Authentischer Bericht oder Roman? Einige Überlegungen zur Typologie von „Holocaust Texten“
Betten, Anne and Fliedl, Konstanze (eds.)
Judentum und Antisemitismus: Studien zur Literatur und Germanistik in Österreich.
(Philologische Studien und Quellen, Heft 176).
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This essay deals with questions of genre of Holocaust texts. Starting with the so-called Wilkomirski affair, which has posed the question of whether and where authenticity can be located in a text this essay moves on to reviewing the debate between traditionalists and post-modernists among contemporary historians about the prerogative of the historical fact. Without denying the reality of the historical event I side with the view that it is nevertheless the medium in which it is communicated that determines our ‘knowledge’ of it. It is therefore less a matter of ethical considerations of how we represent the Holocaust than one of adequateness. This may favour a more figurative presentation over a mimetic one. The literary representations of the Holocaust published during the last decade or so are guided by this question of adequateness. These texts, however, do not only want to adequately portray the events but they also strive to be adequate in how they relate to previous texts about these events. This gives them an eminently dialogic structure as they are in constant ‘conversation’ with the Holocaust literature that preceded them. While these texts cannot and do not want to present new facts they make the reader view the ‘known’ ones in a new way and thereby gain new insights. My essay exemplifies this by drawing mainly on Ruth Klüger’s memoir weiter leben (1993) and Imre Kertész’ Roman eines Schicksallosen (1975/1996).
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