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Tradition, Translation, TraumaThe Classic and the Modern$
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Jan Parker and Timothy Mathews

Print publication date: 2011

Print ISBN-13: 9780199554591

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2015

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199554591.001.0001

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Mediating Trauma

Mediating Trauma

How do we Read the Holocaust Memoirs?

Chapter:
(p.283) 15 Mediating Trauma
Source:
Tradition, Translation, Trauma
Author(s):

Piotr Kuhiwczak

Publisher:
Oxford University Press
DOI:10.1093/acprof:osobl/9780199554591.003.0018

This chapter argues that Holocaust memoirs should be considered a special case despite sharing a lot of features with other memoirs. This claim is based on two premises. First of all, unlike any other type of autobiographical writing the Holocaust memoirs have been incorporated into a wider debate about the extermination of the Jews during the Second World War. They are called upon to support, or disprove, a whole gamut of political views and interpretations of those past events. As a result, this often instrumental treatment of memoirs has had some impact on the popularity of some authors but has also contributed to the fact that other, perhaps equally interesting but less ‘useful’ writing has sunk without trace. The second premise is that to many readers, Holocaust memoirs are available only in translation. While the texts written in German or French were much more widely known and disseminated, those in less known languages had a smaller chance to be noticed and translation was often the only way of ensuring a wider readership.

Keywords:   Holocaust memoirs, translation, autobiographical writing

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