The paper traces the quest of Max Aue, the perpetrator-narrator of Jonathan Littell's The Kindly Ones, for his lineal origin, sexual identity, and wholeness through an "inner experience" à la Bataille. This quest, and his attempts at merging with the Other by producing a pristine unity with his sister or by obliterating others, is futile. The paper demonstrates, on the one hand, the subversive ways in which alterity returns in the novel, and on the other hand, the ways in which Aue's claims to a unique identity are undermined: Aue's character, which on the first reading may seem homogenous and univocal, turns out to be built upon inter-texts and quotations that bring heterogeneity to the fore. Conversely, his endeavors to distinguish himself from other Nazi perpetrators are invalidated either on the plot level and or the narrative level by comparisons, repetitions, and paraphrasing. Unable to reach unity and identity by erasing alterity, Aue remains in a maze where he can only deteriorate morally and psychologically in an endless cancrizans.


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pp. 315-334
Launched on MUSE
Open Access
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