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12 Crime Media Culture 3 (2016)

handle is hein.journals/cmctre12 and id is 1 raw text is: 

Article                                                                    S

                                                                            Crime Media Culture
                                                                            2016, Vol. 12(1) 3-15
Paul Nizan: Conspiracy and                      the                        © The Author(s) 2015
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contemplation of crime                                          sagepub.co uk/journalsPermissions.nav
                                                                  DOI 10.1177/1741659015596113

Vincenzo Ruggiero
Middlesex University, UK

Paul Nizan (1905-1940) is also known in France as the 'impossible communist', for his long-
term allegiance to the Party and the abrupt cancellation of his membership, in the late 1930s,
following the Nazi-Soviet pact. This paper discusses a number of his writings, focusing particularly
on his best known novel, The Conspiracy, where a revolutionary cell plans illegal political action.
Conflict, nihilism, suicide and betrayal are among the topics stemming from the novel, which
will be examined from a criminological perspective. The analysis will primarily address 'cultural'
aspects of crime and refer to notions such as 'thrill' and 'seductions of crime' among others. These
notions, it will be argued, require some revision in the face of the imagined or actual criminality
described in the novel.

Conflict, nihilism, suicide, betrayal

Fiction can be used as a tool for the communication of sociological meaning and the elaboration
of criminological analysis. A legendary figure in criminology, Howard Becker (1995), after leaving
us his magnificent legacy around the labeling of outsiders, has studied the social and ideological
aspects of literature. He was fascinated by how the boundaries between academic disciplines can
be made permeable and fuzzy, as was the author he studied, Antonio Candido, who resisted
specialization and mixed imagination and observation, science and art. Some authors have left
legal for literary studies to build explanatory bridges between the mentalities of law and fiction
(Dolin, 2000). Others have simply used fiction to discuss sociological and criminological notions
while 'telling stories' (Dow, 1980; Ruggiero, 2003; Forti, Mazzucato and Visconti, 2012).
   Encouragement to 'take stories seriously' may emerge from the reading of Aristotle's (1995)
Poetics, where we find that the difference between a historian and a poet is not that one writes
prose and the other verse. The real difference, in Aristotle's view, is that the former tells what
happened, while the latter what might happen. For this reason poetry, and for that matter fiction,
are more scientific and serious than history, as they tend to give general truths, whereas history

Corresponding author:
Vincenzo Ruggiero, Middlesex University, The Burroughs, London NW4 4BT, UK.
Email: V.Ruggiero@mdx.ac.uk

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