Admitting the Holocaust

Admitting the Holocaust : Collected Essays

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This volume collects Langer's most provocative and poignant essays on the Holocaust. Examining themes such as the importance of memory and the impossibility of describing suffering, the book touches upon the experience of the ghetto and the camp, survivors and victims, those who have given eyewitness testimony and those who have created fictions or films. The result is a moving, eloquently written introduction to Langer's unflinching vision of a tragedy offering no more

Product details

  • Hardback | 213 pages
  • 170.18 x 246.38 x 22.86mm | 476.27g
  • Oxford University Press Inc
  • New York, United States
  • English
  • 0195093577
  • 9780195093575

About Lawrence L. Langer

About the Author: Lawrence L. Langer is Professor of English at Simmons College in Boston. The winner of a National Book Critics Circle Award for Holocaust Testimonies, he has also written Versions of Survival, The Age of Atrocity, and The Holocaust and the Literary more

Review Text

With a highly sensitive but unsparing eye, these essays argue that new moral and linguistic categories are required in order to respond properly and honestly to the reality of the Holocaust. Langer (English/Simmons College), who won a National Book Critics Circle award for Holocaust Testimonies (1991), asserts that "language preserves a semblance of order that disintegrates" in the reality of the mass slaughter of Jews. Analyzing the ways in which people have tried to understand or represent the Holocaust, he looks at oral testimony, diaries, memoirs, and fiction, including works by writers like William Styron and Bernard Malamud for whom the Holocaust is an important but not necessarily central theme. Langer also examines some portrayals of the Holocaust on American TV, stage, and screen, eloquently resisting attempts to sentimentalize Holocaust victims, resisters, or survivors. Above all, he insists that the Holocaust represents a "rupture" in the images and values of modern Western culture, several times approvingly quoting Jean Amery's observation that "no bridge led from death in Auschwitz to Death in Venice." Langer's only questionable contention is that "Auschwitz introduced the realm of the unthinkable into the human drama." What, one wonders, of the mass deaths of millions during WW I's trench warfare or Stalin's murder of as many as 30 million in the USSR during the purges? Generally, however, Langer writes superbly. He has a gift for simple yet resonant phrasing: Of fictional survivors such as Aharon Appelfeld's Great Barfuss and Cynthia Ozick's Rosa, he writes that they are emotionally and spiritually "dead while alive" and thus "amputated from time." Langer applies his insightful, razor-sharp pen to others' works about an event that, he convincingly maintains, carries neither lesson nor moral but instead overpowers memory, mocks the pretensions of civilization, and leaves an absurd, irredeemable legacy. (Kirkus Reviews)show more

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17 ratings
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3 18% (3)
2 0% (0)
1 6% (1)
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