The Political Space of Fiction: A Literary Reflection of “The Banality of Evil”

Publication type Article
Status Published
Occupation: Associate Professor
Affiliation: Russian Christian Academy of Humanities
Address: 15А, Fontanka River Embankment, St. Petersburg 191011, Russian Federation
Occupation: Senior Research Fellow
Affiliation: Federal Center of Theoretical and Applied Sociology of the Russian Academy of Sciences, Sociological Institute of the RAS
Address: 25, 7th Krasnoarmeyskaya Str., St. Petersburg 190005, Russian Federation
Journal nameChelovek
EditionVolume 33 Issue 4

A new way of debates has been recently caused by H. Arendt’s famous work Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil discussed the trial of the Nazi criminal A. Eichmann in 1961. The issues raised by the author such as a status of crime against the humanity and the court competence in their considerations, the banality of evil and its direct connection to the inability to make judgments, the conformism of the Jewish leadership and the double role of the Judenrat in the Final Solution to the Jewish Question are widely considered not only among academics, but often illustrated by fiction. As the example of the literary version of Arendt’s theory the novel The Flytrap Factory of the polish author A. Bart has been taken on deliberation in this paper. In accordance to the plot of Arendt’s book The Flytrap Factory reports on the trial of Ch. Rumkowski, the leader of the Łódź Ghetto, who was characterized by excessive zeal in the cooperation with the German authorities for the sake of preserving the community entrusted to him. This controversial figure of Rumkowski allows Bart to show the limitations of the legal approach to justice. The tribunal introduced in the novel becomes the place where the problematic relationships between morality and law are built into a new constellation. Now it is no longer the letter of the law that determines moral behavior, but first-person ethical action and utterance determine the legitimacy of law. The trial invented by Bart can be read as a kind of analogue of the public space, which Arendt considered as a necessary condition for the true political life of both the individual and society.

KeywordsHannah Arendt, Eichmann in Jerusalem: A Report on the Banality of Evil, Andrzej Bart, The Flytrap Factory, the Holocaust, Judenrat, ethics, politics, philosophy, literature
Publication date28.09.2022
Number of characters32806
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