He wrote it while crossing the Sahara on buses and, at the same time, journeying through the history of extermination. Iain Sinclair once divided writers into pods writers who stay in their studies and peds writers who roam and walk — Lindqvist is decidedly of the latter temperament.
On the road, he considers what Darwin wrote in The Descent of Man: Lindqvist reflects on what Darwin's cousin, Francis Galton, and later European racial biologists, would argue to justify the genocide of non-whites across the world. He steeps himself in German thinkers whose genocidal texts provided sham-intellectual justification for murdering 6 million Jews. Lindqvist has often worked this way and, in 30 books written over the past half century, has developed a literary form flexible enough for him to travel in time as much as space, combining the personal and the political, mingling historical investigation, travel and literary reportage and — increasingly — fierce polemic.
He writes in terse numbered paragraphs, following Nietzsche's aphoristic style. He'll leap from an account of a dream into a passage of shattering political rage. In the penultimate paragraph of Exterminate All the Brutes , for instance, he writes: Lindqvist and I are meeting at the home of Sigrid Rausing, heiress to the Tetra Pak millions who has deployed her money to bankroll Granta, publisher of Lindqvist's books in English. Rausing's home is a little outpost of Sweden: Lindqvist sips tea from a Moomin Troll mug; on the walls are elegant Swedish artworks including a tapestry depicting Biblical scenes.
He points at his twitching leg, which I thought a sign of his irritation at my inept questions. I discovered it when I was driving a car. An extremely small difference in pressure on the pedal changes speed a great deal. I didn't think it was a fault of mine that my car kept jumping, I thought it was the fault of construction of all cars. It turned out I had Parkinson's. Now I don't drive.
Parkinson's and age have curbed lifelong wanderlust. Germans were running along the train crying for bread. Nothing left of whole cities. Four decades later, those experiences would figure in his most critically feted book in English, A History of Bombing first published in Swedish in and in English in Lindqvist wrote of how the evils Europeans perpetrated in their colonies prefigured the violence they would commit against each other at home: The fractured structure of that book — Lindqvist suggests multiple entry paths through its numbered paragraphs, breaking each journey through the text into fragments — is emblematic of the disruption caused by the aerial bomb.
Ever since 1 November when an Italian lieutenant threw a grenade from his delicate plane, the dream of exterminating from the air with minimal risk to bombers has been realised, he argues. The destroyer of German cities, Arthur "Bomber" Harris scored his "first civilian hits", in in Kabul, writes Lindqvist. He argues that the aerial bombing that marked the second world war and now has its culmination in unmanned drones controlled from Nevada as they bomb Afghan villages, had its roots in the colonial policy of exterminating "savages" from the air.
In a chilling afterward to the edition he writes that "The drone war is the unmanned opposite of the mass armies of the Great War. Convenient — so long as the other side hasn't got one. Will it not be too easy to wage war, if all you risk are machines, not soldiers? Lindqvist suggests that the British should learn from Germans in reflecting on their misdeeds. The Sven Lindqvist of such fiercely polemical works as these is remote from the teenager who first became obsessed with literature.
I was more engaged by Nietzsche and Goethe. My Swedish master was Vilhelm Ekelund, a poet, writer of aphorisms and follower of Nietzsche.
One of Lindqvist's earliest books was called Advertising Is Lethal. I wrote it when I had recently married and we had to buy everything to make a household. I revolted against the idea that I would have to do work I didn't want to do just in order to pay instalments on a sofa. I'd much rather not have a sofa and use my time to do some reading, writing, loving and experiencing life. The initial failure of that book — "it got enormously bad reviews because it was so one-sided" — made Lindqvist think that changing a corrupt society was impossible.
He left his homeland in the early 60s to spend two years in China, steeping himself in its language and calligraphy. How odd that you weren't there to engage with socialist revolution.
