Whether in Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy or South Africa under Apartheid, the destructiveness of oppressive systems feeds on similar prejudices and myths. The purpose of this article is to explore the mechanisms at work in any situation in which a repressive regime operates, and the close parallels between writers' response to them. My analysis concentrates on the representation of repressive systems in two literary texts which deal obliquely with their historical, political and social social contexts. The choice of works of fiction originating from such different geographical and chronological settings is justified by their stylistic and thematic affinities. The choices made by the two authors and the strategies they adopt, in fact, are often similar (notably, both could be described as allegorical), and the situations represented are congruous, as in both novels a group of people, the minions of an unspecified 'Empire', pointlessly wait for a 'barbarous' enemy that never arrives.
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