Rhetoric of Hitlers Battle

David E Beard bear0043 at umn.edu
Fri Sep 26 15:06:33 EST 2003

^>FromDr. Comas' website:  http://www.missouri.edu/~engjnc/burke/hitler.html

Notes on Kenneth Burke’s “The Rhetoric of Hitler’s ‘Battle’” (1939)
Kenneth Burke, “The Rhetoric of Hitler's ‘Battle’,” The Philosophy of
Literary Form, 3rd ed. (1941; Berkeley: University of California Press,
1973), 191-220.
Bibliographical Notes
Historical Notes
Text Notes 


Bibliographical Notes

1. Originally published in Southern Review 5 (Summer 1939): 1-21, Burke’s
essay was the lead article in an issue with several articles on democracy,
including R. M. MacIver’s “The Genius of Democracy” and Willmoore Kendell’s
“On the Preservation of Democracy for America.”

Historical Notes

1. Burke’s essay was published a few months before the German invasion of
Poland (01 Sep 1939), which initiated the second world war. (The US, of
course, did not enter the war until the bombing of Pearl Harbor, over two
years later.)

2. A year prior to the publication of this essay, Congress created the
House Un-American Activities Committee to investigate Nazis, Fascists,
Communists, and other “un-American” groups.

Text Notes

1. The English translation to which Burke refers in his opening sentence is
Mein Kampf, Complete and Unabridged, Fully Annotated, editorial sponsors:
John Chamberlain, Sidney B. Fay and others (New York, Reynal & Hitchcock,

2. In his second paragraph, Burke writes that Hitler’s book should be
studied “not merely to discover some grounds for prophesying what political
move is to follow Munich” (191); this is a reference to the Munich
Agreement of September 1938, in which Britain and France acquiesced to
Hitler’s demand to annex western Czechoslovakia in return for a stable
Europe. (The Munich Agreement is the source of British Prime Minister
Chamberlain’s tragically ironic “Peace in our time” statement.)

3. On p. 193, the reference to “Russell” is to British philosopher Bertrand
Russell and his book Analysis of Mind (1921). 

4. On p. 214, Burke quotes a passage from Freud’s Totem and Taboo. This
passage can be found on p. 50 of Totem and Taboo: Some Points of Agreement
between the Mental Lifes of Savages and Neurotics, trans. James Strachey
(New York: Norton, 1950).

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