That aestheticised self, steeped in Chinese culture, seeking mystic calm and refuge from a degraded west, was submitted to something very like Maoist self-criticism in his book The Myth of Wu Tao-Tzu , possibly his finest and certainly most philosophically profound work which Granta is to publish in English for the first time in August. The myth is that of the eponymous artist who stepped into his painting as the culmination of his work and to elude quotidian reality.
The book later follows Lindqvist as he journeys through China, India and Afghanistan, experiencing a political awakening. During the book's journey, he challenges those who have used art as escape from an insufferable world — in particular Herman Hesse, whom he admired. He rejects too his own literary style: What are beauty and harmony when you are running for dear life between crumbling walls?
I am beginning to believe my artistic endeavours have been a mistake. He rounds on Hesse, who wrote his iconoclastic novel The Glass Bead Game , which Lindqvist adored, between and The admirer came to see Hesse's rarefied project as despicable, a withdrawal from an intolerable Europe when engaging with nazism was necessary.
Lindqvist weaves in and out of Conrad's own travels through Africa that resulted in Heart of Darkness, already forecasting the Holocaust, the 20th century most well-loved genocidal disaster, so widely condemned more because it happened on European soil, unlike the horrors of Africa obscured by distance and even merited by the colour of its victims, than for its humanitarian travesties. The book uses the format of the sexy rant, if there is such a thing.
It's clever and knows it. It uses the shorthand appeal autobiography and the first person to great effect. You're, I was, hooked. I was often in the position wishing I had been with Sven this is how I gradually came to think of Lindqvist as he travelled through the Sahara, stayed in that dusty hotel, and people-watched from his hotel room with a vista on the town square. This kind of book needs the authorial shadow. The subject matter and writing Lindqvist cites and examines are neither comfortable nor immediately arresting.
They need a curator to parse and select out the juiciest bits, not because the content on the whole does not deserve a thorough examination, but because the travelogue demands peripatetic movement rather than camping out in archival texts. This is a fantastic book. I was grateful for it. It's not often that past history seems relevant to the present, but Lindqvist is very good at jumping into the past and dragging out the parts that make you think hardest.
The book reads beautifully in parts and always makes sense, even when the author indulges in dream imagery, never detracts from the principal thesis, and is ever loyal to the foundation of the material in Africa.
Dec 16, Miquixote rated it it was amazing Shelves: Connects the dots of genocidal impulse from social darwinism to all the colonial empires.
It didn't start and end with Hitler. My - biali Europejczycy. Apr 06, Christopher Conlon rated it it was amazing. Lindqvuist vividly captures the hideous, nearly insane violence of the European masters of the Colonial era, while also noting the willful ignorance of those back home.
There is a direct link, Lindqvist argues, between the willful ignorance of that time and our own, a deliberate blindness which has allowed, and continues to allow, atrocities of unimaginable magnitude to unfold—atrocities very much a part of a long European tradition.
This one's difficult to blurb. Lindqvist also [oh, yeah As project, it's a massive undertaking; but as crit-lit it reads very well. The core of the thing is that Lindqvist is grappling with Holocaust exceptionalism; he doesn't deny its status as most-awful-to-succeed, but rather argues, coherently, that it's a pattern stitched deep.
I think it's pretty much brilliant. I've shaved off a star arbitrarily because I think I need to keep room at the top. I'm all for reading Lindqvist's 'A History of Bombing' as well, and the adventuresome -- or if not, then those who as I take Seymour Hersch seriously -- may also care to read Sebald's book on the Allied non-nuclear air campaign.
Aug 28, Jeremy rated it liked it Shelves: The idea that racism can be linked directly to imperialism and genocidal colonial policies But instead of merely writing it out in some super structured academic style, Lindqvist kind of meanders through examples of colonial cruelty, late 19th century literature, as well as his own sort of vague travelogue of wandering aimlessly through the most utterly forgotten outposts of the Sahara desert.
