Sex, Violence, and the Avant-Garde
Anarchism in Interwar France
By (author) Richard D. Sonn
Publication date:22 November 2010
Length of book:272 pages
PublisherPenn State University Press
By the end of World War I, the conflict between anarchism and the state had largely been eclipsed by the competing forces of liberalism, fascism, and communism. To combat their slide into irrelevance, French anarchists, especially those called individualists, redirected their attentions from violent revolution and general strikes to ethical issues that focused on personal liberation. Chief among these issues was sexual freedom, sought not only for the sake of pleasure but also to undermine the authoritarian family, bulwark of the patriarchal state. In this revelatory book, Richard Sonn approaches the French anarchist movement during this period from a sociocultural perspective, considering the relationships among anarchism and the artistic avant-garde and surrealism, political violence and terrorism, sexuality and sexual politics, and gender roles. He shows that, contrary to popular belief, anarchism in theory and practice played a significant role in the culture of interwar France.
—John Merriman, Charles Seymour Professor of History, Yale University, author of The Dynamite Club: How a Bombing in Fin-de-Siècle Paris Ignited the Age of Modern Terror and A History of Modern Europe Since the Renaissance