated. The values of justice, peace, freedom, and class solidarity motivate the resisters in these two narratives. Opposi- tion to Nazism is equated with a battle or a struggle, specifically the class struggle, which draws into its orbit individuals from all levels of society. The aim of resistance is to unite these diverse individuals into a single force that will liberate the country and lay the groundwork for the communist millennium in France, and revive a spiritually defeated peo- ple that can strike back collectively against the Hitler regime in Germany.

What is the tenor of women’s voices when they narrate the resistance of females within the framework of a discourse informed by politics, revolution, and national concerns? For all of Thomas’s and Seghers’s personal commitment to Communism and their determina- tion to construct these narratives around an understanding of resistance as a militant fight in the service of abstract ideals, they nevertheless do not adopt the standard communist dis- course in its entirety. The authors do rely on the bywords of communist ideology and even

1 (She wasn’t made to be a hero’s wife. She wasn’t made to hand a shield to her husband or son, saying to him: ‘Return on it or under it’) Edith Thomas, ‘FTP’, in Contes d’Auxois (Stories by Auxois) (Paris: Éditions de Minuit, 1943), pp.51-60 (pp.55-56).

-99-

Notes for this page

Add a new note
If you are trying to select text to create highlights or citations, remember that you must now click or tap on the first word, and then click or tap on the last word.
One moment ...
Default project is now your active project.
Project items
Notes
Cite this page

Cited page

Style
Citations are available only to our active members.
Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

(Einhorn, 1992, p. 25)

(Einhorn 25)

(Einhorn 25)

1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

Note: primary sources have slightly different requirements for citation. Please see these guidelines for more information.

Cited page

Bookmark this page
'This Anguish, like a Kind of Intimate Song': Resistance in Women's Literature of World War II
Table of contents

Table of contents

Settings

Settings

Typeface
Text size Smaller Larger Reset View mode
Search within

Search within this book

Look up

Look up a word

  • Dictionary
  • Thesaurus
Please submit a word or phrase above.
Print this page

Print this page

Why can't I print more than one page at a time?

Help
Full screen
Items saved from this book
  • Bookmarks
  • Highlights & Notes
  • Citations
/ 236

matching results for page

    Questia reader help

    How to highlight and cite specific passages

    1. Click or tap the first word you want to select.
    2. Click or tap the last word you want to select, and you’ll see everything in between get selected.
    3. You’ll then get a menu of options like creating a highlight or a citation from that passage of text.

    OK, got it!

    Cited passage

    Style
    Citations are available only to our active members.
    Buy instant access to cite pages or passages in MLA 8, MLA 7, APA and Chicago citation styles.

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn, 1992, p. 25).

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences." (Einhorn 25)

    "Portraying himself as an honest, ordinary person helped Lincoln identify with his audiences."1

    1. Lois J. Einhorn, Abraham Lincoln, the Orator: Penetrating the Lincoln Legend (Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 1992), 25, http://www.questia.com/read/27419298.

    Cited passage

    Thanks for trying Questia!

    Please continue trying out our research tools, but please note, full functionality is available only to our active members.

    Your work will be lost once you leave this Web page.

    Buy instant access to save your work.

    Already a member? Log in now.

    Search by... Author
    Show... All Results Primary Sources Peer-reviewed

    Oops!

    An unknown error has occurred. Please click the button below to reload the page. If the problem persists, please try again in a little while.