While I generally love The idea that racism can be linked directly to imperialism and genocidal colonial policies While I generally love this sort of digressive, wide ranging, almost essayistic examination of the personal as historical think W. Sebald and Bruce Chatwin mixed with Edward Said And the parts about his travels quickly lose any real sense of focus or purpose when juxtaposed against say, a harrowing report about the slaughter of a bunch of Nigerians by an insane french military commander.
I definitely love the idea of what he's trying to do here, I just think the execution is forced and kind of weak. Jul 24, Elliot Ratzman rated it really liked it. When grasping for the language of absolute evil, many in the West reach for the ideology of Nazism and the horrors of the Jewish Holocaust.
Sadly, less is said about 19th century European colonialism—the Belgium Congo, the German genocide of the Herero, the French massacres in the Sudan and the Sahara, and of course the transatlantic slave trade. Lindqvist, a Swedish writer, gives us a sampling of the scientific racism and practical murder behind the millions of lives destroyed by European power When grasping for the language of absolute evil, many in the West reach for the ideology of Nazism and the horrors of the Jewish Holocaust.
Lindqvist, a Swedish writer, gives us a sampling of the scientific racism and practical murder behind the millions of lives destroyed by European powers in the 18th and 19th centuries. This short book is part travel narrative, part-aphoristic history of European racism in theory and deed.
The travel narrative sections are forgettable, but the stories of European cruelty are unforgettable. His thesis in short: Feb 24, Petter rated it it was amazing.
Should be a schoolbook all around the world. Aug 29, Sorayya Khan rated it it was amazing. Sven Lindqvist has written something that is unlike anything I have ever read. If the form wasn't fascinating enough, the material is mind bending, just as the subtitle suggests: The book takes us on a course that follows Lindqvist on a trip to Africa, all the while trying to place J Sven Lindqvist has written something that is unlike anything I have ever read.
The book takes us on a course that follows Lindqvist on a trip to Africa, all the while trying to place Joseph Conrad's by the way, did anyone else know that he was Polish? Heart of Darkness within the literary, historical, and scientific context of his time. I plan to re-read the novel as soon as I can.
From Lindqvist's conclusion, a few excerpts: No one wished to admit what everyone knew. It is not knowledge we lack. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and draw conclusions. Jan 28, Andrew added it. The rich understanding that results is of a continuous progress of policies and attitudes that undermines an ahistorical view of genocide that seems to pop into the modern mind from nowhere.
An important book to understanding our cultural heritage. Dec 10, Steve Comstock rated it it was amazing Shelves: Part travelogue, part history, part literary criticism; with kaleidoscopic vision Lindqvist somehow manages to paint a clear picture of the root and expanse of genocidal European colonialism.
The book's backbone is Joseph Conrad's "Heart of Darkness", which Lindqvist uses as a sort of channel to sail his way back to the root of European genocide. He adds layers of nuance by examining the relationship between Darwin's social theories and European expansion, justifications for racism, and riveting Part travelogue, part history, part literary criticism; with kaleidoscopic vision Lindqvist somehow manages to paint a clear picture of the root and expanse of genocidal European colonialism.
He adds layers of nuance by examining the relationship between Darwin's social theories and European expansion, justifications for racism, and riveting interjections of travelogue that remind us these events took place in places that still carry their scars.
The reader walks away with a crystal clear understanding of just how inseperably woven genocide, colonialism, and the expanse of European culture are. Jun 02, Mark added it Shelves: The best book on colonialism I've ever read. Lindqvist's book is so original, so readable, and so eloquent that I decided to create a whole class around it.
Deftly weaving literary criticism, travelogue, history and memoir together, Lindqvist demonstrates how Europe had been committing holocausts long before Hitler--in Africa and elsewhere. His portrait of racism and imperialism is as horrifying and grotesque as the Conrad novel from which he derives his title. As a writer, I was inspired by his The best book on colonialism I've ever read.
As a writer, I was inspired by his style of intercutting historical chronicle with dreams and childhood memories, drawing attention to himself as author, and to history as morally-motivated interpretation. Perhaps more than any other book, Exterminate all the brutes showed me that a nonfiction book can be every bit as much a work of art as a novel.
