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Licensed Unlicensed Requires Authentication Published by De Gruyter June 5, 2018

Fantasy and its Suspension in an Age of Awkwardness: Timur Vermes’s Look Who’s Back

Orit Yushinsky Troupin
From the journal arcadia

Abstract

The paper examines the way Vermes’s bestseller and its cinematic adaptation, Look Who’s Back, are structured in analogy to Lacan’s notion of the fundamental fantasy, i. e., the framework within which subjects organize their desire in relation to the Other or to the Other’s desire. Employing mainly Adam Kotsko’s terms of awkwardness and sociopathy, I argue that the characters in the novel and the film and the implied and actual audiences constitute Hitler, the narrator and protagonist, as a fantasmatic awkward-sociopath big Other. Hitler is portrayed both as a ludicrous representation of an unsettling and awkward social order, that cannot implement clear and definite norms, and as a cynical sociopath who is incapable not only of overcoming this order but also of fixing it by making it ‘whole’ and consistent again. Discussing major differences between the novel and the film, I examine the ways audiences may fall and avoid falling into the trap of the novel’s and the film’s fantasy. This interpretation contributes simultaneously to the assessment of Hitler’s specific portrayal in Look Who’s Back and the critical exploration of his emblematic representation in our contemporary culture as well as its reasons and effects.

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Published Online: 2018-06-05
Published in Print: 2018-06-04

© 2018 Walter de Gruyter GmbH, Berlin/Boston

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