Remembering and Imagining the Holocaust: The Chain of Memory

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Cambridge University Press, 2006 M10 19
This is a meditation on memory and on the ways in which memory has operated in the work of writers for whom the Holocaust was a defining event. It is also an exploration of the ways in which fiction and drama have attempted to approach a subject so resistant to the imagination. Beginning with W. G. Sebald, for whom memory and the Holocaust were the roots of a special fascination, Bigsby moves on to consider those writers Sebald himself valued, including Arthur Miller, Anne Frank, Primo Levi and Peter Weiss, and those whose lives crossed in the bleak world of the camps, in fact or fiction. The book offers a chain of memories. It sets witness against fiction, truth against wilful deceit. It asks the question who owns the Holocaust - those who died, those who survived to bear witness, those who appropriated its victims to shape their own necessities.
 

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Contents

It was not Millers last comment on those times In
218
everybodys heroine
219
breaking up batteries It was hard and dirty work but
235
The silence is peaceful soothing Dante understood nothing Hell is
237
Rachel van AmerongenFrankfoorder recalled The Frank girls
239
Franks own father and even or especially the
241
concentrating all attention on what is experienced as a
243
father living under the sway of the rabbis and the
248

often been described as a conspiracy of silence I dont
30
even if people dont believe me even if they feel
36
waking state No doubt this is an impossible task in
38
trick It can stand as an introduction to his method
50
restless scholarship seemingly random journeys must now be filled
75
lacunae yet he readily accepts that
80
Sometimes these pictures contain very dense information
82
century In his 1973 doctoral thesis he offered an image
88
He usually had no time for tourist venues but now
107
and I kept listening to see how it would arrange
114
breaking the silence
115
care where they bombed but he added now I understand
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It was not that history had a fascination in its
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the challenge George Steiner observed that
121
It is not that he has lost his faith He
135
the investigation
149
similar reasons a special law allowing them to retire with
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unemotional recitation of fact that generates the emotion Witness 8
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of times best left unvisited Weisss drama was a conscious
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For many the Holocaust was hermetic discontinuous with human
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the rememberer
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described it as garbage or worse 323 When the film
215
home and language
258
their words12 On a personal level it was immaterial Forgiveness
280
ending it? Was it a defeat or a victory? Were
283
from the darkness to the light
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perhaps be suspicions discussions research by historians but
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with a critical eye Seemingly paradoxically he suggests that For
289
Auschwitz serve as a warning And may the dreadful fruit
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collapse into an instant because they have nothing in them
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he realised came at death through memories of literature In
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that invades the city and the world capable at
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As he explained in an Afterword
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of their plan to cure the state something good something
315
with knives or chisels or any tool that came to
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to forget is to deny
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the world of stone
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several advantages if the word could be said to be
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A selection threatens but there is never any sense that
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without the hope that such a world is possible that
351
11 Memory theft
357
Under the name of Lauren Stratford she lectured and supported
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We were just in hiding not in a camp
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Page 2 - The cradle rocks above an abyss, and common sense tells us that our existence is but a brief crack of light between two eternities of darkness.
Page 3 - This re-Englishing of a Russian re-version of what had been an English retelling of Russian memories in the first place...
Page 2 - He caught a glimpse of his mother waving from an upstairs window, and that unfamiliar gesture disturbed him, as if it were some mysterious farewell. But what particularly frightened him was the sight of a brand-new baby carriage standing there on the porch, with the smug, encroaching air of a coffin; even that was empty, as if, in the reverse course of events, his very bones had disintegrated.

About the author (2006)

Christopher Bigsby is Professor of American Studies at the University of East Anglia.

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