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Abstract

In her article "Symbolism, Popular Drama, and Politics and Arts in Belgium, 1886-1910," Joan Gross examines what effects the reign of terror in the Congo and the silence that masked it might have had on popular performance traditions and literary practices in Belgium. Gross examines a popular puppet play by Léopold Leloup and an essay by Maurice Maeterlinck, both of which are called The Massacre of the Innocents. The third text she explores is a parliamentary speech given by Émile Vandervelde in 1903 in which he protested brutal practices in the Congo. Gross explores the interconnections between these three disparate texts and situates them within fin-de-siècle Belgium where racism and socialism were reigning ideologies and symbolism became the favored literary style. Following Taussig, Gross suggests that symbolism and the use of the traditional narrative of The Massacre of the Innocents were literary responses to cultures of terror.

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