Nov 03, brian rated it really liked it. Dec 06, Stephanie rated it it was amazing. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers.
To view it, click here. With this idea began the Age of Imperialism. During the Age of Imperialism many European superpowers were looking to expand their empires. Countries such as Great Britain, France, Germany and the United States all expanded their empires by conquering other countries or expanding east or west.
European countries especially had many colonies abroad. This often meant major and devastating blows to the native peoples of these countries. Due to the discovery of natural selection and extinction, Europeans were able to justify the extermination of different people.
Sven Linqvist begins his novel by challenging his readers, "You already know enough. What is missing is the courage to understand what we know and to draw conclusions. For Lindqvist the roots of Nazi atrocities lie in the mainstream practices of European and American expansion, which involved the extermination of many native people. Long European conquest produces genocidal brutality linked to new scientific thinking about race. Scientific racism gained popularity in the 19th century, during the age of empire.
This theory maintained that Europeans were racially superior. Science was used to legitimize conquest and extermination brought on by the Europeans. Discoveries such as extinction, natural selection and classification of species further allowed Europeans to justify their brutality toward different races. With the discovery of extinction, came major religious implications for Europeans. Georges Cuvier had found the fossils or remains of an organism that had been extinct.
Before Cuvier discovered the fact of extinction Europeans believed that everything that had ever been created still existed. They had no concept of extinction. This was a concept that many people found unthinkable. Cuvier found that extinction was natural and it occurs because species are too rigid and need to adapt to different changes. For Europeans this meant they too could become extinct someday. Simply put, natural selection is the thought that many varieties of each species of organism exist and as time passes and environments change, those organism that are best suited to the environment would survive and the other varieties would die off.
This is also known as the survival of the fittest. Although it was not his intent, this further justified imperialist practices. Europeans believed themselves to be more technologically advanced than other people. Therefore according to Darwin they were the superior race.
This also suggested the different human races were engaged in a competitive struggle to survive. Darwin maintained extinction to be natural, which further justified European conquest and extermination. The discovery of natural selection with its history of mass extinctions of species was used to justify the extinction of less fit branches of the human family. This mindset later became the basis for Nazi genocide. Carl Linnaeus, a zoologist and botanist, was the first person to systematically classify knowledge.
Scientific classification of life was rooted in the Enlightenment. During the Enlightenment different thinkers would classify knowledge according to hierarchy and class.
Exterminate All the Brutes: One Man's Odyssey into the Heart of Darkness and the Origins of European Genocide [Sven Lindqvist, Joan Tate] on artspot.cf *FREE* shipping on qualifying offers. Exterminate All the Brutes is a searching examination of Europe’s dark history in Africa and the origins of genocide/5(24).
In EXTERMINATE ALL THE BRUTES, Sven Lindqvist presents a haunting mixture of travelogue, literary interpretation, and historical analysis, the purpose of which is to expose the roots of twentieth century holocaust in the ideology and practices of nineteenth century colonialism.
Lindqvist argues that such thinking leads to Auschwitz, ``the modern industrial application of a policy of extermination on which European world domination had long since rested.'' Peppering the narrative are notes from Lindqvist's travels into the Sahara that occasionally slide into self-indulgence. It is currently published by Granta along with Exterminate All the Brutes as a single volume called Saharan Journey. Lindqvist now lives with his second wife Agneta Stark, an economist, in .
Dr. Sven Lindqvist is a Swedish author. He holds a PhD in History of literature from Stockholm University (his thesis, in , was on Vilhelm Ekelund) and a /5(). “Exterminate All the Brutes” is a searching examination of Europe’s dark history in Africa and the origins of genocide. Using Joseph Conrad’s Heart of Darkness as his point of departure, Sven Lindqvist takes us on a haunting tour through the colonial past, interwoven with a modern-day travelogue.