By Christopher Bigsby
This can be a meditation on reminiscence and at the ways that reminiscence has operated within the paintings of writers for whom the Holocaust was once a defining occasion. it's also an exploration of the ways that fiction and drama have tried to strategy a subject matter so immune to the mind's eye. starting with W. G. Sebald, for whom reminiscence and the Holocaust have been the roots of a different fascination, Bigsby strikes directly to examine these writers Sebald himself valued, together with Arthur Miller, Anne Frank, Primo Levi and Peter Weiss, and people whose lives crossed within the bleak international of the camps, actually or fiction. The booklet bargains a series of stories. It units witness opposed to fiction, fact opposed to wilful deceit. It asks the query who owns the Holocaust - those that died, those that survived to undergo witness, those that appropriated its sufferers to form their very own must haves.
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Additional info for Remembering and Imagining the Holocaust: The Chain of Memory
The story is in turn witnessed by a third party observer. This personal testimony is then re-told or re-presented in alternative forms, such as film or literature, to be in turn re-witnessed by an audience for which personal contact with a survivor may not be possible. This chain of witnesses results in subjecting the eye-witness of the individual who was there to the opinion or re-representation of those who were not. (439) What, then, lies at the end of this chain of memory and witness, enlightenment or obfuscation?
I don’t even think that couples talked to each other much about that sort of thing. One had tacitly to agree to leave this behind and developed an attitude that was entirely forward-looking, which was bent on not remembering . . We never had that conversation . . ’ If you pressed harder then the atmosphere would become increasingly uncomfortable. (142–3) The past, then, was problematic and memory denied. He derived from his failed efforts to penetrate what seemed to be family secrets linked to a larger silence an unfocussed feeling of responsibility and a sense of the indeterminate nature of the past.
When he died shortly afterwards his possessions were offered to Wiesenthal. Had the man so misunderstood his gestures as to believe he had offered what in fact had been withheld, for Wiesenthal had left the room without speaking the words the man needed? Could the holding of a hand, the brushing away of a fly have assumed an unlooked-for significance? He refused the possessions, which were therefore sent to the man’s mother. When the war was finally over, Wiesenthal made his way to Stuttgart. He had recalled the address of the SS officer’s mother on the package that had been offered to him.
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