This essay engages in a critique of soteriological desire, alongside its corporeal and affective correlates, mobilized in different ways in German fascism of the thirties and Djuna Barnes’s 1936 novel, Nightwood. In contrasting the “fascist body” with the “hysterical body,” I seek to account for the psychic logic co-implicating narcissism and fascist eschatology in order to dissociate it from the expressive enactment of hysteria in Nightwood’s Doctor O’Connor and, in so doing, to offer a revisionary account of the novel’s political unconscious. Both narcissism and hysteria bind the subject to the figure of the sovereign in a soteriological relation. However, where the narcissist disavows the lack internal to his constitution in the identification with his idol, the hysteric, though placed in the field of the sovereign’s desire, ultimately foregrounds the failure of the redemptive promise encoded in this relation.

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