This Week’s Features: WWII

© Michael Curtiz, Casablanca, 1942

Yesterday marked the 80th anniversary of the outbreak of WWII, one of the most infernal periods in human history ever known to us. Apart from the infamous rule of Nazi, the decline of Communist Eastern European states led to a national identity crisis of many. Suffering from post-war trauma, many great literary works emerged from the war. Many artists underwent identity crisis like others and had no trust in any political regimes. Most significantly, the sense of fragmentation and isolation gave rise to the notion of artificial political truth and fluid reality, and thus postmodernism, one of the greatest movements in the realm of high arts was born.


Casablanca (1942)

by Michael Curtiz

Casablanca, one of the best Hollywood classics, was first criticised as a piece of American propaganda — selfless patriotism in World War II. Later, it was rediscovered as a cult film. Postmodern novelist Umberto Eco comments that the film’s incoherence and its reputation as an archetype turn its lines into memorable fragments to be remembered. As it integrates clichéd visual and narrative elements of many classic Hollywood films, such intertextual presentation forms an anthology and makes the film a representative of the nostalgic movie industry.


Mother Night (1961)

by Kurt Vonnegut

© Dial Press Trade Paperback

Vonnegut’s black satire Mother Night is portrayed as a piece composed of confessions of Howard W. Campbell, a man of many identities — American playwright, Nazi propagandist, and American spy. Working as a double agent for America, he secretly communicated with the Allies while being accused of immoral anti-Semitic fulmination. As Campbell referred to the American officer he reported to as his “blue fairy godmother” and himself as a playwright, it could imply that the whole ‘American double agent’ business is only his imagination — a pure fairytale invention for him to justify his sins and war crimes. Playing between his inner self and his Nazi-monstrous mask, the metanarrative presents itself as a battle between good and evil.

Buy it


All the Light We Cannot See (2014)

© 4th ESTATE

All The Light We Cannot See is told through two very distinct narratives that parallel in time — one of a blind French girl Marie-Laure LeBlanc who flee Paris with her father to Saint-Malo, and another about a German boy Werner Pfennig from a humble mining town, who later on become a private in Nazi Germany in World War II. With scientific specificity and aesthetic poetry, Doerr carefully weaved together a tale of many things — an individual’s struggle against the crushing current of history, the question on the meaning of fate and the purpose of each and every encounter, and the immense power of hope and kindness.

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Extensive Reading: Love in Time of Chaos: The Invisible Force of Human Connection in All The Light We Cannot See by Anthony Doerr

Categories: Weekly Features

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