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The Holocaust and the Postmodern$
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Robert Eaglestone

Print publication date: 2004

Print ISBN-13: 9780199265930

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: September 2007

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199265930.001.0001

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‘Not Read and Consumed in the Same Way as Other Books’: Identification and the Genre of Testimony

‘Not Read and Consumed in the Same Way as Other Books’: Identification and the Genre of Testimony

Chapter:
(p.15) 1 ‘Not Read and Consumed in the Same Way as Other Books’: Identification and the Genre of Testimony
Source:
The Holocaust and the Postmodern
Author(s):

Robert Eaglestone (Contributor Webpage)

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:oso/9780199265930.003.0002

This chapter argues for the singularity of Holocaust testimonies as a genre. Analysing a range of commentary on testimonies by survivors and critics, it finds the current ideas about this form of writing lacking. It argues that testimonies both encourage, through their form, and reject, for ethical and epistemological reasons, the empathic identifications of readers. In order to understand this better, the chapter analyses currently very insufficient theoretical accounts of identification, and then sets them in the context of debates over the form of Holocaust testimonies, trauma, and imagery. It concludes by offering an account of the genre of testimony and its importance, arguing that this tension between identification and its prohibition is central to these testimony texts.

Keywords:   Holocaust testimony, Primo Levi, Jorge Semprun, Eli Wiesel, Charlotte Delbo, Maruice Blanchot, identification, genre, trauma

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